5 Reasons Why Trade Shows are Important to Contractors
The giant doors swing open and the anxious crowd begins to push forward as they shuffle their way into the monstrous convention center. Like kids in a candy store, landscape/hardscape professionals scatter around looking for the vendors they came to see. Maybe they came out to test drive the as-of-yet-unreleased, brand-spanking new mini-excavator, or perhaps they’re looking to speak with someone from the hottest 3D landscape design software and see it in action with a hands-on demo. Whatever the reason, both novice and seasoned professional contractors are excited to be at the event.
But why exactly is there such an amazing energy in the building? Have all these landscaping pros really made it out in droves just to be sold by all the exhibitors? Well, it goes without saying that there will be some selling going on, but it’s about much more than that. Even in our ever digital world, where anything you can dream of seems to be a mouse click away, there is still tremendous value to be found at industry trade shows. Let’s have a look at why trade shows are a good use of your time and how they can benefit your bottom line.
1. New Products
Much like how Unilock releases new, cutting-edge pavers and walls each year, tons of other new products are released for the landscape/hardscape industry as well. With the pace of manufacturing technology moving at an all time high, there seems to always be a better product just around the corner. Keeping current with the latest advancements and products in the industry is critical to your business success. The most successful contractors today tend to view each new product as an opportunity to improve their sales, marketing, field productivity, etc. Additionally, as an educated professional, you never want to be put in a situation where a customer knows more about a new product than you do. Trade shows are an excellent way to keep up with all the latest trends in only a few calendar days under one roof. You never know, you may just find that new landscape lighting fixture, snow melt system, or paver installation tool you’ve been looking for to save you time or add incremental sales.
Most landscape/hardscape trade shows have an educational component. These on-site training courses are often led by a knowledgeable landscape industry professional with something new to offer their peers. You might think to yourself that you’ve heard it all before, but in every presentation that I’ve ever attended, there was always a nugget of information—some little tip or trick—that I found useful. Other times, it was simply a catalyst that motivated me to explore something deeper. Either way, continuing to pursue education in your trade is never a bad investment. Better yet, bring along a key staff member to get additional information and/or training for your team.
3. Test Drives
When it comes to equipment and tools, trade shows are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Just imagine how long it would take to visit all the dealers represented at a massive event like GIE+EXPO one by one? Trade shows allow contractors to easily compare features, pricing, and warranties between brands, all while getting the extra benefit of an in-person sales consultation. While the internet is certainly changing the world we live in and the industry we work in, it’s still very difficult to shop for a product like a skid-steer exclusively online. There’s a touch-and-feel element that is just too important. And as an added bonus, manufacturers sometimes offer special trade show discounts and promo deals for those that are almost ready to buy.
4. Technology and Business Systems
As technology continues to influence the landscaping industry, the trade show booths featuring software and business systems products are some of the busiest. Whether you’re looking for a business management system, GPS-guided equipment, or cutting-edge 3D design software, chances are good you will find many vendors offering this specialized technology. Much like with tools and equipment, trade shows give you the opportunity to test drive software programs and explore the features and benefits of each option and how it might work for your specific business.
Last but not least, I believe networking is an important reason to go to trade shows: It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with companies who walk in similar shoes but aren’t direct competitors. The owners and employees from other companies who have “been there” can often offer up advice or recommendations for problems you’re facing. It’s always interesting to learn about best practices from companies like yours from other parts of the country.
Finally, take some time before you go to a show to research the vendors listed in the show guide, so that when you arrive, you will know exactly which vendors you want to connect with. Looking at trade shows as an incredible opportunity to improve your business will put you in the mindset to get the most out of the event. Have fun!