Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, V5I4

Trade Show Strategies for Professional Shed Builders

The Big Shed Show is coming up on October 3, and this is an opportunity not to be missed. 

But who needs to attend and how can you maximize your time at the show? 


First, let’s look at who needs to attend:

Shed Business Owners—You may think the show is primarily about vendors hawking their wares, and you have a purchasing guy that handles that. While that is part of what The Big Shed Show offers, it is also a great time to connect with other business owners from other parts of the country. 

There is also the opportunity to see new trends and cutting-edge offerings for your industry, from state-of-the-art 3D shed modeling software to organization kits you can sell as add-ons. 

Shed Shop Managers—You run a good shop and probably have tried to create the best systems you can imagine. But here’s the thing: it’s limited to what you can imagine. 

Attending The Big Shed Show will let you see new ideas on shop equipment, talk to other shop managers, and swap ideas. You’re sure to come home with a handful or more of new ideas to implement to increase your quality and efficiency. 

Purchasing Agent—Who the purchasing agent is in your company may vary and that may not be their only role, but here’s a simple way to think about it: if you tell a vendor to send you materials, you’re a purchasing agent. 

You need to attend to see what other products are out there, find new sources for items for when a vendor is backordered, and build relationships. You may think purchasing is about finding the best financial deal, but ultimately it comes down to relationships.

Key Builders—Seems like just about every shop I’ve been to has at least one person besides the shop manager that is the key builder. He’s the guy that can build anything, and when you get that special order, he’s your guy. 

The reason I like to have my key builders attend is because it gives them a chance to think beyond the walls of your shop. Being able to see other products and machinery will give him ideas that no one else may have, simply because he’s in the daily grind. Additionally, he can share with other builders at the show and learn from them.


Next, let’s talk about how to maximize your time at The Big Shed Show:

Divide and Conquer—It may seem natural to stay together, but that limits your reach. By splitting up, you can walk the floor at your own speed and stop at something that seems interesting to you, without holding up the group. 

Additionally, you can build new relationships, and by being on your own, you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with someone new. 

Keep an Open Mind—If you go to The Big Shed Show thinking that you have it all figured out, you’re not likely to get much value. Keep an open mind and ask questions. Learn why others do something a different way. It may not be a fit for you, but oftentimes new ideas are found in the discussion of ideas. 

Be open to new ways of doing things and think about your clients. Just because you wouldn’t shop online, for example, doesn’t mean people aren’t shopping online. By keeping an open mind, you’ll take back actionable value for your business.

Compare Notes—Plan a time after the show, preferably the same evening or next morning, to compare notes with everyone from your company. Each person should share at least one new idea they had and something you’re currently doing that was strengthened as a good idea. 

By knowing ahead of time that you will have this conversation, you can spend the day with purpose, looking for answers to the questions.

Relax and Recharge—Running a business or shop is a lot of work. Use this time to unplug and recharge. Come in a day early if possible or stay a day longer. You’re already paying for a trip, an extra day is not that expensive. 

Use the time to connect with your team on a social level. Have a nice supper together or enjoy a boat cruise on the Ohio River. Connecting outside of the work environment allows you to connect on a deeper level and build the relationships needed to make it through the tough times.

Have Fun—This may seem like an odd thing to do on a business trip, but it’s worth saying. Life is more than 2x4s and siding types—take the time to have a little fun. 

Make a new friend, try some new food, get up early or stay up late—whatever it is, try to have some fun. Because after all, if you don’t enjoy, then you’re better off just staying home.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at The Big Shed Show and wish you the best in your preparations.

Until next time, Be Excellent!

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