Tips for Putting on a Successful Home Show

Since it’s the home show time of year, I thought it would be of interest to discuss the benefits of participating in local home shows.

While not every home show will be worth the time and investment, these can be a great way to promote your firm, build your base of leads and acquire new clients. However, to do this, you need to have a professional presence and maximize your opportunities.

The Booth

When planning your booth, think about how much space you’ll need to do an effective display. A 10'x20' display will allow you enough room for two small kitchens, with some room for a vanity or small bath display. There may also be room for an island.

Over the years I’ve had as much as a 40'x40' booth, with working cooking demonstrations, four kitchen displays, a bar and a couple of bath displays. But I can’t really say that the large display did any more for us than a well-designed straight-line display.

Obviously, the amount of work and the cost of the display must be considered. Many cabinet manufacturers have traveling displays that are available for dealers interested in putting them in home shows.

We’ve had much success with a home show display that did not show any kitchens or baths. We wanted to help the clients understand the “process,” so we created a booth that did that, with project drawings, before and after photos, floor plans, final perspectives, a copy of our design agreement and pricing on each project, as well as how it related to the plans.

We did have some door samples for those who wanted to see our products, but we’ve found it’s really not necessary to have complete kitchen and bath displays.

Whether you want to showcase products, vignettes or a creative type of “process” booth, be sure you don’t cut corners on the things that matter. How your booth looks says a lot about your company. Always put carpet in the booth; it warms the displays and makes it easier for those working and standing on their feet all day.

Have clean, up-to-date displays. Make sure your signage is clean and attractive. Keep your logo consistent. Consider putting dishes, glasses and other items in the display cabinets.

Working it

Getting the booth right is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. While you’re at the booth, you need to remember that this is not a day off from the showroom; rather, it’s a very important work day.

You have a chance to acquire numerous leads from people who are interested in remodeling their kitchen or bath.

Here are tips on what you should be doing in the booth:

  • Dress like a professional. If you have logo shirts, wear them.
  • Work the booth just like you would work your showroom.
  • Greet each customer with a smile, and treat them as if they are the only person in your booth.
  • Ask if you can answer any questions for them and answer them gladly.
  • Have literature to give out to potential customers and be sure it has your company name, address, phone number and Web site on it. Don’t forget to have information cards that visitors can fill out.
  • You are here to get qualified leads; it’s up to you to weed out the prospects from the tire kickers.
  • Remember, too, that there are some things you should not do at the booth. For example:
  • Do not have food or drinks in the booth. You would never walk up to a customer in your showroom with a pretzel or drink in your hand, so why would it be okay for you to do that in your booth?
  • This is not old home week; don’t stand around with your friends and co-workers while people are walking through your booth.
  • Do not sit on a chair or stool while working the booth. Most home shows have a lounge for the exhibitors to rest in; stand when you’re working your booth.
  • Never ignore someone who is trying to ask you a question. While I realize it gets busy, try to at least acknowledge those who are in the booth.
  • Do not have a “register for a free -----” jar. Everyone will put their name in when all you really want are serious buyers.
  • Be careful of having a personality or celebrity at your booth; you may get lots of traffic, but none who are serious about doing a new kitchen or bath.
  • Put your phone away and no texting or talking unless you leave the booth.

Host a Seminar

After years of participating in home shows, I began putting together educational seminars for consumers, and found these to be a great way to get free advertising and leads I might not have gotten otherwise.

Below are some suggestions for maximizing your speaking opportunities:

  1. If you have the opportunity to do presentations, take it. If you are not a good speaker, get someone in your company who is.
  2. To create a speaking opportunity, go to the home show manager and present what you can do and how it would be a draw for the show. They are always looking for presenters to help their attendance.
  3. Put together a very professional presentation. If you can’t do this, hire someone who can.
  4. Know your subject and practice it until you have it down.
  5. Have some sort of hand out material with your name, company name and booth number on it.

When you’re a featured speaker, you are the professional. As long as you have good, timely information to share that is beneficial to the audience, you will be successful with the presentation. Some of the topics I have spoken about are:

  1. How to purchase a kitchen or bath.
  2. What to look for in a professional kitchen or bath company.
  3. What’s new in kitchen and bath design.
  4. Maximizing your space in a 5'x8' bath.
  5. Remodeling your kitchen or bath without spending a fortune.

These are just a few suggestions; the list goes on and on. The point is to maximize your home show experience by spotlighting your company and showcasing your expertise.

The home show manager is also looking for information that you can submit so he or she can use it in ads to get people to attend the show. Submitting pictures of projects that you’ve recently completed with information about what made that project special is always useful; and once again, you receive free advertising.

Remember, anything worth doing is worth doing well. Put your best foot forward and the show will be a benefit to you and your company.