With 2009 behind us, and what feels like a weathering of the storm, we welcome in a new year of successful selling and potential growth. After a year of the media’s constant reminders of “downsizing” and “the recession” and other negative economic reports, we’ve begun to see an increase in traffic. Projects that may have been on hold are starting to get going again.
Whether our clients believe they can get some discounts or are just plain tired of waiting, the steady increase in business is happening. And we must be poised to capture this upswing in business and leverage ourselves against the competition with any and every tool available to us.
This leads me to one of the greatest tools available to us as kitchen and bath designers and salespeople: the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show. This show can be an essential tool in helping you to close future sales.
ON THE HORIZON
With K/BIS fast approaching, many of us are already making plans to head to Chicago. If you’re new to the industry or just haven’t attended in the past, I urge you to go. The ability to touch and feel an incredible volume and vast cross-section of products is how we stay on the cusp of what is new in our industry year to year. Not only do we get to see the products, we can speak to the product experts about what’s new and hot and what makes their products different from the competition.
As we specify products for our projects, the information gathered from K/BIS gives us an edge with what’s new and fashionable. Aside from the product displays, there also comes a tremendous opportunity for educational advancements. The classes and roundtables are a great way to hear advice and strategies on everything from design to business management. The guest speakers come from a talented cross-section of our industry and from other successful businesses, and can help forge the success of our own businesses. There’s also a tremendous opportunity for networking with other industry professionals.
The information gathered from just talking to some of the people who are in the trenches day to day is invaluable. And, the ability to utilize other points of interest in the host cities that your home town may not have is a great way to expand your knowledge and influence your talents. Whether visiting metropolitan design centers or merchandise marts, viewing local architecture or just visiting a museum, the ability to further educate yourself is endless.
BRINGING CLIENTS ALONG
You may, from time to time, have a client who is from or near the city that K/BIS is in. And if this project is in the planning stage, why not welcome that client to attend the show with you? Sometimes clients are open to traveling to this event, if invited to attend. I’ve utilized the show in both Chicago and Atlanta with clients, and it helped tremendously.
Here are a few ideas to make this process constructive and productive, rather than an overwhelming task for your client:
Develop an agenda.
I’m a firm believer in creating a formal agenda as an initial step in any of my client meetings. This develops a base point to start with and should outline both parties’ expectations. Determine what is needed in the project and what products you need to specify. You will be the key to determining what products fit their design criteria, their likes and dislikes and their budget. Make a list of the key products you need to review with them and use this as your road map to the show.
Do your research first.
Try to visit the show without your client the day before, so you can get the lay of the land and start investigating exhibitors. Narrow it to a few exhibitors for each product. The show’s size and content can be overwhelming even to us at times, so narrowing down the choices will help the client to have a positive experience.