Who Will Help You?

Aug 10, 2010

With trade show season nearly upon us, it’s time to start making your travel plans, as well as lists of must-see companies and must-have products once you arrive at the convention center.

As usual, much of the conversation with manufacturers and suppliers will revolve around expected topics—product innovation, application availability, technical support, warranties and, of course, pricing. Purchasing decisions will be made, and the makeup of your product mix will help determine the framework of your shop’s direction leading into next year and beyond.

But before you start shaking hands and exchanging business cards, there’s another layer of information that can help spearhead your sales efforts moving forward.

Over the summer, Performance Business has offered a series of business articles designed to get shop owners thinking about the long-term direction of their company, including tips on marketing, showroom design and planning.

Many of these articles included suggestions to help you connect with your customers. But here are three not-so-obvious ways that product suppliers can help you earn more money as we close out 2010.

Market trends and analysis. In a recent column in Performance Business, Dick Dixon discusses the importance of having an up-to-date strategic business plan, complete with analytics that predict future market trends and therefore expected profits.

Do you have the resources to perform a complete market study? Probably not. But many manufacturers and suppliers keep a close eye on trends, in order to set their own long-term plans.

When you meet with companies at a trade show or other sit-down, ask what information they can share about market projections and areas you could possibly target in order to increase your own profits.

Showroom design assistance. Many speed shops are notorious for having tiny, cluttered or non-existent showrooms. However, research shows that the more a customer sees when he visits, the more he’s likely to buy.

If you’re considering similar products from like suppliers and are having a hard time choosing, take a minute to ask about their point-of-sale support. Do they offer attractive packaging? Point-of-purchase devices or other displays? Brochures, literature or posters? Anything that will make customers notice the products?

In our latest showroom design article, several companies explain why keeping a display area fresh and invigorating is vital to add-on sales. Ask you suppliers how they can help.

Good-customer benefits. Everyone likes to be treated like a VIP, and chances are you do something special for your best customers. Shouldn’t your relationship with your suppliers be the same?

Columnist Phil Sasso talks about how effective loyalty programs are, even to veteran marketers. There’s no harm is asking about the types of rewards you can earn for your shop by being a reliable customer.

So get those questions ready—the trade show floor awaits.