Before I dive into how we increased our trade show efficiency, let me apologize for the delay in posting this… We had a minor office emergency yesterday in the form of this massive mess. Gutters and pipes don’t seems to do well with melting ice - which resulted in said pipe bursting and lots of flowing water.
Does your company attend trade shows as a vendor or an attendee? LockNet has long been on the trade show scene and we continue to use it for brand awareness, customer relations, and of course lead generation.
We can’t be the only company that starts eating tums like candy during the trade show season… this time of year is notoriously stressful for everyone that throws themselves into it. Prior to my start in coordinating trade shows for LockNet last year, I could have never dreamed of the amount of hours and energy that goes into planning for a trade show. Between presentations, customer giveaways, booth fun, and the logistics of getting everything to the show site we spend a good chunk of our time in “trade show land” this time of year.
After the hours and hours of planning comes the true test – shipping and assembly. All of our efforts get meticulously inventoried and packed onto two skids. Here’s the main skid ready for shipping, that beautiful gray one gets a skid all to itself. When it goes out the door, it’s like watching your child drive off to college – you hope and pray it makes it there safely, has a good time, and returns home unscathed.
Last year, after a dozen last minute shipments of the forgotten pieces, we made it to RFMA, our first show of the season.. The show was great – the conversations were great, and it only took us 3 hours to set the booth up. (Yes – we were excited that it only took 5 of us 3 hours). Here’s the booth in all of its shining glory. After the show ended, the rest of the team was gone on to bigger and better things and Vicki Heilig (LockNet’s Director – National Accounts) and I were left to dismantle and pack up the booth to ship it back home. Either the heavens were looking down us or Vicki just used her 15 years in the biz as leverage and recruited some help. The guys at DMC Facilities saved the day by rounding up a crew of guys to help us tear everything down. That process took around 5ish hours and looked (and felt) something like this…
Complete and total madness. Hence the reason my skin crawls every time I even think about this booth, but the show must go on right? The festivities hit full force yesterday as Katie and I hit the warehouse to pack up all the new stuff with the old in our brand new custom shipping crate. That doesn’t sound that exciting does it? Let me back up.
Even though each piece of the booth had its own custom shipping case, as evidenced by the picture above, setup and tear down was still a nightmare. What do you do when your sales team is a frantic mess every time they try to setup or tear down a booth, packing and shipping is a nightmare, and every shipment is coming back almost dismantled? When all else fails… organize!
Katie had a dream crate in mind, and requested quotes from a few manufacturers after we wrapped up the 2013 shows. We had a bit of sticker shock when the quotes came back at 5 digits. Katie’s first reaction? “Jeff Jasper [remember him from this post?] could totally build that.”
We’re not the type to idly sit by, or let our dreams fall and burn without giving it the old college try – Katie and Zach (LockNet’s Chief Operating Officer) took to AutoCAD and designed a custom crate to hold every piece of the booth and the fun stuff that accompanies it.
This project was their baby for months and the end product is AMAZING! The side lid opens to reveal each piece of the booth’s base in these foam compartments. To quote the crate’s creator “putting in this foam was like putting pants on a fish.” I’m not 100% sure of the technical details that led to such an extreme level of difficulty – it must have slipped my mind after the laughing fits.
Coming around the side of the lidded area, there is a compartment for the original cases to roll into. The team can roll them out when they’re ready for that piece or keep them stowed away and out of the very tight assembly areas. For the record, I’m 5’2”ish and am only ½” shy of being able to tap dance in this little playhouse.
Now this is probably my favorite part – supreme organization in the rear area of the crate! Three fully functional stacked drawers for all the small stuff. These will hold business cards, giveaways, the booth fun, collateral, tools, supplies, video game consoles, and cords cords cords!
Now, we’re not ones to skate by with the bare minimum. In addition to the stacked drawers are three deeper drawers along the bottom. Lock samples are nested in custom polyurethane foam in each of the bins you see below.
Before our epic rebranding of 2012, we were sending around 300 pounds of stuff. With our awesome new booth, we upped the ante to 1,000 pounds – we were amazed that we had added so much heft. But yesterday we weighed the new crate…. It weighed in at an impressive 1,688 pounds! The possibilities are limitless when you have the manpower and the skills to make it happen. I’m currently sketching up some drafts for a “mommy-retreat” in playhouse form, surely Jeff won’t mind…