When I started working for my father 14 years ago, although the company had been around since 1984, many had not heard of us. So, we reached outside of our comfort zone and signed up for a home show held at the city convention center.
We were part of that show for eight years. In that time, we expanded our booth to a 30x30 room (That is 900 square feet of space to fill!) where we did everything from leading technology tours, building a children’s home theater, and performing an hourly stage presentation. Needless to say, those shows were a lot of work. Eventually a new home show, closer to our showroom location, gained some momentum, convincing us to participate in that event.
Business grew. People not only knew our name, but they remembered us and looked for us each year. We became local experts and sometimes would receive calls many months later for systems. It was a great return on investment—eventually. Some of our largest clients over the years were people we met at those shows.
Did I mention it was a lot of work? After so many years of doing home shows, we got burned out, and stopped exhibiting. This week, after a three-year hiatus, we’re back.
After a three-year hiatus, we’re exhibiting again at our local home show
Why go back to exhibiting at a home show when business is stable and the many of the good people of western New York already know who we are? I will give you three reasons.
1. Technology has Changed. A house is assembled inside the events center right in the middle of the show floor. In years past we have installed some great systems, although complicated.
Our very first year at our very first show (this is going back to early 2000s) we installed a system that actually caught on fire—well, smoked—as the show doors opened. Other years we spent evenings programming and working out major automation kinks.
This year, we are installing Sonos. We will be showing off this lower profit margin system because it works, and it is simple. You can install a few rooms of music for a client, including a sound bar, in just a few hours, and music changes everything. We have never had the system “live” so far before opening the show. It certainly does take the pressure off.
2. Forces Us to Re-establish Ourselves. I’m presenting a 30-minute seminar a few times within the four days that show is running. I wrote it from the perspective of general public—the consumer. What do they want to know? What technologies would change their world? My topic is "5 of the Latest, Greatest Technologies,” which I defined as wireless audio (“and, hey, go see the Sonos system in the house!”), soundbars, TV technologies (“what is 4K and why should I care?”), smart lighting (“lights that turn themselves on and off”) and wireless networking (aka “invisible tech.”)
3. It’s a Huge Team-Building Exercise. Designing, building, loading in, working, and loading out will require most, if not all, of your team to be on hyper-drive. It is exhausting and magical at the same time. When the last potential client has left the booth and everything is packed away, we go out and celebrate with wings and drinks. You come together and tell stories and share battle wounds. It is one of those rare times everyone hangs out as a company, and it is good. There is camaraderie, and the team becomes better together than apart. It is the heart of the business.
Wish us luck as we embark on familiar paths that will lead the way for the next wave of this thing we call a business.
Do you and your company do home shows? What has been your experience? Tell me in the comments section below.