GETTING THE MOST: By now, I have mastered the art of preparing for and getting the most out of the International LCT Show. How do you stack up?
Leaving your business behind is always a daunting event. You know that anything that can come up must be planned for in advance, and key people must be left in charge to make decisions on behalf of you and your company.
Blank checks must be signed if you don’t have another check signer. Chauffeurs must be scheduled for each job if you are the one that handles scheduling. There are a host of other arrangements, such as who will make bank deposits, who will handle your calls, and who can an employee turn to for help while you are gone.
All this planning is vital to your success while you attend the show. You may not think so, but the fact is, once you arrive in Vegas, you should be ready to learn and be able to leave the office drama back at the office. Most seminar leaders will ask you to turn your cell phones off while attending their class. I know no one actually turns their phone off but rather to silent. However, calls should be limited to true emergencies and command decisions that must be made so that you can fully absorb the classes, the presentations, and social time with your peers.
For many people, I suppose they simply throw a few suits in a suitcase and head over to Vegas. I myself am the worst at packing personal belongings. I always seem to wait until about an hour before departure time to gather my clothes and toiletries but spend a week to 10 days preparing my work materials and planning for the show.
One primary focus I always have is meeting new people who can farm work in to me and that I can add to my master affiliate map nationwide for farm outs. I like to do business with people that I have met in person. I like to share a meal or at least a cocktail with people I meet and look in their eyes when they talk about their business to see if it is just a job or it is a passion as with me. This means bringing plenty of business cards to hand out. You should be handing out cards to every single person you meet. It is a great conversation starter just to ask someone where they are from and offer a card. Of course, all the cards you collect and people you meet can become confusing, so I like to take my digital camera with me and take a photo of people I meet. I try to make sure and get their name badges in the photo and then take a Sharpie pen and write the photo number on their business cards for later reference. I also like to write 3 x 5 note cards that reference details of people I am most interested in keeping in touch with such as their fleet size, location, key people in their office if they are not in, how long they have been in business, and special niche’ markets they serve that might help me write future articles.
Another tactic is to review the daily schedule of events before arriving so you can plan which events to attend. This can be a challenge in itself as some times there are so many choices in a given hour that it is hard to decide. If George Jacobs is speaking, I want to be there. If Dawson Rutter is speaking, I want to be there. I don’t even care what they are talking about. I learn something new every time I listen to these experienced operators talk. The social events are the kind of events you just don’t want to miss for the networking opportunities and the opportunity to let your hair down and dance. Okay, I dance but I don’t let my hair down simply because I don’t have much left. I mean who doesn’t dream about taking a spin on the dance floor with Sara Eastwood-McLean?
Next up is planning to attend the private parties and meetings. Companies such as Music Express and Empire/CLS always take the opportunity to get all their affiliates together for a brief meeting. Coachbuilders such as Tiffany and Krystal host private suite parties by invitation only. These parties are usually held as a thank you to clients who have bought vehicles from them and are not announced anywhere in official show brochures. Be sure to ask your coachbuilder and networks if they are doing anything special in Vegas. Of course all the people who share information on the Limos.com forum make some time to share cocktails and visit with each other face to face. I’ll be there.
Last, but not least, it’s Vegas baby……and fun must be had. I always want to set aside time to take in a show, do a little gambling, and take in the sights and sounds of the city that never sleeps. The International LCT Show offers very little time for this so I have to pencil it in somewhere. I think I need to start a spreadsheet to keep track of it all.
For those of you who are reading this and not planning to attend, I am sure you have an excuse. The two I hear most commonly are, “I can’t afford it” and “I don’t have anyone to cover the office.” Neither are valid in my mind. The cost to attend the show is a chunk of change but the value you receive, the contacts that you make, and the success you will enjoy in the long run far offsets the cash layout to attend. And don’t forget about call-forwarding. It can give you peace of mind.
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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