The annual Limousine Association of New Jersey fundraiser has long served as a role model for industry togetherness.
LAS VEGAS -- Attending the 2014 International LCT Show offers many opportunities for meeting new people, learning about new products, collecting lots of “swag,” and possibly purchasing a new vehicle at special show pricing. Dealing with so much take-home value can be overwhelming. Use this handy guide to process it all.
By far the largest amount of data you will be taking home from a show is new contact information. The ILCT Show has so many networking opportunities that you are bound to meet new connections that you will want to hold on to for future use. These include fellow operators that you may need to farm work to someday or you may want to make sure they farm work to you in the future. There are vendors that you might be interested in communicating with down the road such as insurance brokers or vehicle maintenance suppliers. You can go home and stash the numerous business cards in a drawer and receive no benefit at all or you can get to work right away to categorize your contacts.
A simple way to make the process easier is to write notes and codes on business cards as you receive them. Carry a fine point Sharpie to write on the glossy cards. Jot down a code such as “A” for potential affiliates or “V” for potential vendors. You might add “F” if you promised a follow-up call. Coding the business cards at the Show will make it easier for you to delegate processing to your staff.
Use this simple coding system to write on business cards received at trade shows:
A - AFFILIATE Operator
C - Coachbuilder
F - Follow-Up Needed
K - Keep in Touch
V - Vendor
Your New Affiliates
If you maintain an electronic affiliate database, enter all the potential affiliates into the database. You should also consider a follow-up letter or email to say how much you enjoyed meeting the person and remind them of the city you serve and the services and equipment you offer. If you can make a personal reference such as, “I enjoyed meeting you at the Beer Blitz” it will help jog the memory of the person receiving the note since they too will be inundated with new contacts. If you meet someone you particularly like and want to stay in touch with, write a “K” on the card to keep in touch.
Without a doubt, you will find a potential vendor you may want to do business with. With software vendors, insurance brokers, GPS systems, financing companies, credit card processors and offsite dispatching services, you may want to have further discussion about their products when you return home. If someone gives you a sample of car wax with a business card, write that down on their card so when you decide you absolutely love the shine, you know where to buy the product. If you see a software demo and have an interest but feel rushed or confused about it, discuss a follow-up call with the sales rep so when you return home you can spend more time on your research and final decision making. Write an “F” on the business card to indicate you need to make a follow-up call when you get home or setup a date and time for a future phone conference if convenient.
Not every person you meet will become an affiliate or a vendor. However, as an industry that operates as a lifestyle rather than a job, it is always nice to converse with others in the industry to obtain advice or guidance or simply bounce ideas off the wall together. Be sure to initiate a dialogue as soon as you get home by calling or emailing to establish an ongoing friendship. Don’t forget to ask them if they are on any social media sites to help develop the friendship.
The Free Goodies
As eager as you are to remember everyone you meet, vendors are eager for you to remember meeting them. This is accomplished by giving away what is commonly referred to as “swag” or promotional gifts. When you check in to the ILCT Show (or any LCT show), the first thing we do is give you a bag. You’re going to need it. Even the bag itself is plastered with the logo of the “bag sponsor” and these bags can be used later to go to the beach, an amusement park or simply carrying your lunch to work. But, during the show, these bags are filled with letter openers, Post-It pads, pens, stress balls, beads, hats, rulers, candy and just about anything else you can put a logo on. While you might not be interested in another ink pen, sharing these goodies with your staff when you get home is always nice for them. If you don’t want it, give it to someone that does. Don’t be bashful about grabbing swag off the table either, especially on the last day of the show. Anything left must be packed up and shipped or carried back to the home office and vendors don’t want to do that. They brought it to the show to give it away.
Many product samples are given out on the show floor. They range from car washing products to software demos on a disc. If you are truly interested in the product, take the sample. Make notes on the business card of the person providing the sample so that you can contact the vendor if you wish to make a purchase. Often, people throw samples in their bag without a business card and have no idea what vendor they received the sample from. While a smart vendor would make sure their name is on their product, not all do so take a moment to document it when you receive it if you might want to buy it.
With the largest industry educational series under one roof, you are bound to learn new methods of doing things and be eager to implement these new ideas as soon as you get home. Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t implement everything the day you get home despite your excitement and enthusiasm. As you attend various seminars and pickup ideas that you want to implement into your operations, code the material with priority numbers 1-2-3. Obviously, items marked Priority 1 should be given attention as soon as you get home and Priority 3 handled down the road. At the same time, think about people on your staff that may be best suited for implementing the new idea and take notes that can easily be handed over to someone for implementation or type up your own summary and vision of the idea or plan for your delegate.
Bought A Vehicle?
The ILCT Show is the absolute best place to purchase a new vehicle. There is no other place in the world that you can view the vehicles of so many coachbuilders and vehicle manufacturers at one time. The coachbuilders don’t want to drive the vehicles back to their facility at the end of the show. According to Sara Eastwood-McLean, publisher and show chair, coachbuilders are eager to make deals and close sales before the show ends. Be prepared to take delivery at the end of the show for coachbuilder vehicles. Arrange a line of credit in advance if you plan to buy and have your insurance agent ready to produce a binder so you can drive your vehicle home. If you purchase a stock manufacturer vehicle such as Toyota, Cadillac or Chrysler, the actual vehicle will be delivered to your local dealership.
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