Home Shows

I am seeing that several of the guys on here have been doing home shows. I think its a great idea.

Generally, what does it cost for you to be in these shows?

and about how many calls are you getting after the show?

There are a few home shows in our area, I am trying to figure out if it is better to do several smaller ads or to do 1 home show that would cost maybe 2-3 times what I pay for one ad.

$500.00 is our rate. That much again for a basic set up.

Sometimes we get calls later but I go there to fill the schedule, not to hope somebody calls later.

You will have to really screw up your first show to not want to do every show you can thereafter.

That is a fair price that I could justify spending to do a show, like you said I think you would have to screw up bad not to get at least 2 sales to break even. Even if you managed to hand out several hundred business cards you should get more from people that call after the show.

Exposure is the important part. On top of that Trade Shows are fun.

Sales. I do shows to get sales.

I don’t think I did a very good job explaining myself.

I think depending on the cost of the Home Show as with any other form of advertising, when we try a new source of advertising our hope at the very least is that you break even. If you spend $1000 on one campaign, you hope to at the least get your $1000 back so you can reinvest it in another form of advertising if the campaign was not successful.

Sometime you will and sometimes you will not, you learn with experience.

Considering that a home is the largest investment anyone will make, with a home show your perfect customer is right there. Of course sales would be the main goal. But for those that have never tried it or the cost of being in the show intimidates them, l look at it from the point of view as worst case scenario you only need to make 2 sales to break even and if that is all you did at the very worse you are still getting exposure for your business from others that may call you later.

Break even. I do that by staying home. Five dollars in sales for every one dollar invested is a return that sucks. But it is acceptable to some (me, for instance).

If you just want everybody to like you and know your name, run for political office.

If you are going to a sales event, SELL.

Be careful of the defeatist attitude that just squeaking by is adequate. It is no way to begin a business.

Breaking even is better than failing miserably investing in the wrong type of advertising. I am saying that if you are intimidated trying a new advertising campaign because you are not sure how it will do, you have to look at what it will take to break even. At the very worst you want to at least break even. That is not a goal, you are there to sell like you said.

But like you said earlier that you would have to really screw up bad to not want to do it again.

Breaking even is a losers bet. Period. Why would you undertake a gamble and be happy if you didn’t lose any money?

It cost me almost seven cents for every dollar that I brought in last year.

Anything that I add to that mix that cost me one dollar to bring in one dollar screws up my numbers really badly.

Quit talking about breaking even as if it is acceptable. It is not.

There are too many guys that come on the forums and don’t know what to believe. Please do not add to the mis-information.

I think, I again did poorly explaining. I would never want to add to misinformation, there is enough of that our there.

It is never the goals to break even, planning to break even is unacceptable but in a worst case scenario when the odds are against you and there are events that are beyond your control and this will happen to everyone in the business. Breaking even is a win.

Okay. I will let you have the last word.

But I will not let it be that breaking even is a win.

Been there, done that. It is a loss.

I understand what you are saying. You are correct it is still a loss no matter how one wants to look at it.

Breaking even on a cash flow basis meaning that you spent $1000 and only made $1000 so you broke even. But in actuality you are at a loss because that does not take into account any operating expenses etc. incurred to make the $1000 back.

But anyway.

How many years have you been doing the show and what kind of promotions have worked for you?

If the price to be a part of the show was different, what would be affordable for you?

I am the Chairman of the local Home Show and have been for the last four or five years.

I have exhibited in the show for (I’m guessing) twelve years. This is maybe our 6th year exhibiting as pressure washing contractors.

It is a small show, about 150 exhibitors and close to 200 booths. Out of the 150 exhibitors that we had last year, we have five confirmed as not returning this year. I would venture to say that they are more than breaking even to have that kind of return rate.

My goal is to pay my out of pocket costs back 5/1 in work signed up. Last year, we hit that goal within the first four hours of the show starting.

We have done a double booth at $1,000.00 in the past just to see if we could alleviate the crowding in the booth but have since gone back to a single.

Our busiest, buzziest show was when we gave a $35.00 Gift Card just for registering. The noise and busyness was a waste of time.

Our best promotion is a smile. One year we gave a $50.00 discount for signing up at the show. Whatever, I was not impressed.

One more note; Last year we did yard signs promoting the show. Our attendance was up almost ten percent over each of the several years
prior. Hmmm…

that is a really nice display, it doesnt look over the top or expensive.

What kind of attendance numbers do you get at your show?

We have a fall and spring show here in charlotte. Do you think it would be worth doing both or is the sprint the better time when things get warmer?

We probably average six to seven thousand visitors each year. It is a two day show, Saturday and Sunday.

We are busy in the spring, a little less so in the summer and then fall is our “second season” so I would do a fall show if I had that option.

So you are saying that it would be worth doing both shows if you had the option?

I really need to check and see what their pricing is, I know that the attendance here is big. They promote it heavily on TV and print ads.

Based on my situation, yes, I would do a fall show if that was an option. I have no idea what the show is like in your area.

Check into whoever is promoting the Home-shows. Your market should have a really nice one with lots of promotion. Research for attendance numbers. You might even call around to other businesses that do home shows to get their feedback.

Don’t expect to hit a home run with business from the home show, but the marketing & branding (Visibility) aspect should be priceless. Also a great way of collecting names, addresses, phone #'s, and email addys for follow up, email campaigns, and eddm.

Sign up as early as possible. If the show promotor is good they know the really good, high trafficked aisles and booths. Those get booked up fast. If you sign up last minute, you will be told you are in a great spot, but may only see 1/4 of the traffic. Also, find out how many competitors of yours are in there. It matters. We did a huge show a few years ago (over 40,000 attendance, 96% homeowners) and almost broke even. It was a total waste of TIME and money. One of my competitors goes back every year and books most of his year out. His display is very similar to ours though I didn’t see any promotions. He was even sitting down and staring at his phone when I paid him a visit. But he is in one of the main aisles.

I’m a huge advocate of home shows. We’ve been doing them for 15 years and do around 15 shows every year. We have 13 on the schedule currently just for Spring all within an hour and a half radius from our home location.

I’m a firm believer that if you get the traffic you have the ability to get a great return out of nearly any show. I see time and time again where businesses staff their booth space with people who just don’t give a crap. They sit in the back of the booth eating, reading the paper and all in all trying to avoid the public. They make no attempt to work the show and draw people in and are a total waste of money. Many times this is the business owner as well. Give me traffic and I’ll sell jobs. In addition I’ll have people calling in through the season from the literature they collected at the show.

Our shows average $500 to $1000 and bring in anywhere from 2000 to 13,000 attendees in general. They’re usually weekend events but not always. We do business expos at the local chambers that are 4 hours on a Tuesday and they’ll churn a thousand heads through the show.

Tips to a great home show experience?

  1. Create a inviting booth - no tables or items to block patrons from stepping in and checking out your offerings.
  2. No chairs in the booth. Hard to sell sitting down the whole time.
  3. Have a show special to entice sign ups there and now. Just like a Call to Action on a mailer.
  4. Stand at the front of your booth and engage people. A lot of people walk through these shows with blinders on.
  5. Hand out literature. Personally we force feed the crowds our brochures. We don’t wait for them to come ask or take one from us. Yes many get pitched but it’s no different than a EDDM campaign with that respect.
  6. Follow up within a few days at most. You’ll be a distant memory if you don’t follow up promptly and certainly if not at all.

We’ve had a couple shows over the years that what I would consider “bombed” (attendance under a 600 people) but even those create impressions. Give me 40,000 heads and I have little doubt that we could pull $80k to a $100k in work out of it over a season.

Home shows do pretty good for us, as most of the other guys have said… We have done a few though that have had very low traffic(other than what they advertised would be there) however for most shows there in the 500-675 range and can usually pay that off in the first hour of the show! Its also a plus that its somewhat of a niche market- compared to HVAC or bath-fitters that you see 5 of at each show.
Homeshows are no brainers! Most people are there to spend money, you just have to show them why it benefits them to spend it with you!