Attending a trade show is an expensive proposition. There’s airfare, Uber fees (and tips), hotel charges, and you’ll probably be hungry after a day checking out the exhibits, so you’ll be grabbing something to eat and drink. There’s also time lost from not being at your business — maybe you have to put on extra staff to cover your absence.
It all adds up — but attending trade show can also be an invaluable way to source new products, meet vendors and network with other business owners. Here are two tips for making the most out of your trade show trip and maximizing the money you have to spend.
Ask for discounts
This is the perfect time, when you are face to face with your best vendors, to ask for better prices on their products — permanently. Many small and mid-sized retailers think they don’t carry enough clout with their vendors to get preferred pricing like the big boys. Not necessarily true! You just have to ask. The very worst thing that can happen is your price stays the same, and, at very best, you may improve your margins by a couple of points.
Work for win-win deals with your vendors. Remember, your vendors are partners in your success. The goal in any successful negotiation is to find a solution where everyone is happy.
Stay within your budget
Decide how much you are going to spend at the show and do NOT spend more than you have budgeted. It’s easy to get over excited by all the new products on display and signs advertising killer show specials.
Saving money on show specials and discounts is one of the advantages of sourcing products at a trade show. But before you hand over the cash, consider whether it’s really a bargain. Many deals are going to be “cash and carry,” and even though you might get a good price, you’ll need to figure in the shipping costs or additional baggage fees to get the stuff back home.
They key is to keep your goal in mind and not go overboard loading up on things you don’t need, aren’t an exact match for your customer demographic or that you can’t resell in a reasonable amount of time. You can always contact the vendor and place an order with them once you get back to your store and the stars have cleared from your eyes.