It's never enough to know how to produce a quality mold and understand customer needs to grow your business. You also need to have complete and current knowledge about the moldmaking business and learn future trends. Attending an industry trade show - even during a down economy - can be the best vehicle to obtain that knowledge and receive ideas that can help you make educated decisions on how to help your company move forward.
Another good reason to attend a show is this: as a mold shop owner, you are under pressure and worried about how you're going to survive this tough economy and compete with foreign outsourcing. Add to it the long hours you're working, as well as the fact that you're so consumed with the "bottom line," and you may need to "slow down in order to speed up." You may need to stop for a moment and apply some creative thinking to your business. Attending a trade show can stimulate that creativity and provide the momentum that will help you take action to move forward.
Here's something else you may wish to consider: visibility is important. If you've consistently attended an industry show in the past and suddenly do not, your absence may send a negative message about your business to your employees, suppliers and worse - your competitors.
Tips to the Trade
Below are a few tips that can help you achieve the most when attending a show.
- Time is at a premium at a trade show. Plan in advance; reserve your badge ahead of time. Make appointments with people you wish to see. Make a list of what specifically you want to learn. If seminars are being offered, sign up for them in advance.
- Take charge! Consider arranging a meeting with other owners, managers and suppliers to ask what they are doing in their companies and what they see for the future. Use it as an idea exchange.
- If possible, arrive early (before the show officially opens if you can), and try to cruise through quickly and undisturbed. The booths are devoid of people at this time and you can get a good overview. (Of course, this depends on the size of the show. If it is a major trade show, that would be counterproductive.)
- Take the time to walk the show thoroughly and completely so you will get the biggest bang for your buck.
- Carry a small note pad and take as many notes as possible.
- Knowledge is power. Gather as much information as you can. Find out what new products, manufacturing techniques and services are available to you that can help you expand your business and increase productivity and profitability.
- If your competition is exhibiting, investigate and learn as much as you can about them. There's no law that says you can't walk into their booth. Don't be afraid to be bold in approaching them to ask questions.
- Talk to show managers, association executives, seminar leaders and other moldmaking industry experts while at the show to obtain their perspective on the future.
- Talk to finance companies. Of course, they'll try to get your business, but they also can tell you what their clients are doing to help them through the economy.
- Looking to buy? No one wants to take their equipment back to their warehouse. If you are interested in making an equipment purchase at the show, go to your bank or finance company prior to attending and obtain pre-approved credit so you know the amount of money you have available to you and what your monthly payments will be. You will then be in a better position to negotiate a great price at the trade show.
After the show, ask these questions:
- Where might there be an opportunity to form a strategic alliance or make contacts with another mold shop that could be a good marriage for a merger? (If your company is to survive, you may have to consider joining forces with another organization.)
- How can we leverage vendor expertise and partner for success through strategic alliances?
- Is there a way we can diversify our business? How?
- What is the competition doing? How do we compare? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we be better, different and outshine them?
Finally, record what you've learned from attending the show, and rethink your entire business strategy. How can we get new business? What "idea of ideas" can help us move forward?
There will be winners and losers in this economy for sure, but only those mold shops that arm themselves with industry knowledge and are willing to take action toward positive change will have the ability to carry their organization into a successful future. If you want to increase your ability to remain competitive and end up a winner down the long road ahead, you should attend industry trade shows. It is an ideal vehicle to obtain the knowledge that you need to help you strategize, improve operations and make smart decisions to help you compete and win.