If you’re in the flooring business, this is for you

Even though I’ve been in the floor covering industry for years, industry shows still get me excited. One of the nice things about the show is networking with old friends and industry experts. Many live far away and this is one way to meet in person, share ideas and catch up on the local news. There are also people that I see very rarely and this is a way to share our lives. I truly look forward to connecting.
Coverings is the premier international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcase the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone. It has grown to be the largest and most important show of its kind in the U.S.
Of course, the show is more than about networking but isn’t everything about networking? Even if you’re combining a short vacation with the show, I suggest you do some serious networking and go home with ideas to put some punch back in your business.
Make a list of the things that are most important to you: I usually divide mine into new products, interior-design tips and trends, installation ideas and materials and of course free seminars for my business. Personally, I would start with the seminars for my business: where else will you find industry experts sharing their latest ideas and best practices for free? What businesses can’t benefit from fresh marketing ideas, sales tips and customer retention ideas?
If you’ve been attending this show for years, you may take it for granted. I guarantee if you extend an invitation to your employees you will have lots of takers. How about bringing your key people along and have them scope out the show, attend seminars and bring back valuable information about your business? As part of your planning, have your employees organize a meeting when they get home and share what they learned. Don’t forget all the interesting magazines, product brochures and handouts that will inspire your staff.
Everything at the show is designed to inspire and improve your business.
Statistics tell us that 70% of people search on-line for recommendations before they decide where to shop. I also read that 52% said that positive on-line reviews made them more likely to use a local business. If you choose to post some, you can ask people to comment on what you post. This along with positive reviews about your store will influence customers. You may live within an area which considers itself to be provincial, a place where customers aren’t interested in the latest styles. Although they may stick to the ‘tried and true’ it doesn’t mean they don’t want to see what’s in style.
If they get some fresh ideas, it may spark an interest in new flooring.
I always try to remember to bring an empty suitcase with me to bring back all the goodies from the show. I used to ship things, but it’s cheaper to cart them with you, and I can bring a lot more things.
Don’t forget your warehouse people and your installers. The show is filled with tools, tips and equipment to make things easier and better. The show is filled with workshops and events sponsored by the Tile Council of North America; furthermore, a good place to get all of your technical questions answered.
As the show comes to a close, I start thinking; I wish I had a few more days. Every year, I say I’m going to get more organized. I think this is the year.

Lisbeth Calandrino is Associate Publisher and Director of Consumer Research with Fabulous Floors Magazine and is an author, sales trainer and public speaker. Lisbeth is speaking in two sessions at Coverings 2013: Combining Traditional Advertising/Marketing and Social Media to Build Your Marketing Plan on Tuesday, April 30 and How To Build Profitable Customers Through Experience Marketing on Wednesday, May 1.
Register today for free to attend both of her sessions.