Where The Magic Happens

Where the magic happens

My friend Todd valued one resource above all all others. Well, make that two resources: About equally he valued “Firepower,” and Time. Firepower is something that somebody has as a talent or gift, and while you can develop Firepower mostly you need to be born with it. Time, on the other hand, is something that we all have and most of us waste.

Not so, Todd – he lay awake at night thinking about wasted time. They say that the poet Keats was passionate and prolific about writing because he knew that he would never have enough time in his life to get it all done. I think that perhaps Todd knew the same thing about himself, and this is what drove him to be such a prolific climber.

These days, as business people in the outdoor industry (or anywhere), there are many demands on our time and attention. I don’t intend to list them here. (That would be a waste of time, after all.) What seems obvious though is that we all need to do more things working together as groups. We can save time, dollars, and resources if we do.

The question is: How can we work together more? There are already too many tradeshows, and yet more are being added all the time. Why is this? Well, obviously nobody has quite hit the model, yet. No single tradeshow addresses every need, and – perhaps – no one tradeshow ever will. As one person put it on Twitter: “Too many tradeshows – regional and national – apparently the solution is to add another?”

Yeah, maybe that is the solution.

Last summer, we here at Pemba Serves were part of an initiative to start a new regional tradeshow here in Madison. One of the ways that we presented it is that by having a strong, dynamic regional show we all – reps, retailers, and vendors – saved time and dollars. We did some analysis of this to state our case. Basically, we compared the cost in dollars, gas, and time of ten reps visiting ten stores versus twenty people all coming together at the same time and place to get work done. We discovered some interesting things:

  • Traveling the territory is 7 times more expensive and used 7 times as much gas as having people come to a centrally located show.
  • For ten reps to visit ten stores, it took almost 14 times as many man-hours as going to a show.
  • The opportunity costs for these same rep man-hours total over $27,000 for the reps, and just under $400,000 for the manufacturers that employ the reps.
  • For reps in the Midwest, the average wholesale order needed, per store, to break even on the road (in just gas expense and time) is almost $4500. By contrast, to pay for the time to travel to a centrally located tradeshow, a rep only needs to generate a little over $2600 in wholesale orders, total. (With the time left over, reps can – Hey! – make more sales…)
  • Because shows are far more efficient and effective by creating more sales (and for retailers, discount) opportunities for the amount of time allowed, shows are a more profitable use of time for everybody.

[Note that all of these figures are for one-way travel, only. In other words, the real expense of two-way travel is roughly double what’s quoted, above.]

For those who are curious, you can check all of the analysis yourself. (There’s a lot more that can be done with this spreadsheet, for sure, and feel free to do so.) From a cost/benefit, ROI basis, there’s no question that group events such as tradeshows (Training Events, Consumer Shows, and so forth) save dollars, gas, and – in particular – time for reps, retailers, and vendors.

Shows are where the magic happens, for sure.

Fortunately, time is something that we can all manage better. If time and attention are our most important resources, let’s manage our businesses accordingly. So, see you at the shows!

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