The Car Show and how Executive Edge runs a vendor booth
Classic Cars! Boy do we love classic cars at Executive Edge. All of us have a thing for them, so we have made it a point to start getting out to the local shows and classic car events. We did our second ever vendor booth. We did our first one last Spring out at Lake McClure, and I learned from that one everything I thought we needed to know about being a vendor at a car show.
Of course, I didnt really think that, but I didnt think we were as far off as we were.
This blog is for our friends who own a business and may be thinking of running a vendor booth in the future. Some of you are our clients, some of you our industry friends and some of you just found us on google searching for advise on running a booth at a car show or event.
First let me tell you what we did wrong & how in what ways it irritated us. Then I will tell you what we did RIGHT. Then I will tell you what we are going to do DIFFERENT next time. This is what we we did wrong:
1. Brought a company event kit. Yes we did. The first event, we brought an event kit that The Hartford loaned us. Had a Hartford table cloth, a stand up aluminum banner, a regular vinyl banner and etc. Why this was a bad idea will surprise you. Hartford is one of my favorite companies! It wasnt the best idea because I had people who did NOT like what AARP did to support the whole Obamacare/ACA knockdown, dragout mess. We had to hear the stories from folks who were pretty darn mad. We would have been better off if we had just stuck to our own identities and not wearing someone's more famous. I will say though, that even through that, I still gained a VERY IMPORTANT customer who is now a friend and I did get past that... but, to do over, I wouldnt borrow a companies event kit.
2. I didnt account for the wind either the first event we did or the one we did today. Luckily today I happened to have lots of TAPE with me so I could tape our stuff down when the little breezes came through.
3. I forgot my tablecloths today. When I asked my husband to bring them out, he couldnt find the ones I wanted so I had to use an extra vinyl kitchen one we have... ugh. Oh well, it was better than nothing. A bare, gray or white plastic folding table looks awful and uninviting.
4. We didn't wear company shirts the first time we did an event. That was dumb. Alas, we still made the days a success, even with the things we've done wrong.
So, there is what I did wrong. Now here is what we did right.:
1. We Brought our OWN BANNER. We had one special made for this type of event in fact. It wasn't just a plain banner, it said "Customer Car Insurance" on the top of the banner, real big and then it said our agency name in the middle, centered, and then along the bottom was our phone number and our website. When the customer walked up, they knew exactly why we had come to their event & what we wanted to talk to them about.
2. We built a prize wheel! It was quite a conversation piece too! My son made it out of wood pieces we found at Hobby Lobby. Nothing fancy, it was actually a plate and a picture frame I guess- thats what their intended purpose was. If you go to our facebook page you can see it- I may edit to upload it here later on. So, the prize wheel was spun every hour on the hour, the first 6 people to arrive could spin it. We had prizes from WalMart & even the Dollar store but, they were practical and useful. Microfiber Dashboard cleaners, Microfiber window cleaners, magnetic pickeruppers, jar openers, keychains, LED flashlights, some black pens my sister made duct tape roses on the top ends of with my logo colors. Those were a hit by the way. You had to spin a "1" to get those. There was this fella there who wanted one for his wife, really wanted to take her a rose... he kept spinning the "Lose a Turn". I finally just GAVE him the rose pen to give her lol. Awww! We probably got him kissed today!
3. We left our booth and visited other booths. We asked people about their cars and let them tell us about their customization of it. We didnt have to say who we were, it said it on our shirts. We, of course left someone at the table to run the prize wheel and guard the uber loots, but we took turns running about. I will note here though that I was the one who found the indoor toilets first!
4. We ran a cell phone charging station. Anyone who needed to charge their phone could sit right down and plug in. Great feature!
5. We gave kids free bubbles and free balloons, luckily I had found a boxed helium set yesterday at the last minute because it was a last minute idea. We also gave them punch balloons. Kept the kids coming back when they'd lose their balloon :) Of course they dragged their parents too.
6. We did a drawing for a 26pc emergency roadside kit. People entered by giving us their contact info on a little paper we premade and we dropped it in the helium balloon box since we "repurposed" the original box we intended to use for collecting them (we had to put the prizes in it to save them from blowing away in the wind & looking tacky.
Here is what we will do better next time:
1. We will make a list of things we plan to bring (I will probably make that tonight since our next event is in 2 weeks).
2. Pack our cars the night before OR just set everything in a pile in the garage.
3. We will NOT forget the tablecloths. Having everything match is a MUST.
4. We will bring a wagon to haul it all from the car to the set up spot, even if it isnt FAR, too many trips back n forth from the trunk are annoying.
5. We will keep the loot in a rolling tote, except for 1 example of each prize. Junking up the tables is a no no.
6. We will identify which table format is best according to the direction of trafific. Whoever adcvised in their blog to set up tables in a U shape is an idiot. We tried that, we only left it that way about 20 minutes. We realized it was NOT inviting at all, and a customer would feel they were into our personal space. As a vendor, we noticed more traffic once we had a table for them to walk up to.
7. We will have A-frames/sandwich boards next time. Anywhere we can get advertising all spaced out, not bunched up on tables. That is such overload. Too many brochues makes us want to beat ourselves in the heads with them and then gag on the crumpled up remains.
8. We will have one binder that has all the product information in it a customer could possibly ask for. Then we wont have to have so many brochures to beat ourselves with and choke on. A guy wanted to know if his car has a roll cage in it, would it be excluded from coverage? I had a brochure with the info on it but instead, I just went to my phone and pulled up the guidelines and verified the companies feelings about roll cages. I didnt want to deal with the brochure that I had secured in a clamp so the wind couldnt blow it away.
9. I will eat before everyone else does. Yeah, I blew it today, I went to eat at noon. The line was long, and they were out of tri-tip. At least I made friends in the line!
10. Bring a TV to run a slide show. Anything I can get that is flashy and high tech and impressive. My booth was a little boring, hence, we all took turns getting up and out of it. The only thing great about it were the prizes.
10. I will bring my dog. I missed her today. She totally could have done this thing with me and been loved out there. She's a great conversation pieces too, she is a rare breed that has a mohawk, people always love her and ask about her. One thing about Classic Car policies is that they usually come with built in coverage for your animals. Many people who have collector cars also have designer dogs. Gotta cover the pooch, so she is totally relevent to the event!
So there you have it. Vendor fairs really arent EASY the first few times. You work at it to get your flow. Depending on your industry, you could end up needing a few practice runs before you have it down pat. Each time you get a new idea. Some people had MATCHING canopies and table cloths! I wont go that far yet, but maybe someday.
You will see us next at the Atwater Fall Festival. There is ALSO a collector car show there too! I think much smaller scale though so we wont be gearing up so much JUST For going to a car show. We will be prepared to sit in our booth and talk at the table. We know not many will want to stop and talk about insurance so, mostly we are just there to be a cute booth along the way. I havent quite decided what sort of product we will have featured. Probably health insurance, because I think that is what the public really needs from us right now. Covered CA will PROBABLY be out there, I will double check on it, but if they arent I will likely feature that and stay in my booth, Kelly might be out in the Car area checking out the muscles on the hot rods. Chris probably wont be too far behind her.