This is the sixth of nine articles written by Matt Michel. This article can be read in its entirety on the Service Roundtable website. The article gives advice of what to do and what not to do at home shows.

51.Give Booth Workers Breaks. Standing in a booth all day is hard work. Anyone in the booth should be "on." People in your booth should be alert, outgoing, and friendly. That's hard to pull off when you’re exhausted, sick of talking with people, your voice has worn out, your feet and backache. Rotate your booth personnel. If possible, work people in two-hour shifts. After people work the booth for a couple of hours, give them a break for a couple of hours.

52.Staff Adequately. Estimate the number of prospects who will attend the show and visit your booth. Divide this by the number of show hours. Then, estimate how long you will engage each prospect at the booth. This lets you know how many prospects each booth worker can engage in an hour. Divide the prospects per hour by the number of engagements per hour to determine staffing.

Example

  • 100 Prospects
  • 8 Show Hours
  • Traffic = 100 Prospects / 8 Show Hours = 12.5 Prospects Per Hour
  • 10 Minutes Per Prospect Engagement
  • Worker Capacity = 60 Minutes Per Hour / 10 Minutes Per Prospect Engagement = 6 Prospects Per
  • Hour
  • 12.5 Prospects Per Hour Traffic / 6 Prospects Per Hour Capacity = 2.08
  • You could probably get by with two workers. However, three is a safer bet, especially since traffic is uneven.

53.Designate an Ombudsman. Exhibit at enough home shows and you will eventually encounter the irate past customer. Designate someone to deal with angry customers using service recovery procedures. Have this “ombudsman” grab the customer and leave the booth area.

Service Recovery Steps
  • Listen – Do not try to interrupt the customer. Let him get it off his chest without interrupting. Often, the customer calms down after he has had a chance to blow off a little steam.
  • Clarify – Make sure you understand the customer’s problem. Repeat it back. Say, “Let me make sure I understand the situation. What you’re telling me is…” Probe to find out what else might be wrong.
  • Empathize – Acknowledge the customer’s feelings. Say, “If I were in your shoes I might feel upset and angry too.” It is a legitimate statement that disarms the customer and calms his ire. You may not be in his shoes, but if you were, given what the customer (not you) understands and believes, you might be upset too.
  • Apologize – Apologize to the customer that the company’s performance did not meet his expectations. Sometimes, this is all the customer is looking for. And it is amazing that even when they are dead wrong and they know it, many people will refuse to admit it.
  • Reassure – Tell the customer that you will personally do everything you can to get his situation resolved to his satisfaction. Tell the customer that he will be taken care of.
  • Solve – Ask the customer what he thinks would be a fair solution. Most people are reasonable. More often than not, they will ask for less than you are willing to provide. If the customer cannot come up with a solution, offer one. Get agreement from the customer.
  • Give – Whether the customer proposes a solution or you propose a solution that he agrees will be fair, offer something extra to help make up for how he has been inconvenienced. This is why it is important to get agreement on a solution from a customer. The “something extra” does not need to be much. It can be something as small as a gift certificate with your company. The point is that it is something unexpected. It completely disarms the customer. By now, he is ready to come around from being your critic to being your apostle, spreading the gospel about how great your company is.
  • Follow Through – This is the most important step. If you do not get it right the first time, you better get it very right the second. Whoever records the customer’s problem should take personal ownership of the problem until it is resolved, giving personal attention to ensure that all promises are kept.
Use a Customer Action Report to take notes. When you have finished taking notes, write contact information at the bottom, and include a promised response date. Tear off the bottom, hand it to the customer and say, “If you don’t hear from me by this date, please call or email. We will get this resolved.”
Have a local print or copy store pad the forms, 25 per pad. Take one to every event where you have face-to face customer contact. The owner or service manager should review all open items weekly or daily.

54.Designate a Blocker. Have one person stand in the aisle outside your booth. His job is to engage people and help steer them into your booth. Make sure that someone is standing just inside the booth to take the handoff and walk the person inside.
The best-connected person in the community should be the blocker. Usually, this is the company owner, but not always. A very active member of a large church might be well suited for the role of blocker.

55.Assign Other Roles. Depending on your circumstances and staffing, you might assign
individuals to be greeters. The greeters attempt to qualify visitors to your booth and direct qualified individuals to subject area experts and/or closers. Greeters can be office staff, spouses, or temporary workers. The greeters should be naturally pleasant people and should match attendee demographics. Closers are just what name implies. They are good at asking for the order and closing the sale. On staff sales professionals make good closers.

56.Select Staff Appropriately.
The days of the infamous “booth bimbo” are over, especially if you are interested in attracting homeowners. Even trade shows for contractors are moving beyond booth bimbos as exhibitors have discovered that the signal sent is opposite of the one a professional company desires. Booth bimbos are more likely to attract unqualified visitors than qualified prospects and turn off more prospects than they attract.

57.Meet Your Neighbors. You should always meet your neighbors at a home show. Strike up a conversation. Make friends. Aside from the potential to refer people back and forth during the show, it helps pass the time during periods of slow traffic.

58.Stay to the End. Most salespeople who work shows will eventually encounter a
qualified prospect in the last half hour. Even though traffic is light and exhibitors are tearing down their booths left and right, stay to the end. Remaining show attendees are there for a reason. They are buyers.

59.Keep Your Booth Clean. It’s amazing how quickly a booth can get cluttered. Keep it neat. Keep literature neatly arranged. Dispose of trash promptly. Keep personal items out of sight.

60.Wear Your Name Badge on the Right. Most people put their name badges over their heart. For some reason, this seems to be the natural place. It’s unnatural to put it on the right, which usually means that someone who places a name badge on the right has been trained to put it there.
When the name badge is on the right, it’s easier for people you meet to read your name off the badge when you shake hands as you introduce yourself. Placing the badge on the right is a courtesy for others and a way to increase the odds someone will remember your name.

61.Appear Uniform. Everyone working the booth should wear the same color company shirt and the same color slacks or skirt. It gives you a more professional appearance and it makes it easier for consumers to find one of your employees to ask questions. Without a uniform appearance, prospects are likely to walk up to another consumer and start asking questions, making both uncomfortable. You want everyone to be comfortable.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable . For a FREE, no strings copy of his audio CD, “Staying Positive in a Negative World,” or to comment on this column, contact Matt at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com or call his mobile at 214/995.8889. For information on the Service Roundtable, call toll free 877/262.3341.