Every line of business out there has them. The liars, the cheats, the dishonest business person. You hope you do not run into them much. That is one of the reasons that we believe so much in partnerships and why we value the great partnerships we have.
Seriously I can't say it enough. If you have great partners, do not lose them. Value and take care of the relationships.
Last year we lost a client that stored their booth here at our facility. The client never had the decency to call us and tell us. They simply had another display house email us saying they wanted us to ship them all of the client's booth materials. The client had a new VP that had a relationship with another display house. That happens to everyone regardless of how well you care for and service your clients.
We reached out to the client multiple times, not to try to save the business but to make sure that it was ok to ship their materials to another display house. The client would not return our calls. Eventually we connected with the client. We packaged up all their materials and shipped them out. We did not charge them for even close to the time that it took us to package it all up.
So why do I tell you this?
A few months after that, the tables were turned. We had a client acquire another company. That company had a booth that was built by a custom house out of Atlanta. The parent company wanted to move those materials over to use to store and manage their show schedule. Our client had a very different experience. The client reached out to the custom exhibit house to find out what materials were there and how to get the materials shipped to our location.
What transpired leaves me shaking my head and wondering how this company possibly has any clients.
The exhibit house treated us and the client with nothing but disdain and contempt. We reached out to them as the client had a show coming up. Even though the client asked us to get the booth ready for the show the exhibit house would not answer any questions about the booth property that they were storing. They held the booth hostage and tried to throw us under the bus with our client. They acted desperate and childish. They continually tried to undermine our efforts. Here are some excerpts of some of the emails they sent us and the client.
"I told you I am on VACATION, I will deal with this when I get back."
"I have been in the industry for over 30 years...."
We were trying to get a list with weights and sizes so that we could coordinate shipping of the materials. They would not provide that. They told us,
"Just schedule a full 53' air ride trailer."
Now anyone that has been in the exhibit industry for 30 years knows you don't just schedule a full trailer without dimensions and weights of things being shipped. Here was our response to him.
Mr 'I've Been In The Industry For Over 30 Years':
I appreciate your response yesterday advising us to schedule a 53’ air ride trailer for the 'Client' materials however our logistics partner is in need of greater detail. We respectfully request again on behalf of the client, the # of pieces, the types of pieces i.e. crates, pallets, tubs, the dimensions of such and their estimated weights.
We cannot just send in a 53’ trailer without more detail. It also would be excessive in equipment and money if we were to bring in a 53’ trailer when a straight dock truck would be sufficient. This freight will not be first shipping to our Minneapolis warehouse but rather to our warehouse in Atlanta for prep prior to 'Show Name'
I hope you can understand my position. I have to be mindful of my money and expenses as well as the client’s.
After trying to convince the client that they were better than Total Displays, trying to find our client's boss to go over her head, and stalling for as long as possible, they finally agreed to ship us the product. They charged the client over $3,000 to pull it all and ship it and never did provide us with a list of what they were shipping. We did get the dimensions and weights. Here is the internal email the owner sent to his warehouse manager. He forgot and copied our client on the message. Whoops.
To: 'Warehouse Manager'
Why would you spend all the time to do a detailed list. Not needed. Ship it.
You seen how much we got for this move out. This is not a product that needs all the attention. Your done ship it
'Mr I Have Been In The Industry For Over 30 Years'
All the exhibit materials eventually arrived. The crates were a disaster, they were poorly packed, pallets of junk were sent to us. Broken things, non-working things. It was a mess.
The exhibit house had a booth right across the aisle from our installation. Our clients booth was truly custom and complete over kill (more on that in another post later). We know nothing about the booth or how it sets up. As our crew was trying to figure it out, the crew from the exhibit house setting up the booth across the aisle. What do you suppose they did? Sit and laugh at our crew.
This is the epitome of a poor loser and why would you want to do business with a company like this?
Here are our suggestions to you in case you have an exhibit partner that may have this type of behavior lurking under the surface.
Make sure you have current photos of any booth.
Make sure you have current set up instructions for your booth.
Make sure you have graphic templates so you can replace graphics when needed.
You should not have to protect yourself from your exhibit partner. But we learned the hard way that not everyone is a gracious loser and not every exhibit house is a great partner.
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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.