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Last Issue's Dilemma:
How can I change exhibit vendors without getting "burned"?
We've started a search for a new exhibit house, and I really need the switch from our existing supplier to be seamless. What can I anticipate? Is there a "right" time to switch? Any issues I should be aware of?
-- Rick, Corporate Events Manager
Breaking up is hard to do
Rick, most of us find it hard to end a relationship, whether it's a personal or professional one. But once the relationship has degenerated to an irreparable state, we have no choice but to say good-bye. How do you do this with a vendor? The same way you did with a girlfriend who turned out not to be the right one -- by being honest and letting the other party down gently.
Our readers also suggest
- Be prepared
- Consider the timing
- Don't repeat past mistakes
Challenges ... Solutions
The Challenge: GE Healthcare needed to create a technologically advanced forum for GE executives around the world for strategic analysis and planning meetings along with collaborative technology to manage constantly evolving materials.
The Solution: An easy-to-use EventNet
See how GE Healthcare stayed well.
Since you've been working with your current exhibit house for awhile, don't expect a simple adios to suffice. The vendor will be losing your business, and its representative is bound to ask why you're leaving. Be a good Boy Scout, and be prepared.
Terrie Holahan, tradeshow/event planner at AtriCure, Inc., details how to get ready for the breakup.
"Don't blindside your current exhibit house with the change. Of course, the vendor will clamor to keep your business and demand to know why the change, so be ready with your responses. Have specific reasons, based on facts. Highlight specific issues that have
and have not been addressed. For example, if your exhibit house has made commitments to improve services in the past and hasn't met the mark, say so."
Consider the timing
Once you've decided to cut the cord with your exhibit house, the next thing to
do is determine the best time to do it. This can be a crucial point, as an event manager explains:
"After going through this twice now, I'd recommend selecting a slow time in your event program (if there is one) to fire your vendor. The
fewer moving parts, the better. Plus, if you handle this the right way, you may be able to save some costs by having your current vendor ship your display from a show to the new exhibit house, instead of having it sent back to you."
Don't repeat past mistakes
You wouldn't be looking for a new exhibit house unless something
went wrong with your relationship with your present vendor. To keep from having to jump from vendor to vendor, get the details straight before you commit to another relationship.
Terrie Holahan provides pointers on how to make sure you and your new partner are on the same page from the very beginning.
"When you write your request for proposal [RFP], list your 'must haves,' 'nice to haves,'
'must avoids' and prior issues. The best time to switch may be after the bulk of your tradeshow season. That way, you'll have the summaries of your shows to provide
to the new vendor, and what needs to be improved will be fresh in your mind."
Rick, no one should stay in a bad relationship, especially a bad business relationship that costs your company money. Choose your words and your timing carefully when terminating your exhibit house. Then, make sure you get your relationship with your next vendor off on the right foot. With any luck, it'll be many years to come before you face this kind of dilemma again.