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Making Time for Everything at Clean '07

Diana Vollmer |

It’s billed as the biggest show in the United States for launderers and drycleaners. It’s where you can walk your feet off all day and party all night, just to do it again the next day. It’s where people come to play, work and sometimes spend lots of money. It’s all this and more. How can you make the most of your time and return home with few regrets?
From a business perspective, attendees come to the show for three basic reasons — to learn, to buy and to catch up with professional friends they only get to see once a year or even once every two years at the show itself. With time in short supply at the show, it pays to consider how best to use the time you’ll have to meet those objectives.
Learning about the equipment, the industry, the trends, the opportunities and more is foremost in many Clean attendees’ minds. Some people attend the educational sessions held by the trade associations. Others watch seminars on the floor and listen to sales reps in the booths. Others chat in the aisles to learn the latest industry rumors. Still others attend evening hospitality suites to continue to learn and network.
It takes all of these activities and more not just to gather data, but to distinguish the bad information from the good and formulate it into useable knowledge. Nevertheless, the opportunity to learn is one of the most worthwhile activities at the show.
Many people that might be helpful to your business will be at Clean. They are available to answer questions, show you equipment, and brainstorm solutions to the problems you may be having, giving you the chance to research new developments. This is an opportunity to build your knowledge base and prepare yourself for your future business decisions.
Buying equipment at the Clean Show is also common since the prices can be favorable, but such activity can also be fraught with danger. Have you ever come across a brand-new product, become intrigued by its touted advantages, made a purchase and taken delivery, only to have the item sit idle in a garage, gathering dust? It can be an expensive mistake that you’ll rarely admit to your peers, but it does happen, and you will want to avoid the problem in the future.
Spend as much time as possible researching your equipment needs in advance. Negotiating with vendors in advance of the show can be good for both parties, but neither of these activities will completely solve this problem. New equipment of which you may have been unaware may be introduced on the show floor. Understand your specific needs and problems, and look for solutions to them; you then will be able to resist grabbing the newest technology that doesn’t address them appropriately. Take time before you spend your hard-earned income and do your research after the show.
The two primary objectives – learning and buying – have the same issues. You must gather enough information to make wise decisions during your brief time at a busy venue. Your only hope in achieving these goals is to spend time before the show preparing a list of items and interests ahead of time. Schedule your time carefully to allow for unexpected stops along the way, but don’t forget the major issues you need to explore.
Make a list of questions you want to ask. Treat a Clean Show visit like any significant business decision. You don’t want something that collects dust in your garage; you want something that solves problems in your business.
Catching up with friends and colleagues might be a part of the learning process, too, or it might just be a chance to say “Hi” to a lot of nice people in the industry. In either case, it’s best to arrange meeting times and places before leaving your office whenever possible. Everyone else is just as busy as you, with the same things – attending seminars, walking the show floor, attending receptions and catching up with other people.
Plan your work before you plan your play, and make the most of both kinds of time.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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