We survived it: three months of preparations and last-minute panics all seem to have paid off.
(Didn't forget one thing, how about that! If anything we came over-prepared, you can blame me for that).
On Wednesday afternoon we emptied over half our showroom, loaded the van and set off to Detling (20 minutes drive). The organisation for the build-up day was excellent, every exhibitor had an arrival slot and handy little hand transport cars - including 'driver' - were plenty available. 10 minutes after arriving on site all our materials were inside and 20 minutes later we had everything set up.
Thursday morning our 'assistant' of the day (one of our main suppliers) arrived 10 minutes before us and displayed our new range to complete our stand. (Let me tell you: a 6 meter wide stand isn't really that wide after all once everything is displayed, but we managed anyway.) All in all we had 45 different types of natural wooden flooring on show.
The Kent 2020 vision exhibition is getting bigger and bigger every year and is always well organised: key-note speakers, interesting workshops and a huge array of businesses in the Exhibition marques (over 300 stands, companies ranging from IT, marketing, printers to holidays, insurance and construction), ensuring that over 4,000 business people from all over Kent have a lot to do, to see, to network and to market their own business.
From 8am on the three of us (Geoff, our 'assistant', Ton - my partner in crime - and I) were handing out our new booklet, explaining the various ranges, collecting business cards, writing down specific details of those wanting extra specific information (we can send that by email sir/madam, it will be in your inbox tomorrow afternoon at the latest). We met Architects, Developers, Designers, companies looking for new floor-covering for their commercial premises and lots of business persons asking if we also did domestic projects (talk about win-win-win situation for us).
And we had fun! Who wouldn't if you receive compliments on your wide range of flooring, about your booklet and on the way you take time to explain various expects of installation methods.
Friday I counted 33 definite leads - ranging from architects to commercial projects and many domestic enquiries. This morning 33 follow-up letters (including our Kent2020 special offer) went to the post-office. I hadn't realised that the follow-up work would take up so much of my time, learned something new again.
The best thing of the whole experience is that we met a lot of interesting people, that we can look back (even with some pride) to a very, very busy day and that - at the moment - all three of us feel it has been a successful first large B-2-B Exhibition for Wood You Like.
(side-note: the only item not well organised this year at the exhibition was the coffee! Only two coffee-corners for over 4,000 visitors. Queues were massive, all day long. I live on coffee! Three stands down from us was another company promoting their own coffee and other drinks vending machines. I made 'close friends' with them very quickly and must have donated over 2 pounds to the charity of their choice - 10p per drink was kindly asked for and donated. Personally I think they did more business than the company 'sponsoring' the free coffee and tea corners.)