Overcoming trade show stigma

Published in the February 2017 issue of Fleet Affiliation

With The Work Truck Show® 2017 and Green Truck Summit just around the corner, now is a timely opportunity to discuss how to get past the stigma of trade shows. Many fleet professionals see the value of spending time away from the office for hands-on experience with the latest truck equipment and technology, and the opportunity to communicate directly with the right manufacturers and vendors. However, some upper management only see the surface of trade shows and do not understand what they fully offer. They might view them as platforms of wasted time and lost productivity. In their defense, there may be people who don’t take full advantage of resources available at these trade shows, or who haven’t taken the time to report the value of time spent away from the office.

Over time, this column has shared why it’s important to advocate for attending trade shows: they can be a resource that supports your operation. Fleet professionals who have achieved this are one step closer to overcoming the idea that trade shows represent lost productivity.

Convincing the boss
With shrinking budgets, many times upper management will look to reduce discretionary budget items that will have the least impact on operations. Often, education and training are viewed as low-hanging fruit for instant savings. Although this may seem like a successful savings tactic that could be employed for the short-term, continued deferment will put organizations further behind as technology and the regulatory environment continue to expand.

Convincing the boss can be a large hurdle to overcome. In order to sell them on the benefits of trade show participation, fleet professionals need to create a plan.

  1. Identify the shows that are most valuable to you and your organization. Picking the right shows will give you the most benefit. Although there are dozens of industry shows throughout the year, choosing the right ones is critical. Find ones that directly relate to your industry. These shows can be very niche or cover a broad spectrum of fleet-related activities. Doing a little research beforehand will result in the most value for your time spent away from the office.
  2. Create a list of unresolved issues and communicate a plan to resolve these issues. Use trade show attendance as a resource.
  3. Identify ongoing operational issues that require solutions. Often a vast number of professionals are exhibiting at trade shows and can help you find solutions.
  4. Follow up with a post-show report. This crucial step cannot be stressed enough. Although you may feel you are in a better position after attending an event, make sure to communicate the value to upper management to help them see the gain. Be sure to provide a detailed summary of the knowledge you gained. Most importantly, communicate the direct benefits your organization has realized by your attendance. Timely feedback can help de-stigmatize trade shows and the belief that they lead to lost productivity.

Upcoming opportunities
With educational programming to begin March 14 (trade show open March 15-17), The Work Truck Show 2017 will once again feature more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space and 500+ vendors with staff on hand to network with you and help you solve your problems. In addition to the expo floor, the event offers fleet-related educational sessions covering a wide range of topics. The event is held at the Indiana Convention Center.

The Work Truck Show is the place to see the latest vocational trucks and equipment, talk one-on-one with product engineers, get the latest developments from leading work truck OEMs, and explore fuel-saving technologies and alternative fuels.

There are several additional opportunities available at the Show:

NAFA – CAFM TEST DRIVE: NAFA will be offering a "test drive" of the CAFM® program at no cost (subject to eligibility)! Attend and you can have a first-hand look at what CAFM® certification offers you. If you sign up, you will be eligible to take the Asset Management exam, and if you pass, you will have one year to enroll in the CAFM®/S program and have your passing grade of the Asset Management module count towards your professional designation!  The class will take place on March 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registrants can take the Asset Management Exam on March 15 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Register here. The last day to sign up for the CAFM “test drive” is March 6.

NACFE, The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), is hosting a fuel efficiency workshop for line and regional haul fleets on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, from 1–5 p.m. in Rooms 237–238. For vocational fleets, many of the solutions are transferable to work trucks with an adjustment in return on investment calculations for annual mileage and average vehicle speed. This workshop offers information on how tire pressure systems, lightweighting, powertrain selection and other factors impact a fleet’s fuel expenses, even for future areas like platooning. Register now (use promo code WTS to register for this workshop for free). PLEASE NOTE: this promo code does NOT provide free access to The Work Truck Show 2017.

100 Best Fleets
Tom Johnson, author and creator of the 100 Best Fleet in North America, will be hosting a tour of the exhibit floor on Friday, March 17. During the tour, emerging technologies will be analyzed for applicability to fleet operation. This opportunity allows fleet managers to compare notes to find out what’s working. For more information, please contact Tom Johnson at tom@the100best.net