|Mdoel Pro Enters The Show Scene|
Simon Willey, proprietor of the new all electric modelling company, Model-Pro, chose the 2007 Wings & Wheels Models Show to make his debut on the Trade Show scene. So with the offer of help from Terry Sullivan greatly received, they headed off to North Weald (north east of London) to sample life behind the counter at a big show! Here's Terry's report.
Life Behind the Counter
The usual show report comments on the excellence of the flying displays, the number of people, the variety and quality of the stalls and things like this. But at North Weald airfield on June 23rd/24th, I had an opportunity to see a model show from a different point of view, that of someone working on a stall.
Flying display – what flying display? When you have a table full of LiPo’s, chargers and such, models to protect from curious juvenile fingers and kits to protect from light ones, you do not see the flying display. The number of people is measured in whether you can draw a breath between serving customers, and the variety and quality of stalls is something you may get to see if you have the energy during a lull in trading, such as when torrential rain has forced the customers to seek shelter in the beer tent or elsewhere, all too often they seek shelter in your stall! You may get lucky and sell something.
How many of you have thought about the floor surface at a model show? When you are on your feet all day, sharp stones the size of ping-pong balls are less then ideal. They invariably hurt when you step on one, they make irresistible playthings for those juvenile fingers and kids throwing them in the vicinity of some very expensive display models drives you scatty!
What do you eat and drink? A camping cooker has to be packed away during business hours, so hot food or drink has to be bought from the vendors during the day, at night you have little strength to cook, so a burger or hot dog suffices, and whilst a decent breakfast can be made, there is not a lot of room or time to enjoy it.
Sleeping – now that is something you do well, but not enough of! I was very comfortable in the back of my car, which was filled with cushions. But the remainder of my party were sleeping in the stall tent, which meant shifting a large amount of goods, moving the custom made counter, making up camp beds and clearing them away again next morning, and then you have room to get the cooker out before re-stocking the stand!
Rain is a real problem, and when it is lots of showers, you have to make decisions as to when to cover up the outside display – too soon and you lose trade, too late and your goods are water-damaged.
So, what are the plus sides? Well, for a start you do a lot of trading, we took several thousand pounds. Secondly, your company name gets known. With a new business, this is absolutely crucial. Each satisfied customer is a potential repeat customer, and these are the bread and butter of the model shop today. There are so many shops on the web that a customer who buys mainly from you is gold dust! It is important here to have faith in what you are selling. My late father, who was a sales executive for a multi-national company, and knew a thing or two about selling, always said that it is easier to sell a product you know is good. In this I was very fortunate, because the majority of items I had to sell were ones that I had used in som eformor another, and have had complete satisfaction with them. I was able to say to customers looking at an array of LiPo’s, none of which were a well known brand name, that I would not hesitate to use them in my own models, and in many cases had done so. They may not buy now, but may do so later when the other brand they have bought elsewhere lets them down!
Another plus was meeting so many people. My “boss” I have known a while on the net, but had never met before - by Sunday evening I felt I had known him for years!
The same applies to the others working there, neither of whom I had met before in any way at all! I also saw some old acquaintances, and met many new people.
I was able to talk to quite a few, allay their fears about LiPo’s, tell them about brushless motors, joke with them and share a laugh. I learnt a lot about reading people, some you can tell instantly whether they were seriously interested in buying, others were harder to read, but by Sunday I had a pretty fair idea of who to spend my time with and who not to.
I also had a superb view from my “bedroom” window. Directly opposite our stand was a DC-3 in invasion stripes. For anyone who loves planes, this is a nice view!
The weekend was as hard work as I have ever done. I started about 8.00 am Friday and stopped 10.00pm Sunday, and still have not put my car back as it was! I drove 300 miles, much of it in teeming rain. And I loved it!