Choosing a new trade show display designer or vendor is a big decision and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. What you are ideally doing is establishing a relationship which will last for the long-term and be mutually beneficial for all those involved. It’s good to shop around and feel out different vendors, but once you make the final decision to go with one over the other you don’t want to have to reverse yourself and start the search all over again in a few months. That just puts more stress on you and costs your company more money.
Get The Balance Right To Choose The Best Vendor
Before we discuss what you should be looking for in a tradeshow booth display vendor, we need to talk about what the process of searching for and vetting vendors should look like.
The most important part of the search for a new tradeshow booth display vendor is the balance between taking the time and asking the right questions to make the best decision and the desire to minimize the stress and time investment that the whole process requires.
In the end, what you want to do is to systematize the whole process to make sure you don’t miss any important questions and that you make the right decision with a minimum of hassle to get back to the actual business of putting the best tradeshow booth display out there on the show floor.
Build The Process And Then Trust The Process
When you are looking for a new vendor you will want to do three things in order to make the right decision about which company to go with.
1. Check reviews, analyze reputation and consider references
A lot of you will want to make a decision based on your ‘gut’ and the representatives you meet from a particular company. While this type of decision-making has a place, it is important also to take into account online reviews, references and the general reputation of a particular company to make sure you don’t base your decision on a small sample size of individuals who may (or may not) be representative of the company as a whole.
2. Make a questionnaire and weight the importance of each question.
Once you narrow down your choice of companies to a smaller selection of vendors you want to contact, you should prepare a questionnaire to ask the representatives of each company so that you can see how well their company and their services fit your needs. If you need custom fabrication and a company specializes in versatile trade show display rentals, then that company is not the best option.
This questionnaire should be relatively short and painless (less than 10 questions ideally). You will want to include the most important items for making your decision and then go back and grade each answer from each company. Just assign 1-3 points to each answer depending on how well you liked the response and the information that you received. Then you can tally up the overall score for each potential vendor and weigh that in your final determination of which one to go with.
3. Look at previous work for other clients and use an RFP to get more tailored responses.
When you are initially narrowing the field of tradeshow booth display vendors, you will want to look at their portfolios. What type of work do they usually do? Do they specialize in one type of design or exhibit over another? Do they offer advice and guidance in other areas such as trade show display rentals? Whose work jumps out at you the most and moves you?
Once you have a few companies (ideally less than five) in the running, you will want to create an RFP (request for proposal) in order to encourage those companies to provide a sample of what kind of services they can provide for you. We’ve discussed RFPs in previous posts and we won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say that this is an important part of the process because it asks the vendors to show you their best work and cater directly to your needs, whether it be trade show fabrication or design, logistics or trade show display rentals.
Use Your ‘Gut’ To Break Any Ties
We know that a lot of you really prize your ability to make accurate ‘gut’ decisions, so we don’t want to leave this important (but inherently difficult to explain) phenomenon out of the process altogether. While we think it’s important to go with a more systematic approach (especially because this lets you easily explain the process to others), the gut can be used to break any ties and make a final determination. That way you get the best of both worlds.