Andy Pearce, Co-Director of exhibition contractor Exhibit 3Sixty, discusses how event suppliers can build trust and relationships to win and retain clients.
With supply chain delays still prevalent due to the lasting impact of the pandemic and international events, event suppliers are facing more challenges than ever when it comes to ensuring they can meet demand and retain clients. A major part of guaranteeing repeat patronage is ensuring your business has a stellar reputation. Naturally, providing good quality work is a key part of this, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring clients think favourably of your business.
In an era of rising costs and limited availability, transparency with clients is essential for any business. As Andy Pearce, Co-Director of exhibition contractor Exhibit 3Sixty, explains: “Be completely open and transparent about costs and margins, which is essential to build trust and retain clients in a time when problems can crop up at last minute. Suppliers should be open and honest about their own costs and profit margins, and never promise more than can be delivered. Better to say no outright than overpromise and fail to follow through.”
“Be completely open and transparent about costs and margins, which is essential to build trust and retain clients in a time when problems can crop up at last minute.”
Of course, these standards are not always easy to adhere to: “These are easy commitments to make but turning them into reality can be difficult and sometimes hard to justify. It means taking planning to a whole new level to deliver on service guarantees.
It means carefully tracking the prices of materials and supplies in order to hedge against price increases and ensure future availability, and it means breaking down every project’s price for customers and being transparent about margins and costs.”
Event suppliers need only put themselves in their clients’ shoes to see why this approach is most successful at creating repeat customers:
“You and everyone you know is a customer of some kind,” says Andy. “And we all know how it feels to get poor customer service. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
Making deals in-person is also key to building a good relationship with clients and ensuring repeated business. In-person dealings create a personal connection that is often lacking when meeting over Zoom or making phone calls: “Our whole industry is predicated on the belief that being there in-person – to make eye contact, shake hands, and engage personally on the exhibition floor – works like no other media channel. The same thing is true with customer service: if you forge a relationship in-person, it will take you a lot further than online ordering ever will.”
It may be tempting to try to cut costs and lower prices in order to draw more business, but good quality work will always be more compelling than a lower price: “In an industry that has seen races to the bottom before, it strikes me that businesses that are striving to go in the opposite direction are the ones that are thriving now.”