BEFORE YOU GO Leaving your company may be the most difficult part of attending the Show, but you can set the stage so your absence from the office is less traumatic.
Let your crew know your plans at least a month in advance, then remind them at weekly meetings until you leave.
Make sure your business processes are in order and that everyone on your crew knows what to do when you're away.
Don't schedule the start of a job or subs to begin an intense phase of a job while you're gone.
Notify your customers about your plans for taking time for professional development.
Take whatever technological gizmos you need — cell phone, PDA, laptop — to stay in touch.
If your employees are also attending the show, meet with them to set goals before leaving home, map out who will attend which sessions, and decide how you think the show should improve your company.
THEORY INTO PRACTICE You're back and it feels like you never left. Although it's tempting to fall back in the groove of doing things the way you always have, there are steps to help you implement what you learned from the show:
Debrief on the flight home. Sort and organize your information; decide what is relevant to your company and prioritize it.
Based on your information breakdown, plan what needs to happen in your company during the next week, the next month, and in the months ahead.
Talk about it. Discuss with your employees what you saw and heard while it's clear in your mind. Spread the information to everyone in the company. If your employees came with you, have them make a presentation to the rest of the crew. This forces them to really focus on what is relevant to your company.
Schedule a series of company meetings to develop a clear plan of action for implementing what was learned from the show. Discuss the proposed changes, how to make them happen, and the timeline for doing so, plus what it will it cost to affect these changes. Then track the results.
Don't crowd your schedule the first day back. Resist that urge and take the day to process all you gathered from the show, planning how best to apply it to your company. But if you wait too long, you risk losing an enormous amount of information.
Fill out an evaluation form to let REMODELING know what was helpful at this year's show and what could be improved for next year.
Ingrid Bush, REMODELING