As the spring home show season approaches, many remodelers feel too pinched to market heavily at them in 2009. But not all. Rather than scaling back, “[we have] increased the number of shows we will go to this year,” says Glen Miracle, president of NVS Kitchen & Bath, in Manassas, Va., which grosses an average of $500,000 each year from the events. “We will have to work harder this year to maintain our share of the pie, which is getting smaller because of all the competition.”

(left to right) Scott Ewing, Glen Miracle, and Nick Bonadies
Chuck Thomas (left to right) Scott Ewing, Glen Miracle, and Nick Bonadies

Similar thinking prevails in Londonderry, N.H., where Crossroads Contracting will exhibit at six shows in 2009. Three shows yielded $750,000 in work last year, says owner Jan Jacome. She spent $750 to $900 on each, excluding the one-time expense ($7,500) of building a booth and weekends spent working the shows.

Why do home shows pay off for these remodelers, where others fail? In sum: goal-setting, booth staff, and quick follow-up with leads. Before a show, for instance, Jacome and her two salespeople review the show’s historical data and set goals for appointments and contacts to make. Follow-up is within 10 days. Miracle shoots for quantity, aiming “to tell our story to as many people as possible,” as well as quality, in screening prospects carefully before setting appointments.

The top five rules for selling at home shows are: “send the right people, tell them why they’re there, give them a goal, teach them to qualify, and teach them to behave,” says David Zimmerman, president of Southern Shows.