Cabin fever has rarely been more intense for consumers. A year of pandemic quarantining combined with the savage winter weather, and those walls are closing in on all of us. Trade shows, a traditional early herald of springtime, may bring welcome relief. While some shows have been canceled, others are occurring while following strict safety protocols. Others are being held in a virtual format.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) has advice as you plan your outing to any upcoming trade show, or as you gear up to attend an online version.
Preparing for your visit can help you to be efficient with your time, and can give the business representatives the information needed for accurate estimates. Some tips:
- Research contractors and businesses that you anticipate visiting. When a map of the show’s vendors is available, use it to locate those businesses more quickly. Do whatever online searching you can to check them out, especially on BBB.org, where you’ll find business profiles, reviews and accounts from customers of their experiences. You’ll find retailers and contractors at the show that you didn’t anticipate, so remember to look them up afterwards as well.
- Know your budget. Resolve to stick within an amount you can afford. Know that you’ll encounter unexpected innovations and attractive features you had not expected, at unanticipated expense. Sure, you knew you wanted a bathroom remodel, but did you expect to encounter a “smart shower gel dispenser” with wi-fi connectivity? Willpower is the name of the game if you want to avoid financial hardship down the road.
- Come prepared with notes and cellphone photos of relevant spaces and measurements.
During the show
Once inside or in the virtual space, some reminders:
- Resist the hard sell. Try to stick to your plan.
- Save all paperwork and receipts, emails and texts received later.
- Use comparative shopping. Be sure you give exactly the same information to competing businesses, so the estimates are more meaningful and easily compared. Tell them what you expect.
- Get info about warranties, guarantees and returns.
- Ask about license and insurance details.
- Look for scheduled workshops. Seminars and workshops on subjects related to your projects can be helpful. Industry experts can give tips and ideas you had not considered and that can save you money.
- Do not pay in full in advance for a service. One third of the total up front is standard.
- Get it in writing. Everything.
- Be careful sharing your personal information. Signing up for drawings and contests can lead to sales calls, email offers and snail mail advertisements later.