Blog for Building Materials Companies

Has the Builder’s Show Reached a Tipping Point?

  |  Posted in Builders, Trade Shows

Has the Builder’s Show Reached a Tipping Point?

Like many of you, I am preparing for my trip to the builder’s show this week. As part of my preparations, I spoke with a few builders to find out what they are looking for at the show. When it’s over, I’ll contact them again to see if it met their expectations and if they learned about something new that interests them.

Two of the discussions I had really surprised me.

Scaling Back

The first surprise came from a builder who builds over 500 homes a year and normally sends eight to ten people to the show. This year, they’re only sending one person to IBS.

My first thought was that business must be so good and they must be so busy that they felt skipping the show would be a better use of their time. I was wrong.

They decided to scale back on IBS based for two reasons.

1. They Don’t Learn Anything New

The classes and educational events are too basic for them. They don’t need 101-level classes; they need graduate-level courses.

There are a lot of great classes for smaller or newer builders but there isn’t much for larger or more experienced ones. The builder I spoke with already makes great use of social media but they want to do even better with it. They won’t find that kind of advanced class at IBS.

To keep learning and improving, they go to different events that offer more focused and in-depth education. Some of them are sponsored by the NAHB but they’re not part of IBS.

2. They Don’t See Anything New

The Consumer Electronics Show is a must-attend event for that industry as it is full of new products and innovations, you can’t afford not to attend. If you don’t attend IBS you won’t really miss that much as there isn’t that much that is really new or innovational.

For every company that is introducing a real new product there are nine others that have nothing new to offer other than a tweak like a new color.

When a builder is big enough, they don’t have to go check out the new products – manufacturers will bring new products to them.

Going Overseas

When I asked why, I thought I was talking to Gerry McCaughey from Entekra. He told me that he is focused on building better quality homes and that he believes the best way to achieve this is with offsite construction. He will be satisfied if he can deliver a higher quality product at a comparable price. If he can get it built faster, that will be an added benefit.

My second surprise was when a custom builder told me that he now goes to shows in Europe like BAU instead of IBS.

In his opinion, the Europeans are way ahead of the US when it comes to offsite construction technology, so he goes to shows overseas to meet with the experts. He sees IBS as a bunch of individual products or components, while he’s focused on the process.

As more builders become interested in the process of offsite construction more than the individual components of a house, what does IBS offer them?

Has IBS Reached a Tipping Point?

I have no reason to believe that IBS won’t be a big, successful and well-attended event this year. But trade shows are a very expensive and inefficient way of reaching customers.

If you’re going to invest this much money for two and a half days, you owe it to yourself to look at it from all sides. Who is really attending IBS? Are they the customers you want? What can you do to ensure a good return on your investment?

A bunch of leads that never become customers or expensive customer entertainment does not make for a good return on your investment.

IBS might be at a tipping point. In the past, the success of IBS was defined by the number of exhibitors and attendees that was largely determined by the state of the economy.

Builders and exhibitors are getting more sophisticated and realizing that bigger is not always better. They are both asking, what role should IBS play in my business? How important is it? How much of my time and money does it warrant?

Like many of you, I will be attending IBS this year but I wonder if I will attend next year. Like you I can’t attend every show. Are there better shows for me to attend? And I really am not looking forward to going back to that mess of a facility in Orlando:)

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