Working with a Middleman
What does the term “full resource exhibit house” or “one stop exhibit shop” really mean? It seems virtually every exhibit company uses one of those terms. However, when comparing sales orders or even sales estimates which line items are actually built, or services supplied “in‐house?” With the popularity of Amazon an entire new world has opened for companies that sell on the internet. These are middlemen/women or distributors that do not manufacture or even warehouse products. Rather they take an order and have it fulfilled and possibly even shipped from another company. That is how 90% of exhibit companies exist.
How Middlemen Work
They design an exhibit, in most cases by an offsite designer, and compile pricing to create a sales order that in most cases is an estimate with a post-show bill to follow. Among the many parts of an exhibit that can be outsourced: Design – Engineering/Detailing ‐ Rental Exhibits – Wood Fabrication ‐ Metal Fabrication – Painting ‐ Rental Furniture – Custom Props ‐ Audio/Visual Equipment – Games ‐ Carpet – Graphic Printing – Fabric Printing including frames, walls, and hanging signs – Shipping – Installation and Dismantle Labor With every instance noted there is a price from the vendor to which the middleman/woman adds a fee or percentage. That is how he makes his money. To be fair there is nothing wrong with his service or rendering a fee for that service.
Losing Control to the Builder
In most cases a middleman/woman does not tell prospective clients about any if not all of this. He moves along in his one‐stop shop world and misrepresents how an exhibit is really getting built and installed. Go to his website and then ask if the exhibit pictures are really of exhibits, he built or had built? Why is any of this important? The middleman/woman has no control over the costs of manufacturing, hours of design time, printing charges, or anything else on that list. Even if he/she controls everything on that list except the I&D that can completely setback a budget. Many middlemen/women are incredible negotiators and have many years’ experience in partnership with credible exhibit houses. Just be certain that is who you will be working with and that your final sales order/sales invoice is not an estimate. Estimates are opportunities to spend other people’s money and to not give an accurate picture of actual trade show expenses.