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The "Trade Show Gaze"

We’re live again! It was so great to be at a live event after 18 months of trade show cancellations and virtual presentations!


IECSC Las Vegas was much bigger than anticipated. I think we are all hungry to get out of our basements, wake up from hibernation, and go someplace. Las Vegas restaurants, the strip, and my flights were packed!


One thing that never seems to change… that “trade show gaze”. You know which one I’m talking about. When attendees walk up and down the aisles of the exhibition hall filling their bags and carts with product and supplies that they have purchased because of the nefarious “show specials”. In these days of COVID, samples are a no-no. You can see them struggling as their bags become heavier and heavier.


And then, they arrive at the booth with the consultant. This one handing out pencils, notebooks, and offers of a free consultation and business plan review. They look at the booth for the shiny sparkling thing, read the signage, approach the table of swag and then, our eyes meet. Du-du-du-dummm. Their glance turns to terror and moves quickly in the opposite directions faster than thought was humanly possible. It is almost as though they know that they should have asked dad’s permission before taking the car. Inherently, they know they can ask me questions about their profitability, business, or business plan, but they just can’t bring themselves to do it. There it is the infamous and recognizable “trade show gaze”.


After attending shows for many years, I should be used to this. Maybe I am jaded, but I feel that before you put one thing in your bag, you should know what they cost, what you intend to sell them for and what level of sales you expect to generate once you bring them into your business. You should know how your business is doing, how profitable you are, and what changes you want to make before you spend a single dime. You should also know where you are in your business plan (if you have one). The net result of this, is that you will be making informed (not impulsive) business and financial decisions. Is this a novel concept? If you cannot answer these questions, the scary consultant is the first place you should stop. We are not here to squash your dreams or ambition. We want you to build, grow, and manage your businesses so that it is fun, profitable, and under control.


But alas, the trade show gazes far outnumbered the business conversations I had with owner/operators 50 to 1. This was not the case in my two socially distanced classes which were relatively full. I had almost 90 people in my "Good Numbers = Good Decisions" class. There were about 70 in my “When Worlds Collide: The Future Fusion of Preventive Healthcare, Medical Spa, Wellness & Lifestyle Services” class. I guess shorter titles equals better attendance. None-the-less, my classrooms netted about 160 freshly informed spa operators what were clearly not afraid to ask questions of the big-bad consultant. Thanks to all who attended. It was fantastic being in front of a live (non-remote) audience again.


As we get our businesses back up to speed, we need to be vigilant in managing our profitability. The cost of providing our services is higher now than it was pre-COVID. Even though we are experiencing high sales volumes, now is the time to manage smart and assertively. Make sure you are in control of our costs and cash. It is important that we manage our businesses the same during good times and bad. We’re finding that we are busier now and not quite making as much money. Finding staff is an issue. Regaining the trust of our guests is of paramount importance. Let’s be smart and informed business owners making good business decisions.


I will be teaching two classes at IECSC in Chicago in September. Hopefully, I will see many of you there. And, when you see me at the Spa Industry Association Booth, laden with your heavy bag or newly purchased goodies, stop by and let’s talk so I cannot accuse you of the dreaded "trade show gaze".


Remember, the first call is always free. I’m happy to have an initial consultation with you to learn about your business and how you are managing in today’s market.


Happy Summer and stay cool to you all!


Monte Zwang