PART TWO – For Vendors.
One of our favorite activities since starting Bath, Body, Candle Moments is attending holiday fairs and vendor shows. It’s our opportunity to engage with customers, do informal tests of the appeal of our products, and to generally socialize with people of the community. Throughout our experience at shows, we’ve learned a few tips and encountered a few breaches of etiquette that will help you, as either a vendor, an organizer, or an attendee, gain the most value from your time.
Vendor Tips and Etiquette
- Plan far in advance. Organizers may not have all of their information together right away, but you should contact any potential venues very far in advance and plan your calendar as such. If they’re not ready, just ask to be placed on a list-serv and follow-up in a timely fashion.
- If this is a new event, ask questions to determine if it’s worth your time. Whether it’s new to you, or a new event in general, ask how it’s going to be advertised, how many people are expected to attend, and how you will be able to reach the organizer. You’re there to make money, and time is the most valuable of all assets, so be sure you ask the right questions to see if you should commit.
- Balance the cost of the event against what your potential sales will be. Some events are very expensive to buy a table or space, make sure you have the potential to at least double your investment.
- Get the exact specifications. Are you renting a space, if so, how much space? Is it outside? Will the event offer you a table/chair/etc.?
- If you’re doing outside events, invest in a quality tent and tent weights. I can’t emphasize this point enough! I’ve seen vendors literally chasing after their tents as they fly away, and I’ve seen tents collapse and ruin products. Make this initial investment!
- Make your space attractive. Be creative, but clear with your design. Make it appealing and easy for customers to navigate. Keep it clean; don’t eat on top of your products, and have somewhere to store trash.
- Have shopping bags for purchases.
- Offer receipts; even if they’re handwritten, offering a receipt shows you’re serious about your business.
- Bring lots of change! Think about how you charge for your products and be sure you have matching change. I suggest about $150 in small bills. Most people will come with 20s, so be mindful of that.
- Make sure your space isn’t blocking other vendors. You want to be a good neighbor.
- Along with being a good neighbor means introducing yourself to other vendors and the event organizer. Making friends with neighboring vendors and the event organizer acts as a great networking tool for later.
- If possible, always have at least two people at your event. This is ideal, for practical reasons such as a restroom break, but also if you find yourself in a “rush,” the more hands, the better.
- Treat every customer kindly and with respect. Don’t just assume anything about people. Be sure to greet people as they walk by. Get up often to appear approachable.
- Appearance matters. Dress for success. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit or gown, but be clean, neat, and pressed, even if it’s wearing your company’s t-shirt. This also means having some breath-mints available; no one wants to know about your breakfast from your breath. If you smoke, and the event is outside, smoke away from the event, and have some spray for yourself.
- Have clear signage. Let customers be informed about what you’re offering and the prices. Make specials clear and obvious.
- Offer your business card or business literature to everyone, but especially to people who aren’t making a purchase. You never know who may be a future customer, and it demonstrates your value of the person over the sale.
- Have a place to collect email addresses, and send a follow-up email the next day or that evening. Thank customers for their visit to the fair and for the opportunity to meet them. *You should also promptly thank the event organizer.
- If your products are delicate by nature, be sure to wrap them for your customers. You don’t want someone going home to find a broken item.
- Wait until the end of the event to break down. This shows respect to the organizers and last-minute customers. We’ve all had slow events, but your job there is not just selling your product, you’re selling your brand.
- Advertise the event on all of your platforms. The event organizer should take main responsibility for this, but the more eyes and ears who know about it, the better for everyone.
- Move your car out of the customer lot. This is so important. One event we attended, none of the other vendors moved their cars, and guess what happened – people left because they had no where to park!
- Keep track of your inventory. This can show you what is working and what isn’t.
- If possible, offer the option for customers to use credit cards.
- If you do not want certain items touched, be sure to offer samples.
- Offer incentives for your customers to return to you in the future. That can simply be offering a unique discount code for their next purchase.
Do you have any other suggestions? Please feel free to comment below!