Remodeling/Home Show Luck from WoodWeb
For those eZine readers whose woodworking hobby is also a business, this conversation on whether participating in local home and garden shows is worth it provides an interesting perspective. It began with a query from a woodworker who was weighing whether he would participate. - Editor
"We are trying to decide whether to get a booth at the local remodeling and home shows this spring. Any thoughts? The booth is 10x10 and $800. We would build a small mockup kitchen and island with some upgrades to point out." - Jeremy
Some said yes -- but don't expect much. - Editor
"Our company has had a varying degree of sales success. My boss jumpstarted the business thanks to the home show, but after three to four years, we got very few good leads. It is always good to keep your name out there, but only trying it will confirm its usefulness for you. I might add that you should try to distinguish yourself somehow. That's tough since other great cabinet shops will be there also." - Mike
"I did it about 6 years ago. Built an entertainment center just for the show. Still have it. I got one good client out of it...whole house of cabinetry, plus extras. But a lot of tire kickers and people with NO money for custom work. Plus, it was 19 hours on my feet with no other work going on. But you have to do it to see if it works." - Bill
Some said no -- other types of shows are a better option. - Editor
"I don't do well at traditional building business trade shows. I used to. Attendance is down, and the people that still go are the ones unable to look stuff up on the web. I do well at a trade show that is also an arts festival." - Harold P.
"Architectural and industry-oriented shows can be great for a good custom shop. These shows are not open to the public, so it is only developers, architects, designers, and the like. The lower end "home and garden" type shows have always disappointed me. The vast majority of the people I spoke with are middle-class homeowners with unrefined tastes. Trying to sell them custom cabinetry is like trying to explain why a $120 bottle of wine is better than a $40 bottle. In the end they are sticker shocked. The guys who do well in those shows are the cabinet refacing, floor refinishing, vinyl siding, roofing and window replacement companies. Selling custom cabinetry at these shows can feel like you are selling diamonds at a local arts and craft show." - Michael S.
And some said yes -- but you have to do it right. - Editor
"When it comes to home shows, the one way to look at it is this: would you give someone $800 if they gave you a lead that turned into a sale? If so, it's a no-brainer ... If you are going there to hand out brochures and shake hands, it is a waste of time and money, [in my humble opinion]... but, if you are there with specific goals in mind, like qualifying prospects and scheduling appointments right there and then, you are working the show." - Kap
"We have been doing three or four home shows a year for six or seven years. We even do a few local county fairs a year. Our experience is that it takes two to three years at the same show to get results. People want to know you are here to stay and not gone tomorrow. We do not give out freebies unless the person is serious. Even then it's a simple alligator clip fridge magnet with our card or brochure in it. Our experience is also that people are drawn to pictures way more than actual display cabinets. Because of that, we now dedicate most of our both to photos of finished jobs and only a couple of cabinets that also double as our "podium" and a quality of construction aid." - Gary
Finally, this participant in the discussion provided a list of helpful hints - but did not provide his name. - Editor
"A few lessons about home and garden shows:
1. Don't just sit in your booth. At a maximum have a tall stool that you put almost in the aisle and sit on as necessary when the aisle is slow.
2. Only hand out marketing materials to people who come into your booth asking questions.
3. Don't waste your money on freebies. You'll eat up your entire marketing budget handing out freebies such as pens, bags, etc. Plus everyone is doing it.
4. Try out different sales pitches on different folks...see which one or two works. You will have to have a sales pitch for each type of personality that comes into your booth.
5. Try to limit yourself to 10 minutes per person that comes into your booth.
6. Track the literature that you do hand out.
7. Keep your booth as simple as possible. Don't overload a booth with light.
8. Don't waste your time on having displays, TVs, computer screens playing a video. No one will stop and watch your video. Plus you have that much less room to include a sales person or actual product and it's a lot more stuff you have to carry in and out of the building.
9. Learn from the big boys. Go to a few home and garden shows and find the companies that obviously have the marketing budget to attend shows. Learn how they do it and try to replicate, albeit at a lower cost." - "myself"
I Love My SawStop Contractor Saw, But...from Sawmill Creek
Woodworkers participating in this discussions shared a variety of their own solutions to a dust buildup problem on the blade height adjustment screw for the SawStop Contractor's Saw, while keeping in touch with the company, which is also working on the problem. - Editor
"I love my SawStop Contractor's saw, but the vertical lead screw for the blade height adjustment constantly jams with sawdust. Seems like every other week or s,o I'm on my back under the saw with
a machinist's pick and wire tooth brush clearing out the lead screw threads. Anyone else have this problem? It's my only irritation in an otherwise great saw." - Richard S.
In response to this question
"Have you contacted them? [In my opinion], they have the ultimate customer service, they may have a solution." - Kyle I.
The original poster replied that he had, indeed, contacted the company. - Editor
"I contacted [SawStop] customer service, and they are aware of the problem but have not come up with a solution to it. Looks like I'll have to think of something, myself. No worries on that front. I'm an engineer, so I can pretty much screw up anything by adding more features to it." - Richard S.
In the meantime, other woodworkers presented their solutions. - Editor
"I have the Industrial SawStop so I can't see your exact issue, but would the following idea work? Find an accordion plastic tube just larger than the lead screw. Remove the screw, push this on, put the screw back on. The plastic tube will expand and contract with the movement of the unit on the thread and sawdust can't make contact anymore." - Neil B.
"I have the SawStop Contractor (a bit tricked out) and have experienced the same thing. I have mastered reaching up under there every four to five weeks and sweeping out the sawdust in the small ledge before it cakes hard. I lube with the Teflon® spray to resist adherence to the threads. No big deal but a minor annoyance. I plan to enclose the bottom and enhance the dust collection. I am hopeful that this will help." - Shawn P.
"Could you mount an air nozzle directed where you need it with a short hose and a quick connect. Then once in a while hit it with a pop of air. Dunno if it will work, but if it does it beats climbing under." - Van H.
"Have same saw, but after installing above saw dust collection and modifying under the table dust collection I don't have a problem with screw." - Eduard N.
"I also think the plastic bellows would solve the problem. But instead of taking things apart to slip it over the shaft, why not slit it lengthwise so that you can just clip it over the shaft? There also are some spiral plastic 'tubes' used to contain electrical wires in panels. You would install it by just winding it around the shaft." - John T.
"I've also never experienced this problem. However, I'm in the habit of taking the table insert out, turning on the dust collector and aiming my air hose into the guts of the saw to blow out anything in there." - Mike Z.
Among those was a suggestion for the manufacturer. - Editor
"Two small wire-bristle brushes could be fitted inside the Sawstop's chassis to rake the threaded rod teeth as it enters the casting. One on top, one on bottom. That's not too over-engineered is it?" - Chip L.
And the original poster shared a bit more info on his current system. - Editor
"I brush out the threads about as often as I brush my dog's teeth. It's a nice reminder to clean the saw out when the dog has bad breath, too." - Richard S.