Making Time for the 2020 Convention

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Are you scheduling time away from your business to participate in this month’s Virtual Convention?

With the show less than two weeks away, it’s time you seriously examine your schedules and block out exclusive time to actively partake in this event. To get the maximum benefit from the Convention, we strongly encourage all attendees to step away from their businesses temporarily, just as they would for an on-site show, and set up shop in a quiet place with good Internet access and that’s free of distractions.

See: How to Prep Your Space and Computer for Virtual Convention 2020

Texas Appliance’s Steven Owen: Will retreat to his home office during the show.

To learn how — and where — members will be attending the show, YSN spoke with several dealers whose plans range from home offices to rented hotel space. Among the former is Steven Owen, General Manager and Vice President of Texas Appliance in Arlington, Texas. Owen said his routine already includes unplugging twice a year for BrandSource events, and this year is no different.

“We still have to step away in order to totally focus on the bigger picture,” he said, knowing that if he doesn’t retreat to his home office, he’ll be distracted by phone calls, emails and “the conga line of people” parading in with questions. The only way to escape the distractions and truly absorb the value of the Convention, he said, is to block off time outside the store.

“These events are the best place to find answers to help our business evolve,” he said. “We always look forward to the speeches, the vendors and the interaction with other members. This year will be unique, and we are looking forward to it.”

Jones Appliance’s David Jones: Will not be in the store at all during the Convention.

While David Jones is disappointed there won’t be an on-site Convention this year, he is excited by the prospect of a virtual show. The owner of Jones Appliance & TV in Iowa Falls, Iowa, has already informed his staff that he will not be in the store whatsoever during the Convention, as he will be hunkered down at home taking it all in without distractions.

“I firmly believe that if anyone really wants this show to work for them, they need to attend it away from work,” he said. To that end, he set his schedule up the same as if he were attending in person and has blocked off the entire two-and-a-half days. “I told my staff that if they need something, they can text me and I will respond during the breaks.”

Friedmans’ Matthew Leachman: Considers hotel costs an investment in the business.

Friedmans Appliance, which is always looking for ways to improve its business, is taking a more elaborate approach. Last year the Pleasant Hill, Calif.-based company sent four key salespeople to the Convention in Dallas, which proved to be very beneficial. This year, pandemic or not, President and CEO Matthew Leachman decided to book time away in a hotel to attend the show “live,” and have already locked down three of the 2019 attendees. The isolated environment, he explained, will help maximize what they can absorb.

 “In this setting they will be able to give their undivided attention,” Leachman noted. “If they were home, they would have too many distractions, and at work they would be constantly interrupted.” The hotel setting also provides a safe environment as well as a quiet respite from work, he said.

Leachman hopes to have four or five staffers attending the show, including himself. As for the added cost of room and board, “We look at this as a way to invest in our business,” he said. “We are embracing this concept. For all we know we may get more out of this than a conventional show.”

Like Leachman, Duncan Kramer and Lee Zeglin of Zeglin’s Home TV and Appliance in Davenport, Iowa, are planning on attending the Convention at a hotel. The idea originally was tossed around as a joke, but the more they thought about it, the more it made sense.

Zeglin’s Duncan Kramer: Plans to hunker down at a hotel to avoid distractions.

“Let’s face it,” Kramer said, “we are all programmed to put out the fire that is in front of us. It is way easy to get sucked into the day-to-day work grind and lose sight of what is more important — improving your business long term. It is impossible to absorb very much when you have one eye on the screen and the other on the counter.”

Both Kramer and Zeglin believe that being offsite will help them focus on what may be a more demanding way to absorb information from the show, and that the cost of the hotel room is well worth the investment to avoid the distractions of participating from home. And make no mistake, neither is looking at this as some sort of a getaway; both plan to hit it hard, take in all the updates and schedule multiple vendor sessions.

While he will miss the in-person interaction, Kramer anticipates a good show experience overall. “I believe that listening to a speaker remotely can still be very effective at teaching us how to improve our business,” he said. “You don’t stop trying to learn new things just because you are not able to travel. This is the best possible option given the cards we have been dealt.”

An added benefit is bringing staff to the show, and having key employees visit the Convention’s “Hot Topics” room — something Zeglin’s would be unable to do on-site.

We are all learning new ways to work effectively and network safely from remote locations, AVB as well. So please schedule time outside of the store to take in this year’s Virtual Convention. Wherever you decide that quiet place will be, we look forward to seeing you and presenting a productive event!

For all things Convention related, visit the 2020 Convention section of YSN.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.