AHR Expo
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How to Attend the AHR Expo

Jan. 30, 2020
It's easy to feel overwhelmed as you enter the show's massive exhibit hall. Follow this plan and you'll make it through.

The AHR Expo will be held in Orlando February 3 – 5.  If you are planning to attend (and you should), here are 7 ways to get more out of the show.

You Need a Strategy
Because it serves the entire industry, from residential service to industrial design/build, AHR is large, massive even. It is easy to feel a little overwhelmed. Unless you have a strategy, you might find you are spending time walking and gawking, accomplishing little or nothing.  Thus, it is important to plan your moves.

1. Identify Your Needs
What are the business problems you face that you are seeking solutions for?  Is it recruiting technicians?  Or, is it making the phone ring?  Regardless of the problem, look through the list of exhibitors before the show starts to identify exhibitors promising solutions to your problems.

If you are looking for particular products to upgrade or round out your product offering, follow the same process.  Identify exhibitors offering those products before the show.

2. Map the Exhibitors You Must See
Once you have your list of exhibitors, divide them into two groups.  The first group is the “must see” group.  The second is the “nice to see” group.  Map out the exhibitors according to these groupings.  This is a little like dispatching.  If a “nice to see” exhibitor is near a “must see,” you might hit the lower priority stop because it is on the way.

 Like many shows, AHR has an app you might find valuable.  There is also an online show planner.  These can aid your planning.

3. Walk the Floor
If you have time, walk the floor.  Here you are looking for surprises, things that might help your business that you never knew existed.  This is one of the main reasons for attending a trade show.  Companies with products and services that can help businesses like yours show them off at expos like AHR.

With the connected home and Internet of things, there are going to be more and more surprises and more and more opportunities for add-on sales.  This is an opportunity to get a jump on them before your competition even realizes these products exist.  Accordingly, do not overlook the small booths (i.e., the booths in the 7,000 and up area).  A lot of new, innovative products are shown in smaller booths.

4. Use Your Time Well
It is tempting to get caught up on the awe of the massive chillers and cooling towers on display.  Much, if not most of AHR is given to high rise commercial, industrial, and biotech/lab products.  These products are not of much use to a residential/light commercial contractor so do not let yourself get distracted by them.  If you do not have a sheet metal shop and are unlikely to buy a CNC plasma cutter, do not spend your time staring at the CNC equipment.

5. Ask Exhibitors to Give You a Mini-Seminar
Surprisingly, many exhibitors are poor salespeople.  Help them.  Turn every booth you visit into a mini-seminar so that you quickly learn about the products.  It’s okay to be blunt.  Say, “Show me how you can help me make money or save time.”  If an exhibitor can do that, it’s worth spending time at the booth.  If not, move on.

6. Take Notes
A lot of literature ends up being left in the hotel room.  Even when you return with it, you might forget the key details.  This is why it is important to take notes.  Bring a notebook with you and write down the key points and thoughts about the exhibitors when you collect literature and/or business cards.

7. Follow-Up
When you return home after the show, you will be behind.  Before you jump back in to the fire drills that are part and parcel of running a contracting business, come up with three action steps you will take as a result of your investment to attend AHR.  Then, focus on the first one.  Once it is complete, tackle the next.  In this way, you will move your business forward.

Stop by the Service Roundtable booth #8685 for a chance to win a Kegerator!  Learn more about the Service Roundtable by calling
877-262-3341 and asking for a tour.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.