The 2017 edition of The Great American Trucking Show (GATS) is rapidly approaching. This year’s event will be taking place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas from Thursday August 24 to Saturday August 26. With over 500 exhibits, 52,000 industry relevant products, and 65 countries represented, it’s a perfect place to make a splash with your driver recruiting.
GATS and other trade shows like it offer a valuable and unique opportunity for recruiters to get out and actually meet with and talk to prospective drivers face to face.
Even with the added advantage of personal interaction with prospects, many struggle to achieve the level of success they desire when attending these events and become discouraged. Whether you are planning to attend GATS or any other trucking industry trade show, following these 4 steps ensure that you get the most out of your experience.
1. Make Sure the Show is Right for You
Trade shows are amazing opportunities, but you need to be selective and deliberate about which events you actually attend. The costs of operating a booth can add up and you’ll want to make every cent count.
Focus on Events With Attractions for Drivers
Events tailored around drivers with attractions and activities for them, such as celebrity appearances, concerts, and health screenings will surely have high driver turnouts. The more active drivers that attend an event, the bigger your prospective driver pool becomes, and in turn your chances for success grow exponentially.
Set Goals With Measurable Outcomes
Choosing a show that will be attractive to drivers is a great start, but you must always set realistic and attainable goals for your outing. It’s important that these goals can be monitored or measured to ascertain if what you are doing is working. By having a firm and measurable goal that can take stock of at the end of each day, you are able to gauge the success and tailor your efforts accordingly to maximize effectiveness.
2. Choose the Right Location at the Venue
Once you’ve determined you will be attending a show you need to start planning details for your booth. The sooner the better.
Secure Your Booth as Early as Possible
Being first isn’t always enough. You will need to be strategic about your booth placement. Most are tempted to immediately go after positions near the entrance or corner areas. While these are traditionally successful locations, there are other variables to take into account.
Being in a high traffic area is a plus, but many brush past the first booths as they enter. It’s important to secure a high traffic area that entices drivers to not only come, but stay in the area that your booth is located in. Booth locations near a food court or performance stages are great. Once you are all set with booth location, make sure your booth is attractive to potential drivers.
3. Bring the Right Staff to the Event
Choosing the right show and location at the show are crucial, but it does nothing for you if you don’t have the right people manning your booth. You need knowledgable, personable, memorable, and outgoing members of your team to represent you. It takes a certain kind of personality to be able to engage with a stranger without coming off as pushy at events.
Avoid Playing on Phones or Laptops
Any driver that passes by without being greeted while a team member is distracted by an electronic device is a missed opportunity. There are precious few seconds to grab and keep a driver’s attention as they pass through.
If there is a lull at the booth and the driver’s aren’t coming to you . . . go to the drivers. Have staff members go out to the active areas of the floor and engage with drivers.
Bringing a Top Driver Can Be Beneficial
Having a driver attend can not only serve as a reward for your current driver with some compensated time off the road, but it allows them to talk to fellow drivers and spread the word of any perks or benefits your fleet may offer. Drivers trust other drivers. Having one of your model employee drivers attend and represent your fleet is great way to generate positive word of mouth.
4. Follow Up and Nurture Leads After the Event
Any information gained at trade shows is extremely valuable. Converting contacts and leads into applicants and drivers is the goal. Many are unsure of exactly how to follow up with their leads. You must have a plan of how to move forward after the event with any leads you have managed to gain. Here are some suggestions that have yielded positive results in the past.
Provide Quality Content and Encourage Engagement
Content marketing is a good way to keep drivers engaged and cultivate a relationship with a prospective driver. Over time a trust can be developed. Even if the driver is not currently looking to switch fleets, by continuing to provide entertaining and informative content that is relevant to them, you ensure you will be fresh on their mind if they ever do decide to switch fleets.
Follow up With Email and Facebook
After the event, it’s a good idea to follow up leads with an email to thank prospects for their time and stopping by to talk with you. Using information gained through forms or paperwork at your booth you can begin targeting and pursuing drivers through their social media accounts. Facebook is a particularly popular and effective channel for this type of approach. Following up with emails and social media is fine, but be careful not to flood their inboxes with unwanted spam.
Get the Most Out of Future Trade Show Outings
Adhering to these simple principles as you move forward will allow you to minimize wasted funds, maximize the results for your efforts, and begin to grow a loyal base moving forward.
4 Keys to Having a Successful Trade Show Outing