I’ve returned from the 2008 IFDF Convention victoriously!

In my recent post, 2008 IFDF Convention: 2 Days Away, I outlined the way we’d measure success.  Since we’ve increased our year-to-year general sales total by almost 50%, I figured we’d sell 15 covers this time, compared with the 10 we sold last year.  And don’t forget, last year was a success, as 10 was the number I needed to sell to justify going to the NFDA Convention in Vegas last year.

When Friday’s session (the last) ended at 3:00 pm, we’d sold 18 covers.  I also extended the convention special 10% discount another week for several directors who promised to call in an order in the next few days.

After reviewing our performance, I’ve identified several factors that helped and hurt us.

1.  Our booth design was better.  While the shelves we added are a bit cheap-looking and industrial, they elevated the product and drew people to our booth.  The open side of the booth encouraged people to gather around the sample cover and look over the features.

2.  A 10% off convention special encouraged customers to buy right now.  In fact, I think half of our sales would have instead been “I’ll think about it” if I hadn’t pushed the big discount.

3.  Lower attendance hurt our numbers.  I don’t know what the exact figures will be, but all the vendors agreed that there was significantly less attendance this year than last.  My opinion?  Daytona is not a destination spot for Floridians, since most towns are just a few hours drive from the beach.  Had the event coincided with another major event in town, we may have seen more members.  I’d estimate we saw 35% less funeral directors than last year.  And while we still sold more, I can only imagine how much more product we would have moved if more people had attended.

4.  Having a lot of covers on hand was useful and made the booth more interesting.  On occasion, we saw people make a bee-line across the hall to see what was on our shelves.  And we had six covers leave the show with buyers.  That’s a third of our sales that don’t have to be manufactured and shipped later.  For the Kentucky convention at the end of this month, I’ll make sure we take even more with us and really pack the shelves.

5.  The Thursday kickoff session was poorly attended.  Fact is, most Florida funeral directors will drive to this convention.  And since the events last through Saturday evening, many want to spend Sunday on the beach before heading back home.  That means attending all three days of the convention will require someone to watch the funeral home from Thursday to Sunday.  For many smaller firms, that’s nearly impossible.  In addition, the only event held on Thursday was the welcome reception in the expo hall.  I can imagine that most directors chose to work their funeral home on Thursday and drive in early Friday morning.

All in all, the event was highly profitable for us.  We invested about $500.00 to attend (booth, fuel, odds and ends) and sold over $3500 worth of product.

And in just a few short weeks, we’re off to Louisville!