August 2009


I know, there’s still over a month to plan, but there are a few things that I’ve put off that I should have done weeks ago.

I still haven’t reserved a hotel room.  Hopefully, there’s still one left!  I still haven’t decided how I’m getting to Boston.  Hope there’s still two seats available!

I’ve got to find a pallet to load up all our stuff for the show and ship it to Boston.  Speaking of pallets, I also have to figure out how to shrink wrap the thing!

This is going to be fun.

On the plus side, I think I’ve hit upon a “sustainable” booth design that we can make out of recyclable materials so I don’t have to repack the pallet at the end of the show and pay to have it shipped back to Florida.

Basically, we’re going to organize our booth out of cardboard.  the flooring will be made from scraps of our own fabrics, like we did for the Ohio and Kentucky shows.  Here’s a picture of what the floor looks like.

KFDC_Booth_006

We’ll also take just one cot cover in each of our fabric patterns.  And any that are ordered at the show will be put into a cardboard box and shipped from the convention center at the end of the show.  I’m also having our signage made in fabric panels that can be attached to the cardboard structure and our “fake stretcher” will be the PVC one that we’ve used for the past several shows.  At the end of the show, we’ll recycle the parts that can be recycled and trash the rest of it.

The banners will get packed into boxes with the two best sections of the floor and shipped to back home via UPS or FedEx.  I don’t plan to take thousands of printed sheets, since the city is filled with Kinko’s that can print color brochures at a moment’s notice.  Besides, my experience in Orlando was that even when we were selling LOTS of covers, we still needed fewer than 1000 handouts.  I expect we’ll go through about 500 here.

Anything I’ve missed?  Seriously, tell me if I’m not thinking something through properly.  Time’s ticking, right?

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Folks, I have been super-busy.  Between the uniform store (www.eliteuniformstore.com) and cot covers (www.cotcovers.com), I’ve had my hands full.

And now I remember that the 2009 NFDA Convention is less than two months away!  ARGH!!!! So much still to do.

The first convention I attended was in Las Vegas, but I had family there, so I was able to ship my product and fly out to meet it. 

The last convention was in Orlando, which meant a 1 hour ride, carrying the product and shelving units in the back of the truck.

But this year, it’s in Boston and I’ve got to send my products and display in a crate or on a pallet via common carrier.  Boy, am I nervous about that plan!

For the most part, I’m worried about getting everything there in one piece.  I’m also concerned about the cost.  I’m notoriously frugal, so I hate to shell out extra bucks for something that has never cost me a lot of money.  Oh, and I’m still worried about what happens if my stuff doesn’t arrive.

Add to it the stress of opening a retail store (www.eliteuniformstore.com) and you can imagine my current frustrations. 

So I’m going to call the hotel tomorrow to make the reservation.  And I’ll book our flights.  And I’ll try to figure out the best way to load a pallet and wrap it so that everything stays safe.  Anyone got pointers?

And I’ll be back here in the next few days to, hopefully, announce a great benefit for exhibitors at the 2009 NFDA Convention.  Hint?  It involves some high-profile publicity through NFDA and some interaction with me!

Can’t wait, can you?

Our friends at Connecting Directors have invested in some important changes that will make the site easier to read and more feature-filled for visitors.  Here’s a word from site founder, Ryan Thogmartin:

Pushing forward as the leader in funeral industry news and articles ConnectingDirectors.com has rebuilt their website to incorporate the most advanced forms of online publication and social networking features. Members will be impressed with the ease of navigation and high end graphics that make a visit to the site a truly enjoyable experience.
Just on the homepage itself, members will have access to over 24 different articles! ConnectingDirectors.com is providing the most up-to-date and relevant funeral industry news and information found anywhere on the web.

Updated multiple times a day, ConnectingDirectors.com has added more features to encourage members to interact with the site and each other. Since the site is update so frequently members will receive a “Daily Updates” email with a link to new articles that were published that day. With the addition of an online “Polling” system, CD.com is able to receive feed back from members regarding funeral industry topics.

With their new site ConnectingDirectors.com is bringing the first only source of social networking to the funeral industry. These social networking features include private messaging, extended profiles, the ability for members to create sub groups within the site, and also allowing members to “friend” each other just like the worlds largest social networking site Facebook. Also added to the mix of new features is a new and improved Discussion Board (Forum).

Because of the addition of these powerful social networking features current members of ConnectingDirectors.com will have to re-register on the site.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

Ryan Thogmartin – Founder and CEO

I had a great question from an urn maker who will be exhibiting at the NFDA Convention for the first time this October.

Artist David Orth asks:

How many brochures do you think I ought to print for an event like this?  I’m thinking 2000, is that overkill?  Underkill (is that even a word?)?

When I attended my first NFDA show, I printed 2500 brochures and came back with more than 2000 of them.  Truth is, even if you hand a brochure to everyone willing to take one, while you ignore the real, meaningful conversations you could be having with people who want to go “in-depth,” you will still probably only give out 1000 pieces.

The NFDA show is not the place for you to get your product in front of every single person in the funeral industry.  Heck, it’s not even the right place to get it in front of everyone who attends! 

Too often, exhibitors assume that everyone who attends will pass by their booth.  They also incorrectly assume that everyone who passes by their booth will be willing to take a brochure.  And, this assumption kinda hinges on everyone who attends the show being attentive and connected to a funeral home in some meaningful way.

First, you need to remember that many of the people who attend the show are there on vacation with their loved one who does happen to be a funeral professional.  Lotsa kids come to these shows.  And by kids, I also mean teenagers and young adults who may be in mortuary school, but are unfamiliar with how to walk a trade show floor and interact.

Frankly, the kinda company that Mr. Orth runs, making unique and expensive art urns, doesn’t need 2000 clients.  I imagine that he would have difficulty making 2000 urns in a year, considering the beautiful furniture and art he makes in his primary line.

So Orth needs to find only a few takers amongst the thousands who will attend the show.  He needs to get his brochures into funeral directors’ hands, but there’s less urgency for him to “close a sale” at the show.  I imagine that most of the business he generates at the NFDA show will come from funeral directors who take his literature home and show it off to people in their community.

I’d say take 1,000 brochures and make sure they’re directed at the consumer.  Don’t put your wholesale pricing on them and don’t make them time-sensitive.  That way, a funeral director who finds the tri-fold a year later and shows it to a family doesn’t have to worry about “2009 pricing!” staring back at them.

He goes on to ask about dress code, which I addressed in the previous post.

This is as good a time as any to talk about one major mistake I see funeral industry exhibitors making:  wearing inappropriate clothing.

For my small company, the only appropriate clothing is a dark suit with conservative tie.  Why do we wear this?  Because we’re selling a product used during home and hospital removals, when funeral homes pay special attention to how their staff dresses and acts.

If I look like I could go on a removal at a moment’s notice, it allows them to visualize the cot cover in it’s natural, if unpleasant setting: during the transfer of remains into a funeral home’s care.

Of course, there are areas of funeral service where a more casual appearance might be appropriate.  Someone selling retorts (crematory machinery) might want to wear something industrial, like a jumpsuit.  Folks peddling chemicals often wear embriodered shirts with the company logo.

Still, wearing a shirt unbottoned to the navel and spiking your hair might tell a visitor to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) that you are hip and involved with the latest technology, but all it does to funeral convention attendees is turn them off.

I watched last year as my friends from Eternal Space, a now-defunct company, tried to wow attendees with their tech-forward Internet memorial concept, and wondered how much more comfortable their visitors would have been if the presenters had looked more like them.

Does long hair and funky purple leather European loafers help impress funeral directors?  Hardly.

Keep it simple and dignified.

I’m sure it’s a well-worn phrase, but there are never enough hours in the day.  Between running our growing funeral supply business (we make quilted cot covers), opening a retail uniform store (www.eliteuniformstore.com) and keeping up with my work at the local fire department, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of time to pay attention to my family.

Even worse, the only time I’ve spent with any family in recent memory has been to work on one of the businesses.

So I took last night off.  And it was during a soak in the hot tub that I realized that I’ve been missing a very important part of my life:  writing here on the blog!

Now, this isn’t one of those “I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog in six bazillion years” posts.  Frankly, there’s no room for pity here.  Also, everyone who reads this blog knows how busy I’ve been.

But there is a viceral jolt I get from writing to my blog friends and sharing important funeral industry-related information and opinion.  So I’m sorry I haven’t been around more, if only because it’s jeopardized my own mental well-being.

So look for some more stuff coming at you in the coming days.  I can’t promise I’ll post every single day – it would be disingenous of me and tempting fate, I think – but I know I’ll be around more.

Plus, I want to tell all of you about the August/September “UN-Conventional Convention Special” we’re offering to all our former cot cover customers.

So stick around.  I’ll see ya later.