Managing my very first exhibition vehicle roadshow

An exhibition vehicle with entrance showing steps and wheelchair ramp

Exhibition vehicle for a major new product launch.

head and shoulder photo of vicky sugden

“Thrown into the responsibility of running an exhibition vehicle roadshow was a baptism of fire that has turned into something I know is going to be both exciting and rewarding”  Vicky Sugden

 

As a Product Manager, even with a few years’ of experience behind me, I was initially somewhat daunted to be asked (well actually I was told!) that in 2022 I would be running my first ever nationwide roadshow in  support an exciting new product launch in the building supply industry.

Since the project, at the moment of writing this, remains a closely guarded secret I cannot go into more details other than to say our product development team have come up with a simply stunning new product, related to the world of plumbing.

Whilst traditional promotion methods were considered by our Management Committee, most were rejected, as our product needs to be demonstrated to show its many features and benefits. Additionally it was felt that personnel in our distribution network will require some training to be able to act as our unofficial sales team. Practical demonstration being far better than a brochure.

Based on what we had done in the past our “traditional” roadshow approach would consist of booking a range of venues to which we would invite our distribution partners.  But given the current post Covid climate our own sales staff reported quite a negative response to this when putting feelers out.

So on the principal that if the mountain wouldn’t come to us then it was decided that we must go to the mountain!

My first thought was to prepare some demonstration equipment that our own sales team could carry around in their cars but this idea had to be abandoned almost immediately it was thought of.  So the answer had to be to make use of a vehicle of some sort, which we could move around the country, travelling from one distribution outlet to the next. Handing over the driving form one sales member to the next.

Doing this would have the benefit that we could park at customers premises to minimise their staff downtime and also, hopefully, capture potential end users as they bought supplies. Thus creating a push pull for our product.

Exhibition vehicle first mistake!

In my naivety I popped along to local vehicle dealerships with the idea of buying a vehicle with the intention of our exhibition stand builders doing out the interior.

It was an eye opener, as availability was an issue I hadn’t considered.  From some I was being quoted 14 months or more to obtain a new vehicle….take it or leave it.  Others were very pushy to get me to buy what they had in stock, all of which even in my infancy in the business, told me were totally unsuitable with either very high access, low ceilings or just plain too small.

So this approach certainly wasn’t working for me.

An exhibition vehicle during construction inside the MVTech factoryMulti Vehicle Technology Ltd

I did the natural thing and started to Google, which I should perhaps have done in the first place!

Finding a number of companies offering to build an exhibition vehicle the phone calls began and after three or four such calls my initial high spirits were yet again starting to wane.  I just didn’t feel comfortable being on the end of the “sales patter” I was receiving.

It was a world of difference when speaking with Steve Stones at Multi Vehicle Technology. At first I was taken aback by the pleasantly asked, but none the less rapid fire questions directed at me (the answers to some being a struggle for me to answer). But it quickly dawned on me that here was someone trying to understand what I was aiming to do, how I needed to work, where I wanted to go, before making suggestions as to the vehicle that would best suit our campaign.

To cut a very long story short he ran through issues such as driving licenses, tachographs and much more that.  He homed in on the ideal for us being a 3500 kgs low floor exhibition vehicle with a body length of 4.8 metres and a minimum internal height of 2.2 metres.  Perfect.

Bad news about exhibition vehicle availability

He then gave the bad news, which wasn’t too much of a surprise, in that a new vehicle was going to arrive some 12 months too late for our product launch.  But not to be daunted I was promised a return call within 24 hours and sure enough I was called back the next day with the recommendation that MVTech had found a suitable low mileage second hand low floor vehicle that they could convert and supply in time to meet my deadline.

I was assured that any design features and any decorative finishes I would have approved for a new vehicle would be possible on this one.  Wow, a solution to all of my requirements.

seating inside of an exhibition vehicleTesting the market

I’m pleased to say that our “new” exhibition vehicle (which to me and my colleagues looks new) was delivered on time. Although still under closely guarded wraps I can confirm that we have, just this week, visited one of our local distributors as a test run, and were amazed to have an initial order confirmed there and then during the very first outing. Wow, what a success (should look good on my CV).

I cannot wait to write a follow up blog to tell you all how the first few months of our roadshow pan out.

 

 

the exterior of a refurbished exhibition vehicleFor help and advice on your roadshow requirements call Multi Vehicle Technology on 0116 326 0989 or write to sales@multivehicletechnology.co.uk

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