The Importance of Finding the Right General Service Contractor for Your Next Expo

The general service contractor is hugely important to the set up of your trade show. Their responsibilities are numerous – the general service contractor has to inspect the site of the trade show, prepare several versions of the show’s floor layout and exhibit placement, generate an exhibitor services manual, obtain approval from the fire marshal for the floor plans, install sponsorship signage, rig lighting fixtures and more. Considering the number of tasks they are responsible for and the fact that the success of the trade show is in large part dependent on the quality of their work, finding the right general service contractor is something you can’t take lightly. The biggest mistake you could make is to just hire the cheapest contractor you can find. In fact, considering what’s at stake, you should interview and compare contractors before making the decision to hire one. The following are some of the important things you should do in order to hire the right general service contractor:

SAN DIEGO - JULY 14: ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) user convention trade floor. July 14 2010 in San Diego California ** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

• Make sure they are fully licensed and insured – At the very least, a general service contractor should be fully licensed and insured. If they aren’t, then they are probably not a reputable contractor and you should avoid working with them. You can verify their license with the local licensing authority, but a good contractor should have no problem providing you with proof that they are licensed and insured.

• Make sure that they will obtain necessary permits – There are contractors out there who cut corners. These contractors will tell you that you don’t need any permits – this is absolutely not true. A good contractor will tell you what permits you need and will get them for you as well. Any work that is done without the proper permit could result in a steep fine and the order to tear down the work that was done.

• Check their reputation – Look up online reviews of the contractor in order to assess their general reputation. Most reputable contractors should be able to provide you with referrals that allow you to check up on them. Call up past clients and ask them not only about the quality of their work but also about their customer service. You want to work with somebody that provides clear communication and that will listen to your wants and needs.

• Ask about their experience – The last thing you want to do is hire a general service contractor that has no experience with trade shows. This is just asking for trouble. Yes, everybody has to start somewhere. However, you should stay away from contractors that have zero experience on the trade show floor and even contractors who may have done subcontracted work on a trade show floor but was never responsible for the entire contractor job – only hire someone with plenty of experience doing exactly what you are hiring them to do.

• Ask about their communication process – Communication is hugely important if you plan on setting up a successful trade show floor. Ask the contractor what their process is for working with clients such as yourself. How will they get in touch with you? How will they keep you up to date on the work?

These are just a few of the things that you need to do in order to find the right general service contractor. Once you do find a general service contractor you are comfortable with hiring, make sure that everything you go over is in writing, including the estimated costs, an itemized budget, the start time and end time, and everything the contractor is responsible for doing.