Finding the Right General Service Contractor
You’re preparing a trade show: trying to find the perfect location, creating a floor plan, signing permits, drafting documentation and assembling a lineup of vendors. You’re overwhelmed, realizing that there’s no possible way you can do all of this alone. A general service contractor could help you with all of these tasks, but you have no idea where to start looking for one. A great general service contractor could help you get your trade show off to a great start, but a poor one could ruin everything, and with no contacts in the industry, you are apprehensive about putting so much trust in a stranger. Scenarios like these can leave you feeling alone, stressed and overwhelmed as the date of your trade show looms nearer. If this sounds like you then you are in the right place. Jacoby Expo is here to help.
Things to Consider
The importance of finding the right general service contractor cannot be overstated. They will help you with a tremendous amount of the preparation that goes into any successful trade show, including helping you to find a viable venue, desirable vendors and essential permits. They will even work with you to draft a floor plan for your event to ensure that your event will run smoothly on the day it occurs. But what does it take to find the right general service contractor? What elements should you look for?
- They will need to be fully licensed and insured.
This guarantees that, at the very least, they are knowledgeable about their field and have at least some degree of experience.
- You will need to look into their reputation.
A solid general service contractor will be able to provide you with referrals. Call the numbers they give you and ask said referrals about the contractor you are considering, everything from their level of professionalism to their commitment to strong customer service to their reputability when it comes to securing permits.
- Finally, you will need to take a close look at their past work.
Make sure that the general service contractor you are considering has experience with trade shows similar to the scale and scope of your own. Strong contractors should be able to provide you with examples of their past work.
However, even if you follow these steps, even if you find a general service contractor with some experience in and knowledge of their field, you will not know their overall level of quality for sure until you actually hire them. But what if there was a company who had already made connections within the field, one who could weed out the good contractors from the bad and make sure you were given the opportunity to work with only the very best. That is where Jacoby Expo comes in.
What key information should I request when looking for a general service contractor for my event?
Any GSCs you consider should submit a formal proposal outlining their credentials. The proposal’s requirements should specify the scope and nature of information the vendor is expected to provide, which usually includes the following (although additional requirements may be requested)
- Organizational background
- Key personnel (who will be assigned to supervise the account, relevant experiencen and references)
- Vendor experience (in specific areas of work, cities, convention facilities)
- Qualifications relative to the needs of the organization
- Specified number of professional references
- Proof of Insurance including Commercial General Liability and Workers’ Compensation (U.S. only)
- Project overview: how will services be provided?
- Description of other services that are available
- Proposed fees or compensation structure, including all taxes and ancillary costs
How do local labor rules and regulations impact my exhibitors?
General service contractors and Labor Unions will define the work that each union will perform in a collective bargaining agreement. This agreement is negotiated periodically between each union and a general service contractor. When the OSC secures a contract to perform work, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement define which union has the right to do each type of work, the geographic boundaries of its jurisdiction as well as the work rules that apply. Collective bargaining agreements and work rules vary from destination to destination and facility to facility. In some cities, work rules have been modified significantly to allow for more flexibility surrounding who may do work, including exhibitors themselves. This has resulted in lowering some exhibitor’s costs while unions in other cities or facilities have been unwilling to relax their work rules.
Common responsibilities of labor unions:
- Material handling
- Forklift services
The two areas with the largest financial impact for exhibitors in a Union Labor state are:
- Material Handling – Union labor has exclusive jurisdiction over all freight, shipments and materials that cross the show floor. This includes exhibitors who self park and unload their vehicles to carry in their items. In some cities, the Union has the right to stop these exhibitors from hand carrying their items. In others, the restrictions allow only hand carrying of items and prohibits exhibitors from using any equipment with wheels to help bring their items in. Often times a “hand carry” or “POV” order form with explanation of charges is included in the exhibitor manual for exhibitors to budget for.
- Booth Display – Union labor has exclusive jurisdiction over building and dismantling booth displays and sometimes even booth products. The parameters of what an exhibitor can do themselves varies from city to city. Some cities may limit exhibitors to working only 30 min in their booth before labor may be forced to complete the job. Some allow exhibitors to work in their booth as long as they do not require the use of tools or ladders.
In the case of right to work or union labor states, it is important that show organizers are clear of the rules and regulations when selecting a city, state and venue. A Union Jurisdiction information page should also be included in your exhibitor services manual to clearly communicate these rules and regulations with your exhibitors.
When is it important to outsource work and when should we provide services internally?
The term “outsourcing” has become an exhibition industry standard. Outsourcing is the hiring of an outside company to provide goods or services for the organization’s business. The services and support necessary for the successful conduct of an exhibition are often outsourced by show organizers to contractors and other vendors. Relying upon outside contractors often allows the show organizer to secure more value at a lesser cost and bring special skills and expertise to the event.
Many organizations outsource their entire exhibition and do so successfully. There are also organizations that rely almost entirely upon their own staff to support their events. Generally speaking, though, most organizations rely upon a combination of in-house and outsourced support.
There may be some aspects of the event program that are not suitable for outsourcing, either because they are not likely to be included in the range of services offered by an outside contractor (e.g., accompanying VIPs to important presentations) or because they are just too critical to the sponsoring organization to allow another party outside control (e.g., depositing of daily registration receipts).
The discussion that follows describes the various roles and responsibilities of contractors and other vendors and describes the essential steps that make the selection of an ideal event partner possible. Like so many aspects of exhibition management, there is no one right way to do something. In the pages that follow, we describe the most common methods that show organizers use to establish and support contractor and vendor relationships. Outsourcing allows companies to focus on their event and leave the other items to professionals. Here are some of the benefits of outsourcing:
- Lower operational and labor costs
- Allows you to continue focusing on core business processes while delegating mundane time-consuming processes to external agencies
- Frees up internal resources that could be put in to effective use for other purposes
- Grants you access to resources not available internally
- Helps your company mitigate risk
- Aids you in expanding and gaining access to new market areas by taking the point of production or service delivery closer to end users
What qualities should I look for in show partner?
- Communication Style and Effectiveness
- Are the company’s key representatives effective communicators?
- Are they well-spoken and do they understand relevant concepts?
- Are they impressive or uninspiring?
- Are they good listeners? (This is critical for the organization as well as attendees and exhibitors.)
- General Level of Professionalism
- Is their appearance consistent with the accepted level of professionalism for the organization and industry?
- Are their supporting materials (including audiovisual) professional in content and appearance?
- Understanding of the Needs of the Organization
- Have they demonstrated through their proposal and presentation that they have a clear understanding of the needs of the organization or does it seem that they are unfocused or determined to advance a self-centered agenda?
- Have they done research about your organization and its mission and needs?
- Do they seem to have a sense of what is right for the organization or do they appear to be saying only what they think the organization wants to hear?
- Are they evasive in answering questions, or are they direct and open?
- Do they instill a sense of trust?
- Are these the kind of people that can represent the organization to others in a professional manner?
- Are they prepared?
- Is the presentation well organized?
- What sense do you get for the type of people that make up the organization?
- Do they seem like the type of people with whom the staff and the people that participate in the convention would enjoy working?
- Effective partnerships are based on relationships between people that know, trust and like one another. Do they seem capable of building these partnerships?
- The relationship needs to be a pleasant one, so a determination should be made that everyone involved can get along well with the vendor’s key representatives.
- Has everything been covered?
- Have they adequately addressed all of the key issues relative to the project and its needs?
- Unique Qualities
- Have they added aspects or value, setting themselves apart with unique services, their approach to business management or other key elements?
- In most cases, but not always, different is good. It demonstrates creativity and independence.
- The least-desired vendor is the vendor that is going to offer the organization a cookie-cutter approach.
How Jacoby Expo Can Help
Jacoby Expo has the knowledge and the connections necessary to find you an ideal General Service Contractor, the kind who can help you plan and facilitate just about every element of your pre-trade show prep to ensure its eventual success.
- We will find you a general service contractor with a great deal of experience and knowledge, not simply in their field but with trade shows similar to yours.
- You will never have to worry about overpaying with Jacoby Expo on your side. We will negotiate your contract with your general service contractor to make sure that the cost will be as low as possible and that you will receive every service that you require.
- We will work with you to establish a budget for your trade show, and then we will communicate your specifications to your general service contractor. By doing so we will be able to guarantee that said contractor will stick to your budget and plan your show based upon your specific needs.
If you are in the process of planning a trade show and you are apprehensive about finding a general service contractor on your own then contact Jacoby Expo today. We will find you the perfect candidate to match your needs and help make your upcoming trade show into a rousing success.
How to Get Started
Fill out the form below or call 419-376-3510 to speak to a member of the Jacoby Expo team for more details on how we can help you!