Fair Sales Practice

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For the past 13 years, Tom Callen''s company has sponsored a booth at the Wisconsin State Fair. Although Fair participation takes careful planning and a significant time commitment, it''s also a great source for good leads.

October 30, 2000

There are more prizes to be won at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee than stuffed animals and free candy. A dedicated remodeler can earn qualified leads and enhanced customer recognition. Tom Callen, president of Callen Construction in Muskego, Wis., participates in the Fair every year.

"It''s a great way for us to generate leads, and we get a good percentage of sales, but our existing customers also get to see us there," he says. "It''s very positive. A lot of our customers stop in and visit. We use it as a reference point for them. They know we''re there, and we remind them of what we can do. It''s very worthwhile."

According to Callen, about 15 remodelers participate in the Fair each year, although he doesn''t think this detracts at all from the traffic to his booth. He estimates that one out of every eight leads garnered from the Fair result in sold projects, and that the Fair itself results in about 100 leads generated for his business.

Callen Construction doesn''t offer any special promotion for Fair customers, nor do they do any special advertising for their booth. "We have free estimates, but we don''t have box stuffers or giveaways," Callen says. "Those activities will get you lots of leads, but they''re not very good. The leads we get at the fair are good ones."

Booth representatives are available to speak with prospective clients, familiarizing them with the company and discussing potential projects. Callen staff are able to write estimates right inside the booth to help solidify projects. The Callen Construction booth is staffed by salespeople, who work the 12-hour days in three four-hour shifts. Office staff come and assist as necessary, and on busy years, Callen will occasionally pay a few of his customers to come and help maintain the booth as well. The total costs for running a booth at the State Fair come to about $2,500, Callen estimates.

"The biggest cost of the Fair is time, more than the money," says Callen. "It requires a lot of time, and a lot of patience, but the rewards are there for the people who can make the time. If you can manage to take the time to work the fair and work it well, then it will be worthwhile."

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