The GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America kick off today, bringing green industry professionals from across the country to Louisville, Ky., for three days of new product releases, equipment demonstrations and educational courses. Nearly 17,500 attendees and exhibitors are expected this year, according to show organizers.
For a GIE+EXPO HNA schedule of events Thursday-Saturday, click here.
Also, check out this list for a digest of supplier events and announcements on tap this week.
On Wednesday, Hardscape North America, Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) held pre-show courses. Here is a breakdown of what took place and what’s to come.
New this year at PLANET’s GIC is a pair of virtual tours conducted for the association by Lawn & Landscape.
Building on a history of successful on-site tours at conferences in years past, this year’s tours give conference attendees a chance to see how two leading companies – Jacobsen Landscape and Construction in Midland Park, N.J., and Chapel Valley Landscape in Woodbine, Md. – set up their shops, organize their equipment and structure their internal operations for maximum efficiency.
Presented by Lawn & Landscape editor and associate publisher Chuck Bowen, Wednesday’s virtual tours comprised a video tour of each company, a presentation by one of the company’s principals and then a question-and-answer session.
The same tours will be presented on the trade show floor at the GIE+EXPO Saturday at 9:30 a.m. And you can check www.lawnandlandscape.com after the show for access to the videos.
GIC offered a course on one of the fastest growing trends in the industry. The session “Vegetative Green Roofs – How to Capture this Hot Opportunity” was taught by Louisville-based C. Merrill Moter, principal-in-charge at Joseph & Joseph Architects.
Moter covered the key material components of green roofs, as well as how to market the service and the number of contractors – everything from roofing contractors to irrigation and landscaping contractors – involved in the construction of this type of project.
Green roofs are a lot of work and don’t come at a cheap price, so it’s important for landscapers thinking about adding the service to know the local and state incentives for building a green roof so they can pass the information along to clients. Many people know green roofs can help a building become LEED certified, it can save the building owner heating and cooling costs and it can increase the life of the roof by two to two and half years, Moter said. But in Louisville, for instance, the sewer company will help pay for green roofs to be built and it’ll decrease a customer’s costs because the green roof helps with stormwater management. That is a fact that is not well known, Moter said.
The three-hour class ended with a stop at two of the green roofs Moter worked on in the Louisville area. The stops showed the range in which green roofs can be designed and used.
“I think green roofs are wonderful for lots of reasons, but from a business standpoint, I think green roofs are a great opportunity,” Moter said. “It’s an area of expertise you can develop that a lot of people don’t have.”
Hardscape North America 2011 kicked with its Distributor Program that featured speaker Ed Fioroni, giving suppliers tips on setting expectations and developing a customer relationship management (CRM) program. Fioroni said the four keys for setting expectations for employees are:
- Setting them in the right climate: A place where the employee won’t feel uncomfortable or defensive.
- Teaching and providing input: “If you want someone to succeed, you have to put them in a teaching situation,” Fioroni said.
- You have to give managers a chance to speak up and give their opinions.
- You have to provide feedback, be it positive reinforcement or constructive criticism.
As far as building a CRM, Fioroni said the program will falter before you even begin if you don’t have one thing in place. “If you have the wrong culture, you will fail,” he said, adding that approximately 90 percent of the time you will fail if you have the wrong culture.
Another key aspect of CRM is retaining your current customers that spend the most money, and giving them more attention. “You can really make a difference by paying attention to the customers you have,” Fioroni said.
Lisa Lackovic, western sales manager at Pavestone Co. in Omaha, Neb., gave tips on how to develop creative marketing on a small company’s budget.
Lackovic said you should have a showroom that displays a project, and is kid-friendly. That way, when parents are shopping, they aren’t being rushed by an anxious child. “The longer a customer is in your showroom, the more time you have to upsell them on more of your products,” she said.