Business Tools

Tips to Help You Budget and Sell at the SEMA Show

 2008 SEMA Show Floor

To see what buyers will be at the 2009 SEMA Show, check out the buyer scroll on

Chuck Schwartz, CEM, executive show manager, recently conducted a SEMA webinar, “2009 SEMA Show Beats the Recession,” to help exhibitors prepare for the SEMA Show. Schwartz has managed the SEMA Show for 28 years and is recognized as one of the top trade show organizers in the United States.

With the existing economic uncertainty currently circulating, Schwartz reinforced the importance of the Show to businesses in the specialty-equipment industry.

“The Show is really an industry preview of what to expect for the coming year,” he said. “Business downturns will happen, but by staying out of the Show, you forfeit any opportunity to see a lot of buyers and business contacts in one place at one time. The Show truly is a world event.”

Schwartz says that he hears exhibitors concerned that some buyers aren’t coming. He points out that in 2008, there were 56,000 buying people at the Show.

“These are people who work for distributors, retailers and retail chains, tool companies—you name it, those people are coming,” he said. “They recognize that they still have to see new products and the reality that the recession will end, and they need the new products that will sell.”

To see what buyers will be at the 2009 SEMA Show, check out the buyer scroll on

Schwartz provided the following tips for selling at the Show:

  • Use the Matchmaking service—The service allows you to link with the buyers you want to see before the Show opens.
  • Offer pre-Show specials—You have to get the word out about your specials by using postcards or announcements.
  • Provide extra terms on minimum-sized orders—Don’t just offer closeouts; you have to push first-line merchandise. 
  • Have a seat for buyers—This offers them a chance to relax for a few minutes and provides an excellent chance for you to write an order. It my be a basic concept, but it will get buyers to stay in your booth longer.
  • Bring a “pen” to the Show—Have the mindset that you are going to make sales at the Show. You have to be prepared and ask for the order. You have to be the one who has to say "why not buy now?"

Schwartz also covered the importance of budgeting for the Show.

“It’s all about managing your costs. Do your best to stay close to your budget, and everyone on your team should know what the budget is and know what they are responsible for,” he said. “Cut down on entertainment and use per diem instead of reimbursing for expenses. Be smart about shipping your freight.” 

He provided details on some new and existing tools in place that will help exhibitors prepare and save, which include the free-drayage program, discount hotel rooms and the Leads Guarantee program.

Download the entire webinar presentation, “2009 SEMA Show Beats the Recession"