These days, everyone has a preference for interacting in their daily lives. My son wants to do all communication via the internet and I prefer the phone. Our administrative assistant extols the virtues of mobile bank deposits, while I like to go into the bank branch. No one way is best and much of the disagreement is admittedly generational. I am not completely technologically naive ; I send emails, automated work orders and invoices. We have an aggressive email marketing program. The source of the disagreement is based more on a philosophical difference. I go into my bank branch because I want to develop and maintain my personal relationship with the bank manager. I feel the same about my automobile mechanic, my vendors and most importantly, my customers. For example, a group of current and past customers know my husband is at the shop by 7am, and they arrive in the morning, coffee in hand, to “chat”. Often they are not there to talk canvas but to simply socialize over their morning cup of Joe. Just as often, they will pass on the name of someone they know who may need canvas or offer up a telephone number. The fabric of our business is based on these face-to-face relationships.
Belonging to an organization such as the NECPA is an extension of that same philosophy. The annual conference is rich with opportunities to connect with fellow manufacturers and vendors in person. The floor expo at the conference end is great for viewing new products and quickly meeting with customers or vendors. Training seminars and social interactions at meals and in the hallways are ways to create new relationships, as NECPA members are eager to share their knowledge, products and contacts. By participating in the entire program, one makes invaluable connections. It is much easier to call a fellow fabricator with a question or a request for help if you already know them. It is certainly more pleasant to negotiate pricing with your vendors or for vendors to tailor specific product offerings after chatting during cocktails about your respective businesses. The richness of the NECPA is in the people who belong to it and their wealth of knowledge.
I urge those new to the NECPA or who previously limited their participation to the NECPA Expo to consider attending the entire conference. It is an exceptional opportunity to build those relationships that will serve you and your business for years. Next year’s conference is January 12-14 at the Springfield MassMutual Center. To find more information or to register, visit: http://www.necpa.org/