JB’s Space: What Am I Getting For My Money?

Ever go to the doctor's office feeling like utter road-kill, sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes, see the doctor for five minutes only to have him tell you that you've got a virus and there's nothing he can treat it with and it will just have to run its course? Of course you have. Did you pay the bill? Of course you (or your insurance) did. But then did you ever ask yourself, what did I just get for my money? Of course you have - we all have.

Ever bought a bottle of drain opener and followed the directions to a tee (you even wore the rubber gloves and goggles), dutifully sat-by for the required 30 minutes and then had to call a plumber the following day because the drain was still blocked and you don't own a snake and even if you did you wouldn't know what to do with it? As you write a check to the plumber you silently ask yourself, thinking of the nine bucks you shelled out for the drain cleaner, what did I get for my money?

Did you ever take your wife or a client or whomever to one of those haughty-taughty restaurants where all the food comes covered in silver domes and the waiter(s) simultaneously lift-off the covers only to reveal some kind of grass sticking out from a tiny but colorful lump of food that would make a lovely serving size for your cat or ferret and then wonder, after devouring the whole plate in 3 to 5 small bites - what am I getting for my money?

You get the point. I'm sure we could start a tasty blog with example after example where folks think they're getting little return on their investment. And please don't misunderstand me - not everything in life is an ROI equation. Some things we do solely for the pure joy, pleasure, wonder and catharsis that whatever it is offers us - regardless of the cost. But there are so many areas of our personal and professional lives where this does come into play and some of these things really take away from - if not the joy in life - then the trust we have for others - and that's a bad thing for everyone.

"Buyer beware" is as old as Latin but aren't we supposed to be more enlightened today than our ancestors from 2000 years ago? Shouldn't honor today mean more than just a word within the phrase, "there's no honor among thieves"? Personally I don't like being considered cheap - so I'm not - I think it's a mean spirited way to live. However, I do question what I get for my money - and so should we all.

When I joined this industry, 110 days before 9/11, I didn't know a lot of the terminology ("what the heck is drayage", I asked), let alone what things cost. I quickly learned why something as simple as a cabinet or a kiosk, a graphic or an overhead sign could cost as much as they did. We're a "one-off" industry that requires an iterative process with our clients and staff in order to get to the final product. Behind the craftsman on the shop floor who can build, wire, plumb and then crate for safe transit virtually anything you can think of, there are consultants, designers, engineers, graphic artists and project managers. And what these folks do before any drawing gets to the shop floor requires a whole lot of time and effort as virtually anyone who has staged an event or exhibited at a trade show can tell you.

So while seven years ago I didn't know why an eight foot long reception counter could cost as much as $10,000 - today I do. That being said, even after seven years I'm still a bit bewildered, as I was from the get-go as to what you're getting for your money when it comes to show drayage (material handling fees). For example, $60.00/hundred weight (or sixty cents a pound if you prefer) isn't an unusual rate for a show contractor to charge. For those of you like me who are math challenged, that means if you have a 10,000 pound exhibit you're going to pay $6,000 in drayage. What are they paying those fork-lift drivers anyway?!

I wonder in part because our clients wonder as well, and I really can't explain it to them. I hope one day that we can have as a contributor to our Tradeshowfeed Blog, someone from one of the large show contractors who can help us better understand in the case of one my favorite obscure terms - "drayage", what we are getting for our money.

That's JB's space for now. Thanks for visiting.

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