How to Organize for Furniture Market

Filed under Organization

Whether you’re a newbie to High Point Furniture Market or a seasoned pro, I have a few organization tips that will help you make the most of your experience. With more than 2,000 exhibitors and millions of square feet of showroom space, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed without a good plan. Of course, you want to make the best use of your time while there, but I think the biggest problem people have is remembering all the fantastic ideas and people you meet after the show!

It’s a whole lot easier if you do a little prep work before you head out of town as well as follow these suggestions while there and when you get home.

My organization obsession (yes, it’s an obsession, but it serves me well!) helps me tackle the shows because I break it down into phases that I can handle—before, during and after the show.

Before the Show

One-Two Months Before the Show

  • Visit the show’s website
    • The show’s website will have planning help and tips, info on what’s new or can’t be missed, and a list of exhibitors and events.
  • Register to attend
    • Even if you’re still wavering about attending, go ahead and register early so you get your pass early and won’t have to wait in line to get it if you do go!

Two Weeks Before the Show

  • Vendors
    • Check out the website to see all the vendors who will be at the show.
      • Pro tip: Most websites allow you to filter vendors by product category, price point, style, etc. to cut down on the overwhelm of it all.
    • Determine who you want to visit including your favorites and any new vendors you wish to meet.
    • Schedule your visits BEFORE you get to the show.
      • Pro tip: Don’t OVERBOOK yourself, but if you don’t schedule these vendor visits before the show you might not get the chance to chat with someone or order some special items because vendors will book up fast. Nothing is more depressing than getting there and they don’t have time for you!
      • Group your visits by location! Oh my goodness, this one is HUGE! Otherwise, you’ll waste time—and get blisters—crisscrossing the exhibit hall (and its millions of square feet) to get from place to place.
  • Who do you want to talk to?
    • Don’t forget: Fellow designers, product designers, showroom managers and marketing peeps.
  • Parties/dinners
    • All work and no play makes for a very long day! If you heard about a great party or dinner you want to attend, now’s the time to secure that invite!
    • Maybe you want to be the hostess? A dinner, large or small, is a great way to bring those people together that you want to be sure you see!
    • Why choose just one? Maybe you can party hop if you chart your plan well.
  • Workshops and education
    • This is MY favorite part! There are so many opportunities to educate yourself on a wide variety of topics so you can become an even better professional.
    • AND, there are tons of great networking opportunities to meet and mingle with great people before, during and after a talk or seminar!
  • Create your list of items needed for clients
    • Have you hit a wall with a particular project? Make note of where you might need some extra inspiration and set out to get it!
    • Do you need anything from specific categories such as lighting or accessories? List it and you won’t forget it.
  • Pack essentials
    • Business cards: I learned this trick from my good friend Denise McGaha; bring about 100 business cards – both your AWESOME ones and your OK ones. Are you wondering what that’s about? Of course, you want to bring your fancy, expensive letterpress cards to hand out to those you want to impress—you know those special people. BUT, also get some low-cost extras that just convey your essential info and that won’t leave you crying every time you hand one out. We all know most of them will be trashed anyway, and many people will just record your contact info digitally and discard the card. (Check out my fav for some great options!)
    • Extra phone chargers
      • Always carry extras! We use our phone for EVERYTHING! It’s no good to be charged to zero when you want to take a picture of a display or need to find your way to the next seminar!
      • Check out the links below to find great resources for other things to bring.

During the Show

  • Each morning after coffee, evaluate and reevaluate your plan for the day.
    • Who are you visiting? What’s your schedule? You need to start each day with a plan.
    • Some of you may prefer to make your plan the night before, but I’m always too exhausted!
    • Keep your checklist with you (see download) and refer to it often! You don’t want to be stuck in a showroom too far away from your next appointment.
  • Let the MyMarket App be your guide. Refer to the show’s app to help navigate the showroom.
  • Visit vendors
    • If you have a specific reason for visiting, be sure you refer to your list so you won’t forget.
    • Always bring your smile. They are exhausted, too, and this little gesture will help you stand out.
  • Did you find something that trips your trigger?
    • Pro tip: Take a picture of the showroom name FIRST (name and location/number), then take pictures of the items you like or want to remember. THANK YOU to my friend Traci Zeller who taught me this trick that has saved my bacon (and my failing memory) SO many times!
  • Schedule free time
    • I know, I’ve been preaching “make the most of your time,” BUT scheduling free time DOES allow you to do that. Free time gives you the room to evaluate each day in order to make changes, and there is inevitably a showroom or two that EVERYONE is talking about that was never on your radar! You will thank me later when you are able to go visit it because you listened and scheduled free time!

After the Show

  • You’re exhausted. Your mind is spinning. But THIS is the time to take notes!
  • Use airport and plane time to go through pictures and organize them by client, vendor or project inspiration.
  • Organize those business cards
    • I immediately transfer any contacts I want to remember into my phone. The rest of those business cards get trashed (see my point above about bringing OK business cards!)
  • Schedule time to follow-up with key people you met at the show RIGHT AFTER! I don’t wait to schedule my follow-up tasks. I know I need time to re-group, so I schedule the follow-up for 2 to 3 weeks down the line, but it’s ON my calendar before the clean-up crew is done.

OK, I know I gave you a lot of to-dos to think about, but it’s a cinch when you follow my Excel document. Use it as a template for your next furniture market! If you are going to High Point Furniture Market, be sure to download this now!

Here are those blog posts to check out for packing essentials:

Ten Tips for Conquering High Point by Denise McGaha

High Point Furniture Market Tips by Lisa Mende

Pro Tips for a Most Productive Market by Donna Vining

Remember to download the Furniture Market Checklist here!

Remember to download the Furniture Market Checklist here!!



P.S. When you get home from the show, let me know how my checklist worked for you and if there are other things you’d add! I LOVE refining my process!