Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association Retires the Whiteboard and Sharpie to Save Time and Money.
“Being a smaller association, we have to watch our pennies a little closer. Any kind of change is difficult to implement and we are sensitive to throwing a bunch of technology at our members. FloorplanGenie was a tipping point for us. Members liked it. Members wanted it. Now, [using a2zShowEZ] they can upload product descriptions, press releases, etc., and it’s our job to train them.”
The 16 year-old Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM),based in Dallas, Texas, is the leading membership organization for retail facilities professionals. Member companies include major retail chains such as Walmart and GameStop, plus the suppliers of maintenance products and services. The association produces three meetings each year ranging in size from 1,700 to 100 attendees and from 320 trade show booths to 35 table top exhibits.
Until 2011, PRSM handled booth sales manually, i.e., says Jeff Bond, director vendor relations, “using a laminated whiteboard and a Sharpie.” Financial management— invoicing, collections and cash flow—involved PDF documents faxed in from exhibitors, manual input and security precautions for numbers handwritten on exhibit space contracts and the constant re-balancing of the general ledger.
In an effort to improve productivity, Bond began researching event management solutions. With little, really no, budget, it was only a wish list until an online search and a tip from Freeman led him to FloorplanGenie, a free floor plan management service powered by a2z. Bond recalls making his case to the senior leadership of the association. “If we implement something like this, the amount of time that we will save and more importantly the accuracy of the financials that we are pulling in will be greatly improved,” he said.
Once FloorplanGenie was rolled out to members and the association experienced dramatic increases in efficiency and productivity, PRSM upgraded from the free tool to a2zShowEZ, a more robust tool for small-to-medium event organizers that includes the ability to manage online eBooth company descriptions/profiles for exhibitors and financial tracking, show website content management and reporting capabilities for show managers. They also added ChirpE Mobile enabling attendees to access show content—the floor plan, exhibitor directory and conference agenda —from any mobile device.
From the beginning, PRSM observed tangible benefits from using the suite of a2z event management tools:
- Savings of 50+ man hours in accounting per year
- Reduction in time to pull weekly sales reports from 4 hours to 10 minutes
- Improvement in accuracy of financials with general ledger always in balance
- Enhanced cash flow with accounts completely paid up 90 days from sell out
- Complete sell out of exhibit floor space 3 months earlier in sales cycle than prior year
- Return on investment of paid product was realized within three months
- Reduced sales staff time for on-site sales by 2/3rds
In addition to the measurable advantages that Bond’s association realized from the switch to a2z’s offerings, the intangible benefit of member satisfaction was also evident. “In the board review, the exhibitor management system was the only thing that the board [our retailers and members] applauded,” Bond recounts.