"What's your budget?" - the question no one likes to ask OR answer; PART TWO!

01 EX blog

Note - this is a two-part blog. If you've not read PART ONE yet, click here!

Answering “the budget question” all depends on how much detail you have of what you need, want and can afford. If you know exactly what it is required (because it is simple or have done it before) then you could definitely choose to keep the budget to yourself. The drawback is that you will need to produce a detailed document (or brief) describing what needs doing, possibly with examples. If you do go this route, be aware that designers may be constrained by your level of detail; the more details in your brief the less room for creativity.

On the other hand, if you are not entirely sure about your options or would rather stimulate a creative design process by setting it free, then you should choose the route of providing a ballpark budget or budget range. The reason is simple, you are giving permission to dream but dreams can be expensive. As an example, a cheap car and an expensive car will both take you from A to B, but the experience is going to be very different.

With that in mind, here is a useful tool to help you visualise the kind of budget that you should be considering for your bespoke exhibition stand project. You can click on each image to be taken to a gallery for each 'budget range';

So by now you should have a budget or a 'budget range' in mind, but do you actually want to share that with a potential partner?

Perhaps your reasons to avoid this are just down to a previous bad experience where honesty and trust were betrayed, but please trust that not all companies are the same. Here are a few 'due diligence' activities that you can undertake to help you decide whether or not to trust your potential supplier(s):

• Evaluate the quality of the communication between you and the potential supplier. Have they managed to create a positive rapport with you? Can you get answers when you need them? Are they in the same wavelength than you?

• Check for credentials. In our case we are part of ESSA, our industry association, and they provide additional guarantees to companies working with its members.

• A simple but often forgotten piece advice… get your quote and any subsequent modifications in writing.

• If you have an opportunity, go and visit the supplier premises. Do they have the right setup? Can they live up to their promise?

• These days it’s not that difficult to carry out a credit check, so why not. Imagine finding out that the supplier you selected went bust and can’t deliver your project just days before is due. If you can’t do a credit check, I would suggest you at least ask how long they have been in the market. Although not bullet proof, it is a good sign if they have been through recessions, times of political instability, etc. and are still standing.

• Finally, ask for a portfolio showcasing previous work. It will give you ideas for your project and, at the same time, provide you with the reassurance that they have done it before.

Hopefully you now feel comfortable sharing your budget with a reputable partner, but before we leave we'd like to offer a few final tips for protecting that budget once in the actual operation of designing, building and installing your bespoke exhibition stand;

• Price should reflect quality. 'Should' is the important word here, so be prepared to question quotes and additions/amends throughout the process. For example, a display unit finished with decorative laminate is more expensive than one just emulsion painted. Ask about finishes, be aware of your options and go with what you feel is enough for what you need.

• Look after your budget and invest it where it counts. Most shows and exhibitions only last 2 to 3 days and stands should be manufactured accordingly. If you are building a showroom or a retail point go for lasting materials (e.g. plywood). However, stands have a very tough life as they need to be in and out very quickly (sometimes installation and dismantling lasts only a few hours) hence a cheaper to build and repair construction is what should be used.

• Make yourself available. Particularly with shows and exhibitions, things happen quickly and last-minute changes can be very costly, so make sure that there is someone from your side available to be part of the decision making process.

We hope our advice has helped you avoid your next awkward budget conversation. If you'd like to have that conversation with 01EX then please don't hesitate to get in contact.