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David Gretzmier
07-26-2009, 02:48 AM
Just got back from the HBL member convention and thought I'd share with you a few thoughts that bode well for the upcoming season if my main supplier is any indication.

1.- very well attended. everyone from last year and several new members, along with some folks that missed last year. this seems to indicate folks are doing well enough in thier business to travel and take off a few days. the economy may be getting better at the small business end.

2- people were mentioning some early sales already from existing and referred customers, myself included. indicative of the wealthy beginning to spend again.

3.- virtually no wholesale price increase from last year, and some items cost less. From HBL this is unheard of, as there have been signifigant price increases in each of the past 3 years, many items jumping by 15% or more in a single year. Most other vendors have held the line on prices the past few years. To be fair, steel, copper, oil and the Yuan/dollar ratio have all made things more expensive over the past few years. I just hate paying it and passing it on. This year all of those items are better than last year.

4. New product. HBL continues to innovate and offer new things that keep the product line fresh. The multiple size canvas indoor/outdoor gift boxes are a great example. UV coated, tough, beautiful, I predict selling 3-6 sets of those this year minimum. expensive but impressive.

5. the catalog. This thing takes HBL to the highest level of any Christmas distributor. thick ( 150 pages? ), heavy, gorgeous cover and feel, it immediately will impress any client that you are serious about this gig. This item alone will sell me 5000-10000 additional bucks in items compared to catalogs past. I have to pay 5 bucks each for those babies, and I plan to give out at least 200. worth it? you bet.

6. website- HBL is setting up a webpage for each member with photos, links, email, withing the HBL site. you can link back to your website. awesome.

7-members helping members-getting a chance to talk with other HBL members leads to solving problems in this business, and this convention was a gangbuster. Advertising, employee training, rules and regs, incetives, paperwork, efficiency, safety, showrooms, sales, prices. I picked everyones
brain and came away with much shared wisdom.

there are some things about HBL I did not like or was frustrated by, and they allow us to air alot of that out at convention. I always feel as though when I gripe about something, nothing changes. but when 5 members gripe about it, at least they think about changing something, and appear to care. but that is for another post. I'm fair, and overall the HBL convention was absolutely worth my time. I reccomend anyone thinking of buying from HBL to consider convention as an asset to your membership.

addictedtolandscaping
07-26-2009, 09:49 AM
Really happy to hear that you found it so well, wish we could have been able to be there, it would have answered so many more questions.

That catalog is absolutely amazing, Mike showed it to us at the June training class, it is almost like you are providing the customer with a gift, the pictures are awesome, and it is absolutely huge, without doubt, coupled with the sales kit - (two me and a boy to carry all the samples into a customer) should really help. I made sure to get the items that you suggested for sales calls as well. I am really getting revved up about getting going, am so glad I have read so much here and as usual can not thank you, hokie, Hotrod for all the answers to the hundreds if not thousands of questions I have bombarded you guys with.

I am really anxious to see what the new product lines are going to be, we are definitely planning on going to next years convention, I would have loved to be at this one, I have always been a bit of a space enthusiast.

Am planning on talking with Mike the beginning of this week to get the direct mail campaign hammered out, and will probably order the remainder of the product that he suggested having on hand.

Was there any info passed on as to when the apparel was going to be ordered or the orders that were placed from members shipped?? Though it is a small portion of the marketing, we ordered a bunch of stuff when we got back out of the marketing catalog to ensure that we were starting to market in some fashion, Mike is going to forward some business card templates to us to get them printed and distributed as well.

Any how, thanks for the feed back on the convention, I was hoping to read something from you on it when I saw you were headed there. The positive feed back just reinforces to me that we made the right choice for this venture.

Thanks again

David Gretzmier
07-26-2009, 06:05 PM
They talked about the uniforms briefly and had a table set up. I would also hunt around on the internet and ebay for some deals on uniforms. HBL basically subs that stuff out, and you can get the Logo stuff from mike and have anyone do it. I don't think they make anything off of the uniforms, they just want you to look good.

addictedtolandscaping
07-26-2009, 06:35 PM
That was my thought appearance is absolutely key as far as I am concerned. I haven't been able to come up with anything close to the prices in the catalog they gave us, but without doubt, the jackets will not cut it here.

David Gretzmier
07-28-2009, 12:22 AM
You can usually find some good used car hart blizzard canvas hoodies on ebay. they are good down to 10 degrees or so with polypropelene long johns.

addictedtolandscaping
07-28-2009, 08:02 AM
Thanks for the information, gonna check right now. THen once I have the templtes that should save a bunch and be comfortable too.

Thanks Dave!

David Gretzmier
07-28-2009, 12:04 PM
I googled duck hooded and found several clearance type sites that have the carhart type duck canvas jackets, insulated and hooded for around 30 bucks. I ordered a few to go with the 5 or so I have left from the last few years. This year I am going to charge guys 80 bucks on thier last check if they do not turn in thier jackets and shirts. I spend around 800 bucks each year, the shirts tend to wear out, and these are temp guys, so I should have more jackets than what I have on hand.

addictedtolandscaping
07-28-2009, 01:09 PM
That is a great idea, not sure it covers what you end up having in them, but recovering something is better than losing everything. It seems up here everything is so expensive. I was shocked that the cost of having studio 8 do my enclosed trailer (create the graphics that is) was gonig to only be roughly 1400. I spoke with the company I usually use, and they wanted 3500. I was supposed to have the design 2 weeks prior to the June class, they called when we were at the airport in Omaha, and to this day still nothing. It totally blows my mind how much they want to charge, everything in general, and then they don;t follow through. I got to say, it is without a doubt a really hard year here, I am really banking on the "WOW" factor when people are exposed to this idea and hoping that I will generate 30k any how, to tell the truth and I mentioned this to Mike and he kind of thought I was insane, but I would be content with 5 customers, atleast then I would know for sure I was on the right track, and then as I have read things just get better from there. We brought in a fair amount of extra material besides the membership material, and are planning on a but more yet,. I was loking over the website this am, and saw that some of the updates have been done so far, no p[ics and the static sites are still pending, but there are changes and locations for new items such as the gift boxes you mentioned.

David Gretzmier
07-28-2009, 11:38 PM
I'm going to try this on each side of my 16 foot box van, smooth fiberglass, but rivets on my aluminum boxvan are a challenge, ebay.com# -180334436679