Yes, it’s expo season. Like many lenders, we’re on the road. Pitching up at hotels, sports grounds and other venues, we arrive with high expectations and leave thinking some were great, some mediocre and some could be much better.
The differences between a great expo and an unrewarding one are stark. Lenders, charged thousands to attend, are sometimes unsure if our presence is fully utllised by clubs and networks.
The worst expos could learn a lot from the best. It works for everyone if expos are a more valuable investment of time and money for lenders and delegates. It would encourage lenders to do more, more often. Complacency on the part of organisers will deter lenders, particularly smaller ones.
What does an excellent expo look like?
For a recent expo (*I’ll tell you whose it was at the end of the article), we were sent the delegate list in advance and were delighted to see that some brokers we had wanted to visit would be there – normally our resources would not lend themselves to being able to visit them all in person.
The network also set us up with six confirmed 15 minute appointments during the day. We sent two BDMs and got real value for money. The network encouraged people to come to our stand and with the advance work we had done we were able to speak to all the brokers we had identified as being potentially compatible with our proposition. We will definitely support its next expo.
Signs of a less valuable expo (I won’t tell you which this one was) are: no delegate list; no introductions; poor placement; few attendees; and exhibiting time restricted to during lunch or coffee breaks only. By our calculations less than one third of the brokers attending visited our stand, which is a shame.
Having the delegate list in advance is top of our wishlist. It provides an opportunity to prepare, to maximise the limited time available. We can research which brokers are particularly compatible with our proposition, maybe contact them in advance to let them know we’ll be there or give them a shout out on social media.
We can check our records to see if they’ve submitted a case or an enquiry recently, refresh our memory of what they look like if we’ve already met them – basically, tailor the experience for the broker.
When lenders find it difficult to measure the impact of taking a stand at an expo, it leaves a question mark over their future participation. Attending expos is the biggest single investment we make in such activity and we need them to be productive more consistently.
When it’s good, it’s very good. Seeing 50 people face to face in one day represents great value for money. But when it’s not so good, we can feel advantage is being taken of us. We don’t want to feel like cash cows for these events, there needs to be mutual value.
Clubs and networks could also help their members, and their lenders, by thinking beyond the traditional expo. Simply Biz comes up with all sorts of initiatives to put brokers and lenders in touch – last year it organised an event with us, Ipswich, Newcastle and Newbury building societies where each of one us hosted an event at our own HQ and Simply Biz arranged for around 15 local brokers to attend each one. We’ve had quite a lot of business on the back of this and the brokers’ feedback was excellent.
It’s not good for the market, or customers, if intermediaries stick to the same high street lenders for every application. Clubs and networks should be combating inertia by doing whatever they can to connect intermediaries to more lenders, including at expos.
*A big shout out to Mortgage Intelligence for its excellent expo.
Carolyn Thornley-Yates, Head of Intermediary Sales, Hinckley & Rugby Building Society.