Learn from the Pros
Published 21st July 2014
With age comes experience and wisdom. Established exhibitors at the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF)
very much represent the wise, although they are not necessarily old. Here are some pointers for the young entrants,
rookies and newbies alike. Taking to heart from those who have gone down the road and back could spell the
difference between success and failure.
Each experienced exhibitor has a unique story to tell that might vary in degrees of hardship and struggle, but
they all once upon a time started from scratch at the furniture show. Melvin Chay, business development
manager at Euro Chairs Manufacturer, remembers how much of an amateur the company was as one of MIFF’s
very first exhibitors some 20 years ago. Mind you, the company has been in the business since 1976, almost
two decades before MIFF was founded. But that first day, according to Mr. Chay, they were like fish out of water.
“We focused on the pricing of the products,”
Mr. Chay said. “We thought that customers would buy the products because of it. But we later realised that
although it’s still one of the key points, [pricing] is not the only [important] thing.” Mr. Chay and his team,
eventually learned to strategise in succeeding MIFF shows, focusing on introducing what the company is all
about first before telling customers about their products and their usage. “We learned not to focus too much
on pricing, not to give them out during the exhibition,” he shared. Euro Chairs improved on their designs
each year as well. Their recent products, for instance, have become simpler, focusing a lot on usage, practicality,
and of course, creative pricing. If you look at the products being displayed now compared to 10 to 15 years ago,
they’re very different.
“We have to be sensitive with the trends worldwide like environment and technology,” Mr. Chay said.
Similarly, Thomas Lim, CEO at Hin Lim Furniture, had some reality check the first time he joined MIFF about 16
years ago. “We were immature in many ways [when we started]. The way we displayed the items, the staff
uniforms, the forms, the invoices… everything was a mess,” Mr. Lim said.
Mr. Lim added that due to their inexperience in exhibition at that time, Hin Lim Furniture, then already 21 years old
as a company, was giving all the wrong impressions to customers–from the pricing to the costing and expectations.
“Slowly, we learned how to make catalogues and how to present ourselves. We learned to approach customers, how
to identify the genuine customers from the not-so-genuine,” Mr. Lim said.
According to the Euro Chairs executive, technology, especially the arrival of social networking sites like Facebook
and Twitter, has changed the way people do business now. It will be futile to ignore the very thing that’s shaking
up everyone. “People like to share on these technologies,” He said. Thinking out of the box and into the future
is another way of standing out at MIFF. “Invest in developing new products,” Mr. Chay said. “People might not use
the products now but in the future they probably will. Always look at the future.” Nearing 40, Euro Chairs is now
present in 63 countries around the globe. Meanwhile, Mr. Lim said having a good, creative team at the company’s
core is important in attracting customers.
The Hin Lim CEO advises new exhibitors
to look at what others are doing and treat every day as a new day. “Critically look at everyday results,” he
emphasised. ”The show is very dynamic. Keep track [of what’s going on around you], evaluate and change
strategy [if you have to].” Mr. Chay advocates patience.
“The results will not be seen immediately,” Mr. Chay said. “Be positive, be creative, be patient come up with
good ideas then you will succeed.” He adds: MIFF is a good platform to introduce young companies and their
products to the worldwide audience. “We get buyers from around the world; that’s why until now we are here.
It is improving every year— from the turnout to the quality of buyers,” Mr. Chay said.