With moderate temperatures for August, low humidity and a persistant breeze amounted to favorable weather as 108 golfers hit the links Monday morning before the business showcase opened with more than 50 booths from local businesses and service professionals.
Organizers estimate that 400 to 500 people showed up for the organization’s first event of its kind with a steady stream of business representatives filing through the expo speaking with vendors and networking with other professionals.
“It’s about being top of mind. Sometimes people drive by your business every day, but they’re on their way from point A to point B,” said Century Bank Business Development Manager Jennifer Matthews. “This gives people a chance to pause and take time to do their business shopping.”
Among those setting up booths at the country club was Architect Jim Haigler, owner of Haigler Systems. Contractors and professionals often have services to market that most customers don’t think about until they need it. Making contacts before the client realizes that need has been a strategy employed by Haigler and he has secured projects through his networking efforts at Bartow Business and Contractors Connection events.
“I go to about every other one, just depending on what I’ve had going on, but they are a very good place to exchange ideas and meet folks that need your services,” Haigler said. “Architecture is not an impulse buy, but it plants the seed for when people are looking.”
For Heidi Hoyt, owner of YPS — a wholesale distribution company, the free monthly Bartow Business and Contractors Connection events have been a chance to meet other business owners and people from the community.
“I just moved to Bartow in February,” Hoyt said. “And it feels like this is the place I should be. Everyone is so warm and friendly and everyone has been so welcoming.”
She has found that since the economic downturn, word of mouth marketing has changed course making networking a more powerful tool. As businesses compete for fewer customer dollars, consumers have become more conscious of personal service and appreciate one-on-one business dealings.
“Used to, if a customer had a bad experience, they would tell everyone, but if they had a good experience, you were lucky if they told anyone,” Hoyt said. “Now, because the economy is so hard to do business in, if you make one person happy, they tell their friends, they tell their family — they tell everyone.”
With golf teams and expo booths sold out and waiting lists for both in the event’s first year, the Bartow Business and Contractors Connection hopes to continue the event in years to come. For more information or to join the email list, visit www.bartowbusinessconnection.com.