Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How This U.S. Window Cleaning Convention Became HUGE

This window cleaning convention is a HUGE success in the USA. A labor of love started by Chris Lambrinides & Thad Eckhoff.
Countdown to the Window Cleaners Event of the Century: Why did we start The HUGE Convention for window cleaners? Chris Lambrinides talks candidly about why Thad & himself made the journey to create the biggest window cleaning convention in the United States.

My First Convention
I started my window cleaning & pressure washing business in late September 1999. I spent my days working at beautiful houses thinking about building a large business. I pictured having 50 employees. A big shop space and a full office staff dispatching window cleaners all across our county. Working alone gives you a lot of time to think big and daydream.

It seemed like an impossible dream until I attended my first industry convention. In February 2003, I attended my first conference in Atlanta Georgia. I was broke as a joke and had no business trying to justify a such an expense. I had a good feeling about it though and decided to go. As I look back attending this particular conference is one of the best business decisions I ever made. The experience was so great it was almost magical! It wasn’t something specific that I had heard or learned there that made it so great. Rather it was a culmination of things that came together to make such a great experience.

It opened my eyes to what was possible. For the first time, I got to talk to 200 other people that did the same thing I did every day. It wasn’t the classes or the trade show, it was just hanging around and talking shop with my peers. I met guys that were exactly where I wanted to be. There were actually other people out there that were doing what I had been dreaming about. My dream was possible! I went home implemented a lot of what I had learned and everything in my business immediately changed.

The Decline
Over the years, unfortunately, the conventions started to decline. With the advent of online forums, window cleaners didn’t need to attend anymore. They could find out about all the new tools and information with a couple of clicks. Instead of making an annual trip to a far off part of the country, they could get everything they needed from home.

Complacency also played a role in the decline. A board of volunteers detached from our industry follow a formula and put it together year after year. It gets put together quickly, and they accept almost anyone that’s interested in speaking.

You can’t fault the volunteers because they are just that. They are only volunteers! Busy running their businesses, they don’t have the time to put together a great event. The bare amount of effort gets put in, and a mediocre event is the result. Because of these two factors attendance has cut in half over the years.

Building Our Own Convention
For the past five years my partner, Thad Eckhoff had been putting together a networking event. NOLA was its name, a small and intimate event that saw about 75 attendees each year. I attended my first one in 2010, and it blow me away. For the first time in years, there was a great event. The magic was back!

Thad worked all year to put together an incredible list of industry speakers. They spoke on business topics and took the time to interact with the audience. They didn’t talk about equipment, techniques or the latest gear. They spoke with authority on solid business building topics. Real tangible stuff you could learn about and implement in your business right way.

The whole trick to why this worked is he only invited presenters that he personally wanted to hear. He wanted to learn something as well. The bar was set high and there was no fluff. If they weren’t great, they weren’t invited to speak.

Click to enlarge.
Year 1
We set off to replicate the small exclusive networking feel from NOLA in a larger environment. In 2013, we had our first annual convention in Nashville Tennessee. We wanted to see what would happen if we focused all year on putting together one incredible event. How amazing could we make it?

We spent months attempting to put together the perfect event. Speakers were cultivated and vetted. For the trade show, we only invited the best most reputable vendors. Extreme attention was given to every detail. We sourced industry veterans, with real business expertise and professional speaking abilities.

Our first event went off without a hitch, and the reviews were phenomenal. The 250 attendee contractors that attended raved about the experience. The common thread in all the reviews was how much they had gained by attending.

History was made on August 23, 24 2013 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Not only was this the scene of the first annual convention and trade show of the Pressure Washing Resource Association (PWRA) but it was the most-attended pressure washing convention of the decade!

Around 100 attendees were expected. The final attendance ended up at 224 contractors plus 49 vendors manning 22 trade show exhibits. The excitement was palpable as people just kept filling with more and more people ready to learn how to grow their businesses. Read more.

Due to popular demand the Pressure Washing Resource Association returned to the Gaylord Opryland on August 8,9 2014- this time for a joint convention with the Window Cleaning Resource Association. Once again rooms ran in short supply as the expected 250 contractors turned into 387. Accommodations were secured across the street at The Inn at Opryland, also a Gaylord hotel, and everyone had a place to stay for the big show. Trade show space and meeting space was doubled from 2013, and every square inch of it was filled with education and product displays. Read more.

In 2015, the juggernaut that was the PWRA/WCRA Convention reached the next level. It officially became The HUGE Convention. The location moved to the Gaylord National in Fort Washington, Maryland in the Greater Washington DC area. National Harbor is a destination in and of itself with over 150 shops and boutiques, 30+ dining destinations, and waterfront activities such as boating, movies, and live music

The change of venue proved to be a fortuitous move. Instead of the 400 contractors that were expected and prepared for, last minute ticket sales (including many at the door!) put the number of contractor attendees at a record-breaking 507 “behinds in seats”. The main room was set for 500 but with the 150+ vendors present something had to give.

The keynote address was given by business coach and bestselling author Howard Partridge. “Stop Being a Slave To Your Business” was riveting for all in attendance, contractor and vendor alike. He literally had the crowd on its feet as he rearranged 500+ people to physically demonstrate the four basic personality traits of the DISC system and how they interacted with each other.

The trade show opened at 1 pm and it was packed until 7 pm when we had to turn the lights off and lock the doors. Several vendors mentioned that they had never had sales like this at any show in their history of doing industry trade shows. The first round of prizes and giveaways ended with a BANG!

It will be hard to top 2015's record-breaking show, but TheHugeConvention.com will be back at the Gaylord National in Maryland on August 12, 13 to make a run for the gold again! Get your tickets 

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