Loyalty Matters

By: Alan Craner and Andy Pearce, co-directors, Exhibit 3Sixty

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Like many event suppliers that have survived the last two years of pandemic and lockdowns, Exhibit 3Sixty has diversified, adapted and hedged its way through the crisis, and now with the exhibition economy firing on at least 3 cylinders MDs Alan Craner and Andy Pearce are discovering their focus on loyalty to their suppliers and customers has been its own reward.

“One of the reasons we started our own company 13 years ago was because we believed we could deliver more by building relationships of trust and friendship with every supplier and customer we dealt with,” said Craner. “Over the years these relationships have become fixtures in our working lives, and we regularly collaborate together to resolve issues before they become problems.”

Pearce added “Honesty and transparency are the two simplest things we use to build relationships. It means never overpromising or overcommitting, which entails a huge amount of meticulous and detailed planning together with our suppliers and clients. And it makes perfect commercial sense. When the pandemic hit, and lockdowns put the event industry in a coma, it was the relationships that we had built that enabled us to diversify and get the materials we needed to do so. We took every plausible opportunity we could to work, order from our suppliers and deliver to our customers, and they all did the same.

“The welfare of our suppliers is just as big a concern as that of our customers – so when the lockdown hit we didn’t lose touch with any of them. We communicated even more if anything, and we were able to put our heads together and create enough work to keep things bubbling.

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“The lockdowns obviously shut down all our exhibition work, but one of our exhibition customers was able to use us for multiple shopfitting jobs, which led to us opening a small showroom next door – which has, in turn, led to an entirely new business taking flight. Another customer asked us to put together small scale hospitality exhibitions, including one at Wembley Stadium the day before England lost to Italy at the UEFA 2000. These were lifelines for us,” concluded Pearce.

Craner summed his feelings up, saying “Loyalty matters. We were able to protect a length of the supply chain from the worst effects of the pandemic thanks to the friendships and open channels of communication we have with our partners inside and outside the industry. As a result, we’re able to hit the ground running, now that exhibitions and events are reopening. Where some exhibitors are struggling to find stand-builders, our customers are secure; where some stand builders are struggling to source reasonably priced raw materials, we are not.”

A cut-throat attitude to customers and suppliers will yield better margins and profits when exhibitions and events are booming – but as many businesses discovered during the pandemic, with trusted friends for customers and suppliers, you collectively build resilience that can withstand even the most extreme economic shock.

Rebecca Dixon
Author: Rebecca Dixon

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