Checking in: Take advantage of free education

Home Editorials Checking in: Take advantage of free education

by Steve Feldman

So you saw the headline on the homepage, right? The one about FCNews sponsoring the 2011 Educational Conference at Surfaces? The conference that for the first time is being offered at no charge to Surfaces attendees? Just in case you missed that point, I’ll repeat it: at no charge. Good. The next thing I want you to do is go on Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz or Kayak and book your flight to Las Vegas. Or try Then find a hotel. You can stay at Luxor, Monte Carlo or New York New York for under $75 a night, including tax. And you won’t have to cab it to Mandalay Bay.

I bet you can attend Surfaces for two days and spend under $500, soup to nuts. And you can write it off as a business expense. Heck, the education sessions alone that you will attend are worth more than that.

Yes, this year you really have no excuse to not attend Surfaces. The cost is not exorbitant. You may find some products and brands that will differentiate you from the guy down the street. You’ll learn a few things by attending as many educational sessions as you can. You’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of show specials offered by many of the 800-plus exhibitors. Michael Goldberg, president of Rite Rug in Columbus, Ohio, said it best a couple of years ago: “I can’t afford NOT to attend Surfaces. I don’t know why more people don’t come. Maybe that’s why so many retailers are going out of business.”

Anyway, take look at the educational topics at “Big Box Retailers: Use Their Strategies to Beat Them at Their Own Game!” “’Branding Your Business Locally, Preparing for the Future,” “The Customer Today and Tomorrow,” and “Lessons from Retail Leaders” are just four of 13 sessions—on the first day alone!

In the weeks ahead we will be talking a lot more about the program and some of the topics in depth. Bottom line: You have no excuse this year to not attend Surfaces and the free educational conference. I’m sure your competitors will, and the last thing you want is for them to gain some knowledge while you’re sitting in your store on a Tuesday afternoon in January hoping a customer walks in the door.

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