Friday, November 13, 2009

Got Budget?

As everyone knows, we must have money in the budget or nothing happens. Without it, we cannot add staff to help overworked employees. We cannot buy equipment and supplies nor can we add space to our facilities. Exhibitions become more difficult to complete which certainly makes life more difficult for overworked employees. Worst of all - institutions are having to lay-off those already overworked employees. There is a boatload of sales people hitting the streets harder than ever before trying to get a share of your ever-decreasing budget.

How are we to deal with this “budget problem”? Well, usually the first thing you would think to do is cut costs. But cutting costs can come at a price when service suffers and value you receive for your investment decreases. What you are really looking for is the optimal fit between service and price. When part of your job is to arrange transportation for exhibitions, there are a number of ways you can optimize the value you receive for your investment.

Here are some things to consider that could help your budget:

• Does the entire shipment need climate control service, or can the “non-object” items travel in a less expensive environment?
• Paying for dual driver service can be very expensive. Does the exhibition schedule allow for the objects to travel with dual drivers and the “non-object” pieces to arrive at a slightly later date?
• Can you deck any part of the exhibition? Decking is a service where you create a second floor above the lower level of items on a van. This is accomplished with bars that are attached to the wall of the trailer. This allows use of the space above the floor-loaded pieces without stacking directly on an object or object crate. This does sometimes require a forklift to load and unload. If a forklift is not available at origin and destination then this might not be a viable option, but some items are small and light enough to be decked by hand and decking could then be an option.
• When you have a gap in the schedule and the last venue before the break is many miles away, consider storage at a local fine art facility. Most major markets have established fine art service companies that can provide exhibition quality storage. This will sometimes save the cost of bringing the exhibition back across country to be stored at your facility.
• Consider using non-climate controlled storage for the non-artifact portion of the exhibition. Quite often the cost savings of using non-climate controlled storage outweighs the cost of an extra delivery and pickup for using a second facility. Sometimes the climate facility you are planning to use also has a non-climate controlled portion of their facility that may cost less.

These are just a few ideas to consider when trying to save money. As you know, every exhibition and every logistical situation is different. There is usually a good reason for being the cheapest guy on the block. Sometimes choosing a service provider with a better understanding of how to maximize the value you receive for your investment is the best way to deal with a over-stressed budget.

I know…this all seems like it is self serving considering that I am in the exhibition transportation business. The real issue is providing a valuable, safe, quality service that can come in under budget. The pros in this business can help you do this without causing you service nightmares. The guy that jumps at lowering his price to get your business needs to be considered carefully.