Tips for Reducing Installation & Dismantle Labor Costs

May 09, 2017




Many exhibitors budget for designing and building a tradeshow booth.

What isn’t always clear is that there are other areas with exhibiting that will also affect the budget. One of the often overlooked line items is installation & dismantle labor (I&D).  Complicated or large displays require professional set up for safety, efficiency and compliance with local union rules. That said, don’t shortchange yourself and your budget by allowing your I&D labor to do work that you can do yourself.

The set-up and tear-down of your booth can cost more than you anticipate unless you plan accordingly. With costs for union labor charged at overtime and double-time rates, your budget can be blown very quickly. So, while you may not be able to avoid set-up and dismantle fees entirely, there are ways to save money.


Here are a few tips for saving money on I&D labor:


1. Smart booth design can save time and money

Today’s smart booth design incorporates time-saving features that can help you save on I&D costs. Starting with the booth design process, incorporate easy to assemble features and components that lend themselves to quick set-up.  Your exhibit designer can give you some options for building this into the design of your booth to therefore minimize complex booth design that may result in longer assembly time. In most cases, you can even have your graphics applied to your booth before it ships, which helps on labor costs later. Also, keep in mind that when your exhibit house produces your graphics, as opposed to the event contractor, quality will be higher and labor costs will be lower.


2. Understanding union labor rules

Sometimes, you have to pay union labor, and there is no going around it. The first step is to understand how long it will take to assemble and tear down and how local union labor rules may apply. From there you need to know under what circumstances overtime and/or double time comes into play. If you don’t have these two pieces down, your I&D bill can go into the thousands very quickly. Avoiding these costs is key to keeping I&D expenses low. However, you have to plan ahead, as there are often specific rules about what constitutes overtime or double time. It’s a good idea to work with your exhibit company and get an estimate for I&D. Having some facts to work with, you can forecast laborers to work 5-6 hour shifts. Avoid an 8hr shift that may go into overtime. Likewise, get your booth set up during ‘straight time’ hours. For dismantle, see if you can get it torn down the day after the show closes. Most shows end in the afternoon, so starting your dismantle after the show breaks may trigger unnecessary overtime hours.


3. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

The most important step to planning a successful exhibit is preparation, especially when it involves hiring a professional company to perform I&D. There are things you can do to make sure your exhibit goes up smoothly and efficiently, such as ensuring set up instructions are available and easy to understand or calling the show general several days prior to your installation date to ensure your freight arrived safely. When shipping your booth materials directly to the show, be sure to allow for one full day for your freight to be accepted and transported to your booth space – your installation should start the day after the freight delivery has been scheduled. Also, be sure to confirm that any utility lines such as electrical and internet cables are installed correctly prior to starting your install. Creating an installation plan is always a great way to ensure an organized and efficient display installation.


4. Rely on tradeshow services offered by your exhibit company

Many exhibit companies offer exhibit services, which is a big help if you want to be sure things are done on time and in a reliable manner. By allowing them to take over the job of I&D, two things can happen: they have industry partnerships with I&D companies and they know who is reasonable and reliable, and the exhibit agency may be available to oversee the install of your booth to ensure all goes smoothly and the booth is set-up properly and on schedule.
Do you want to explore more cost saving techniques and ideas? Call exhibiTeam to get your questions answered by experts who understand how to avoid unnecessary expenses and help you save money you can use toward a quality trade show display.


Call today for your complimentary design consultation.

Post by Scott Arbogast

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