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Tim is in Nashville this week. He’s there attending the PRSM conference. (That’s the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association for the uninitiated.) The conference promised “The largest Multi-Site Retail & Restaurant FM Conference with best-in-class education sessions and networking events plus more than 300+ qualified exhibitors all under one roof!” But after the first full day Tim can’t figure out why he is there at all.
To get to the bottom of this he’s convened a secret late night taping of the podcast with his trusty sidekicks Kat Byrne and Anthony Vinzi. The conversation begins with a diagnosis of all that’s wrong with PRSM. For starters Tim and company feel being Canadian has put them at an extreme disadvantage. The conference is almost entirely geared to the American attendees.
“We’re like the orphaned child waiting for the scraps.” Tim says.
The other issue is that there are way more vendors than retailers. The rare retailer that does show up is quickly swarmed by twenty vendors. Kat thinks there is a much different atmosphere at IFMA events. They have a strict no selling policy and the events are much more geared to meeting new people in the industry.
“At PRSM it’s more like vultures.” She says.
Tim thinks the biggest issue is that the PRSM event is only once a year. It’s hard to build a community when you only see each other every twelve months. Tim shares the story of the early days of BOMA twenty years ago. They focused on suppliers and get them to collaborate on issues they shared in common. They also met twice a month religiously. There was only a few dozen members in those early days but that has since grown to thousands.
As the episode wraps up Kat is struggling to justify the $5000 annual fee to be a part of PRSM not to mention the $10 thousand expense of traveling to Nashville. Tim thinks that retailers should be given free memberships and the vendors should have to pay a little more.
“PRSM is dying.” Tim says.
Tim thinks they should take a step back. Meet every month. Get a drink somewhere and start slow.
“Get together the people you should. Make it regular so everyone is friend and it will evolve on it’s own.”