When I made the transition from the OEM world to retail, consumers were beginning to use the internet as a shopping tool, Apple’s stock was below $100, gas was still pretty cheap, and most used car managers operated more like the Wizard of Oz than with the level of sophistication they do today. The business really hadn’t changed much prior to the early part of the 21st century. But from the mid 2000s on, our industry has seen dramatic change each and every year.
A multitude of factors are compressing traditional dealership profit centers and are forcing dealers to constantly adapt their business to take advantage of these new facts of life. These factors include new compliance requirements, technology adoption, the advent of social media, and the democratization of information previously closely guarded. In order to stay on top of these changes, dealers must embrace opportunities to gain knowledge in industry practices and afford their staff the same.
Fortunately for dealers there are a host of conferences that provide a wide variety of content, format and chance to meet vendors and peers. The granddaddy of course is the annual NADA Convention. But, others such as AutoCon, Digital Dealer and the Driving Sales Executive Summit, to name a few, have either sprung on the scene this year or have steadily grown over time. So, the question is, with so many conferences, which is the right one to attend?
Don’t let a wide selection of opportunities lead to inaction or information overload. Challenge yourself to attend at least one conference where you can learn best practices and network with peers. Read up on what each conference offers and see what best fits your schedule. Of course, consider the location of each and how much time you will be out of the store in order to attend.
A former boss once told me that a meeting was worth the time away from the store if I could at least learn one new thing that I could implement at the dealership, which would lead to increased sales, share, net profit, employee efficiency, etc. If you can take away a few things from one conference a year and implement them at your store, you’ll stay steps ahead of your competitors and keep your business growing.
Image Courtesy of NADA via Flickr