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For the sixth year in a row, DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES) sold out to an enthusiastic and progressive-minded audience. With the Bellagio Hotel as our venue, we were all treated to an impressive main stage, plenty of space, and exquisite food catering—and, of course, the most advanced content in the industry!
We began the conference earlier than ever before, kicking off at 1:30pm on Sunday, October 12th—and that's not considering our Canadian breakout session sponsored by e-Dealer, Glovebox, and SCI Marketview that started at 8:30am or the Cox Automotive brunch and panel presentation that commenced at 10:30am. DSES indeed had a packed schedule!
And then, the audience was shown the 2014 DSES Kickoff Video:
Introduced by event emcee, Charlie Volgleheim, the founder and CEO of DrivingSales, Jared Hamilton, provided a high-level overview of Executive Summit, what the attendees could expect from the conference, and a brief look at the auto industry as a whole. It was a great segue into the first keynote, Florian Zettelmeyer, and his presentation on what dealership executives should understand about data science.
His message was based on three key points:
Next up we had the DrivingSales Best Idea Competition, and we must say that each finalist brought an inventive concept to the stage and all deserve recognition.
But as in all competitions, there can be only one winner. And for the second year in a row, Robert Karbaum took home the large trophy. Congratulations, Robert!
After a quick break, attendees joined together in various conference rooms for the first breakout sessions. This year, due to the feedback we received from attendees last year, we had our largest breakout speaker lineup yet with over 30 sessions. From advanced general marketing and dealership operations to search and mobile, our breakout speakers covered a multitude of valuable information that will help dealers.
Soon after the breakout sessions ended, Jared sat down with Jonathan Ord, CEO at DealerSocket, and Mitch Golub, president at Cars.com, for a fireside chat.
Lastly, keynote Brian Solis concluded the first day of the conference with how to build better costumer relationships by embracing technology and innovation. A few key items from Brian's message included:
Lastly, attendees mingled at our reception sponsored by Cars.com, Dealertrack, and Gubagoo and Solis' book signing event. It was a very full day and a great way to start DSES!
Bright and early at 9:00am, Charlie welcomed DSES attendees and introduced keynote Mike Hudson who presented on how to capture connected consumers and taking control of the sales funnel. Mike shared some interesting data:
After a brief rotation break, we had six breakout speaker sessions for attendees to choose from. We received a lot of great feedback on each breakout session through our DSES app, and we appreciate the time it took for participants to fill out the quick surveys. DrivingSales takes your opinions and advice seriously and we will use the data to further improve our format and content.
When the breakout sessions ended, we all met back in the main ballroom for another fireside chat with Jared, Steven Anenen, CEO at CDK Global, and Malcolm Thorne, CSO at CDK Global.
The fireside was followed by keynote Adam Justis' presentation on customer-centric, integrated marketing in a digital world. A few key insights:
Adam was followed by keynote Jack Simmons and his presentation on how to rescue service profits through trust and price transparency. Some key takeaways included:
After our delicious lunch sponsored by FORCE Marketing, we had our finalists from the DrivingSales Innovation Cup Contest share their innovative solutions to the audience:
Finalists introduced a fantastic product, and we're grateful for their participation. When it was all said and done, judges voted for NewCarIQ from Pearl Technology Holdings, LLC. Congratulations, NewCarIQ!
Next, Jared took the main stage and delivered his long-awaited keynote presentation: Prepare Your Dealership for the Next Chapter in Automotive Retailing: Competing on Customer Experience. Jared shared exclusive research on how customers actually feel when they deal with various dealership employees and the findings were eye opening:
Jared left the audience wanting more, and he stated that there's additional upcoming data that will soon change the industry.
After a few more breaks and two excellent breakout sessions that featured 13 speakers total, attendees were treated to keynote Rand Fishkin who presented search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to love vs. leave for 2015. With his usual effectual delivery, Rand delighted the crowd with new techniques and approaches for dealerships to consider in their digital marketing plans.
We ended the day with a reception sponsored by AutoTrader.com, vAuto, Kelley Blue Book, Vin Solutions, Manheim, and MakeMyDeal and an after party at The Bank Nightclub at the Bellagio sponsored by Dealer.com. Good times were had for all at these two gatherings.
At the end of our breakfast, sponsored by NADA 20 Group, Charlie commenced the award ceremony for the aforementioned Best Idea winner and finalists—handing out over-sized checks to all—and the Innovation Cup winner and finalists. And congratulations once again to our 2014 finalists and winners! We can't wait for what everyone will have in store for next year.
Next on the agenda was our fourth annual digital media debate, moderated by Joe Webb, president of DealerKnows Consulting. Each participant provided a well-constructed argument on their topics, and attendees were able to listen to some lively discussion on various topics, such as lead providers: organic vs. third-party; mobile websites: adaptive vs. responsive; and pricing structure: negotiable vs. one price.
Thank you again to the debaters for their participation and contribution:
Everyone then attended the last breakout session that featured six great speakers, and reconvened in the great ballroom for our concluding keynote Bryan Eisenberg, who presented great insight into creating legendary dealership brands and explaining his business process to align metrics, customer experience, and profit. A few points from his message include:
This year we had a deep and impressive lineup of keynote and breakout speakers and feel that attendees were treated to an info-packed conference. Our hope is that each dealership in attendance will apply the innovative insights and techniques they learned during the conference and raise the industry to new levels.
Thank you to everyone who attended, participated, and helped with DSES 2014 and we look forward to seeing everyone next year!