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Gary May

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We're on the cusp again: in the next 90 days we're looking at events including DrivingSales Executive Summit, JD Power Internet Roundtable, Dealer summit, Synergy Sessions, Digital Dealer, Auto Training Events and more.  The more dealers that we hear from, the more we hear the same thing: "show me the beef!!".  What's the message?  Drive value for the industry, especially the dealers, or don't bother inviting me to the same old thing!

Today, more than ever, it's a "what have you done for me lately" world in retail.  Dealers need information, partners, cooperation, support and solid direction.  By the same token, dealers need to get off their duffs and start really using all of their tools.  Not buy more and do the same thing.  Dealerships that move forward will do so because they understand their market, their brand and their opportunities.  Not because a piece of software or the factory will just feed them customers all day long.

Our industry is filled with some great providers, vendors, consultants and leaders.  It's hard to know that when, for the most part, the same ones are featured redundantly wherever you look.  It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that, once you drop your two grand to spend a few days away from the dealership, a true learning and sharing experience is had.  Each session should be compelling for everyone attending and it should lead to change.

Here's a concept: event follow up.  If there's a session on social media and 250 people are in the room, everyone should have a follow up about 10 days later with a brief questionnaire, offer of assistance and a general "to keep on track" message.  Headed up a panel on mobile marketing?  Where's the text message thanking people in attendance a week week after the event with a unique offer with a reminder of best practices?

And here's the hook: the speakers and promoter will do it for no additional fee.  Sorry overpaid (oops, nicely paid) folks, it's time to give back.  Without the dealers in business, it's hard to collect the "non-negotiable" $150-200 per hour.  Ready for another noble concept: the more customers we keep in business, the more customers we'll have.

SImply having a 'next event in the series' because you said you would is no justification for actually having one.  No doubt we all love to network, gallivant about with industry friends and colleagues over pricey dinners and drinks, hit some balls around on a course you don't get to do so normally and plenty of other arguments for the break from reality.

What changes dealership operations over a 60- to 90-day period is really what at stake.  Pushing the needle forward is an absolute necessity right now.  Speakers, vendors and organizers setting the bar, delivering on expectations and then making sure dealers can execute is the only realistic invitation to an industry starved for sales and results.

So will we be looking at one of these nicely-promoted events truly being a conduit for change or only a way from some folks to take home a profit (again) and some 'at a boy's?  The way that we've done things is not the road forward.  That's not the sole responsibility of the event promoters, but it would sure be nice if someone changed the channel...heck, how about changed a lot of minds...

A season of events: let's make sure that people take back more than photos...

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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