I’M pretty sure I know when it hit me. It was roughly on day two after an artery-clogging breakfast of over-easy eggs (they’re runny, if you didn’t know), brown toast, corned beef hash and pancakes (what’s that all about?).
No, I’m not talking a stroke – although I’m pretty sure that was about a rasher away – I’m talking about the moment of realisation that the NADA Convention and Expo I’d heard so much about from dealers and manufacturers that have attended over the years was in fact A Kind Of A Big Deal.
Operations director Andy and I made the trip to San Francisco in January (much to our wives’ disgust) to visit the huge American dealer showcase with the hope of learning a few tricks for our event in the summer. We knew there was a major gap in the market on this side of the pond for a similar-style conference, but we wanted to see how the best of its type was run. We raised the bar in 2014 with our Car Dealer Conference – in fact, one UK supplier I met while strolling the NADA halls described it as the ‘best event of its type in the UK’ – so we were obviously doing something right. But we wanted to be better.
You may remember last year we had speeches from Kia, Google and Microsoft at the Rockingham-based conference and 40 stands for dealers to visit. Some 500 dealers attended and it was a solid base for what was to follow.
However, what we learned in the States was how to shape our event to make it work even harder for the attending dealers. Not only does our event have to have a packed expo full of suppliers that dealers can chat to and do business with, but it needs to offer real education to those who have taken time out of their busy days to attend.
That’s why – to coin a brilliant phrase from a not-so-brilliant leader – ‘education, education, education’ will be at the absolute core of our event. We know suppliers are there to do business – and Car Dealer’s job is about putting you, our loyal readers, in front of the fantastic suppliers who make it possible for us to publish this serial award-winning magazine every month.
However, we also realise no-one likes to be blatantly sold to. That’s why this year’s Car Dealer Conference & Automotive Expo has been designed to offer a huge number of opportunities to learn new things. You’ll buy into their brand if what they say is genuinely useful.
Again, inspired by NADA, we have decided to introduce a number of Workshop Sessions at this year’s event. We will put experts from their respective fields in front of you to tell you how to get the best out of your website, your advertising or your social media plan. These experts will educate you about the latest legal issues, too, and the common scams that are catching out dealers across the country.
But that’s not all. We’ve also signed up some inspiring speakers to inform and enthuse you and your team. There’s Ken Ramirez, managing director of Renault Dacia, who will explain how his firm launched the budget brand Dacia in the UK to critical acclaim and he’ll explain what you can learn from it. We’ve also persuaded leading motoring journalist Steve Fowler – editor-in-chief of Auto Express and Car Buyer – to give a keynote speech on what consumers really want from dealers. Every year the best-selling weekly car magazine surveys 30,000 car buyers, so if anyone knows what your punters want, it’s this man.
I’m also delighted to announce we’ll have an expert from Twitter with us, too. She will be taking part in an exclusive Q&A session with the Top 150 Dealers On Twitter, which we’ll be announcing exclusively at the Conference, and she will host a best-practice Workshop Session too.
One part I’m really excited – if a little nervous – about is a unique Q&A panel session that I’ll be hosting. I’ve managed to sign up Ken Savage (Perrys), John Tordoff (JCT600) and John O’Hanlon (Ridgeway) who will be joined by one more dealer boss on a panel where they’ll talk about topics prevalent to the industry. These dealer bosses have decided to bring with them more than 50 of their respective teams to enjoy the day – and their support for this event is truly appreciated. We’ll be holding a similar panel with manufacturer bosses too, but I’m still working on those.
What is really inspiring is the support and goodwill we’ve had from everyone. We’re extremely enthusiastic about putting on an event that works for dealers, works for suppliers and that the UK automotive industry can be truly proud of. And it appears everyone supports that.
We can’t do that without your support, though. We want as many people to attend as possible. We want as many suppliers showcasing their wares as we can find. And we want to make this THE destination for UK car dealers to learn something new for years to come. It’s completely free to attend, it’s at Silverstone on June 9 and I do hope you can support Car Dealer and me in making this event the success the motor trade in the UK truly deserves.
Tickets for the Car Dealer Conference & Automotive Expo are FREE for dealers and manufacturers and can be booked by following this link.
If you’d like to exhibit at the event in the Expo, please contact (023) 9252 2434 to find out how you can be a part of this key event for the UK automotive industry.
Conference: The full details
Conference: Twitter to hold workshop session
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