Starting on Tuesday, Nov. 3, many thousands of people working in the automotive industry will join together in Las Vegas as participants in the AAPEX, SEMA, NACE and CARS shows. Combined, those four acronyms equate to the largest celebration of everything automotive, from hard parts, accessories and paint to tools and equipment and anything else you can imagine that is related to a motor vehicle, plus educational seminars and networking opportunities. And while many people think of these shows as just an opportunity to buy or sell something, it is really much more.
Mitch Schneider wrote last December upon his return from the AAPEX show that, “the show isn’t just about all the cool, cute, physical stuff you can cram in a bag and then drag home. It’s about ideas, information and relationships. More than anything else, it’s about education and communication.”
While show exhibitors invest a lot of money to set up fancy booths to display their new product offerings, they also make a huge investment in personnel. They bring the product managers and sales representatives who can answer your important questions. So I asked some of these people, “Instead of just being asked, ‘What’s new?’ what questions would you like to answer?” Here’s what they said:
· Why should I use your brand rather than the cheaper competitor?
· Who can I contact for technical support? Do you have a tech hotline?
· What can you do to help my shop be more profitable?
· What are the real differences in the lines of products you offer?
· Who carries your product in my area?
· How can I get access to your catalog and how often is it updated?
· What is your warranty policy?
· What training do you offer?
· Is your product made to “OE” specs?
· How does your product line reduce comebacks?
Imagine the value of looking the product manufacturer in the eye and getting to ask those questions. I know you can think of many more questions even ones that “they” don’t want to be asked. Imagine the value of having those answers when you get back to the shop and start contacting your suppliers.
I hope to see you in Las Vegas.
Editor’s Note: This column was originally published in the September issue of Underhood Service magazine.