I recently participated in a customer service loyalty conference – the FCA MOPAR Parts & Service Conference – and it was wonderful as I watched a sales through service conference break out in front of me.
In my 38 years in the auto industry I have worked on the OEM side, in dealerships and as a vendor and I have truly never seen such a desire to learn from dealers, their managers, vendors and FCA personnel. More than 1,200 attendees gathered over three days to discuss how to acquire new and retain current customers. And over 50% of those attendees were dealer managers and decision makers. As a vendor, it was utter bliss to have all of these decision makers in one room.
The conference was well organized and orchestrated. Dealers and managers came into the vendor area at precisely the right time. The event schedule was clearly geared to give us ample time to discuss our product offerings and the industry in general with dealerships attendees.
Interestingly, the vendor lineup gave dealership attendees clear reasons to individually talk to us at length. The fact that we were able to spend much more time independently with each dealer allowed for more intimate and focused conversations.
Having 600 dealers visit you in a single place is well worth the time and investment. The organizers put a lot of thought into who was allowed to attend as a vendor. In fact, we had little, if any, direct competitors present. The conference organizers also carefully thought out all aspects of marketing and follow up, providing contact information for all of the attendees. This allows us to follow up with not only the attendees we were able to visit with, but also those that we missed.
I would advise other OEMs to follow suit as this event has surely helped FCA dealers. It also placed companies in front of retail people to showcase new technology.
The success of the show, in my opinion, was no accident. Greg Noonan and his staff from Insight Media Enterprises and the folks at FCA seemed to be very deliberate in setting it up this way. The event was very effective and beneficial to all parties attending – dealers, vendors and factory personnel. From the unusually useful program guide (a real novelty!), to the flow of the vendor event space layout and the strategically placed food and drink sessions, the entire event was fantastic. In speaking with dealers and their employees I learned that the forums were very useful and informative. I would have liked to have been allowed to attend these!
Kudos to the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest Business Centers, FCA MOPAR, Greg Noonan and the event planning staff that made this conference what they promised: "The Ultimate Customer Experience.” I can honestly say that, despite visiting Las Vegas 28 times in my career, I’m actually looking forward to returning and attending the West Coast edition of the event!