With the 9th Digital Dealer Conference fast approaching, it’s never too early to begin preparing for the experience. If you are one of the lucky dealership professionals attending (along with a thousand of your peers), make sure you get everything out of it you need. To do so, start with a plan. Either your ownership or you see this conference as a valuable enough learning institution to spend hard earned dollars for you to attend. So, don’t take it for granted.
Steve Stauning of Kain-Stauning and Pladoogle wrote just last week in his Dealer Communications blog about the five ways to get the most out of the Digital Dealer Conference. It was a great piece and I want to both add to that list and flesh it out a little more.
It is imperative you attend this conference with a list of goals to achieve because I know the bright lights and loud slots of Vegas can get you off course. However, this conference is too important to waste. Again, let me say, you don’t want to take it for granted.
I hear back from attendees often after their trip to a Digital Dealer conference. The first thing their owners and general managers ask is, “What did you learn?” Before you can answer that, you first need to have questions going into the conference. So let’s start planning ahead.
What are you currently missing? What is it you are doing that isn’t generating the dollars that it should?
What technologies are you most interested in exploring? What new skills would you like to come back with?
Once you’ve answered these questions, go to https://digitaldealerconference.com and look at the agenda. Read the descriptions and determine which ones you think will most benefit you and your dealership. Write down a couple for each time slot. There are ten slots with seven sessions each – 70 workshops in total. (There are three general sessions also, one each day.)
After doing this, you’ll want to look at the speaker’s page. Who is giving that session? Are they a practitioner (senior management level from a dealership), a trainer/consultant, or a vendor? Does that matter? Watch the speaker’s video and see who you might connect with most while watching. That is how you can set a game-plan.
For every three sessions you see that involve topics right in your wheelhouse, check one out that you have no involvement with. This type of ‘big picture’ learning can help you grow in the future. Get your own agenda set before the sessions begin so you don’t stand there lost in front of the big agenda board trying to flip a coin as to who to see. In other words, do your homework. You will be thankful you did.
Next, check out the 80 or so exhibitors that will be in attendance. (Just click on the exhibitor tab on www.digitaldealerconference.com and you’ll see the list there.) Surely a few of these have been calling on you for a while asking for a little of your time to view a demo. Why not set it up there? When the hall first opens, go and meet those solutions/companies that have been blowing up your phone. Schedule a specific time for a demo of their product while on-site. (Often, these vendors give special deals if you sign up on-site so having your ducks in a row and planning ahead could save some cash.)
Then visit the booths of those companies you already use. If they aren’t one of the “big boys” in the room, they may be willing to give back for your valued patronage and take you out one evening as a little payback. This is when the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so to speak.
In addition to the sessions and exhibitors, you do not want to miss the Peer Networking Tables that begin and end the conference. You sit at a table with eight of your peers (people from other dealerships) and a moderator. This is a great place to discuss challenges and solutions you may have, as well as picking up new ideas to take back to the dealership. (As a regular moderator of the Networking Roundtable, make sure to track me down.)
Lastly, take notes throughout. Write down every new idea and progressive ideology you can from the sessions and gather all of the detailed info you can from each vendor you speak to. This will save many headaches in the future when you try to remember who offered what service at which price.
So prepare yourself as you would if you were gearing up for a test — especially considering you may be asked to take one when you return. If you plan ahead, you have the chance to come out the smartest person in the class.