Are Automotive Conferences Ready To Step Up?
As luck would have it, I have lots of friends and family in the medical community (both human and veterinary medicine; yes, I do have friends). The topic of travel comes up frequently, which leads to discussions regarding different conferences on the horizon (and potential times to get together). Much like retail automotive, there seems to be a medical conference, symposium, or presentation every few weeks. Just like automotive, these events come in all shapes and sizes. In their own way, each event discusses complex issues. Yes, the topics of discussion are completely different, but I’m here to tell you it’s not the content that separates these two industry events. One industry showcases opinions while the other educates with repeatable evidence.
Unlike automotive conferences, those in the medical community get actionable information that they can apply the very next day. They get to see empirical studies presented by licensed and/or board certified experts. The data and procedures are presented in a very transparent manner, giving the attendees all the steps necessary to replicate the desired results. Unless specifically noted, it’s not about a special new CT scanner, a certain brand of scalpel, or a gas spectrum analyzer. It’s all about pushing the attendees field of study forward in a productive manner.
Let’s compare and contrast what happens in my house, after an automotive consultant and a veterinarian attend an average conference in their respective disciplines:
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Frankly, I’m a little jealous. She gets to drive 45 minutes, spend eight hours in a conference hall, be home in time for dinner, and then go to work the next day with new skills. She has the evidence and techniques necessary to positively change her tomorrow. I have to spend thousands of dollars, give up several days of productivity, to spend time with my friends, and take a few notes. I didn’t get to where I am at in life by simply regurgitating what I heard from a paid spokesperson. No, I busted my ass experimenting, winning, failing, creating my own research and empirical evidence. I have to go outside the automotive industry to find what I need for comparison purposes. BUT, I STILL WANT TO LEARN FROM MY PEERS!
A high profile figure in the retail world (who I respect very much) recently warned us to be careful of bogus stats and hidden agendas. As I read their statement, verbatim, I couldn’t agree more. As conference attendees, we need to demand more. All of our conferences should be able to provide us the evidence we need so we can work to repeat those strategies and tactics tomorrow (without requiring any speaker’s company’s technology or services). Every conference session should share replicable strategies, based on empirical studies, to make our businesses more efficient, more productive, and more profitable. Instead of broadcasting opinions, grandstanding celebrity talent, filling the stage, and aggrandizing paid sponsors, every conference should be about case studies and data. FACTS.
Success should not be measured in which conference organizer gains the most clients out of the attendees, but how attendees move the bar higher for the dealer community as a whole. If one conference organizer doesn’t like the data that’s presented at a competing conference, then that organizer should seek better substance (e.g, larger sample sets, more diverse populations, TRANSPARENT survey methodology) to support their position, rather than simply refusing data solely because it disagrees with their long-held beliefs. Don’t be afraid to call out the validity of someone’s data, but only do it when you’ve meticulously gathered your own. Life experience is really a matter of perception. When the battles of opinions (dare I say, egos) are settled with irrefutable evidence, only then is the war truly won.
So, dear reader, I challenge you to fight the status quo. If you cannot implement a new technique or tactic after returning home from a conference, you need to let the organizer know. Voting with your wallet is not enough, and it’s making the problem worse. When a small company like DealerKnows can present information based on 200,000 plus data points, so should a multimillion dollar corporation. We need to be like the medical community, as well as other countless professionals. Demand actionable information. You deserve more.