5 Can’t-Miss Auto Dealer Events in 2016

The summer and fall of 2016 will be full of big events and trends for automotive dealers. From Tesla’s unveiling of its Model 3 to record-low gas prices, it’s more important than ever for dealers to stay on top of everything happening within the industry.

That’s especially true of the online space, where innovation is happening faster than almost anywhere else. For both experienced and new dealers, there’s a lot to learn, from basic online marketing and how to use social media to getting familiar with surety bond definitions and requirements.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great upcoming dealer events that combine networking, inspirational talks, practical workshops, and maybe even the chance to relax a bit in the sunshine. Here are the top five upcoming auto dealer events to attend this year if you want to stay on top of online, industry, and tech trends.

1. NIADA Convention and Expo, June 13–16, Las Vegas, Nevada

This is an all-around excellent event that covers nearly all of the challenges auto dealers face, particularly if you missed the NIADA Convention in March. Workshops will get into the practical side of compliance issues facing dealerships around the country, something particularly useful for owners or general managers.

In addition, several days of breakout sessions will be devoted to sales techniques from professionals with on-the-ground experience at dealerships, as well as online sales specialists from sites like eBay. Frankly, if there’s one event to take your entire team to this year, this is it. Website

2. Automotive Customer Centricity Summit, June 21, Marina del Rey, California

This event and the Automotive Social & Innovative Tech summit that’s next on our list are connected events held back-to-back this June, put on by Thought Leadership Summits (TLS). If you’re attending one, you can easily attend the other.

The first event’s focus on customer experience makes it critical for any auto dealer looking to appeal to changing buyers’ habits and expectations.

In a world where instant information is available on anyone’s smartphone, dealers need to think harder than ever about how to provide a high-quality customer experience. That’s why this event will explore ways to improve both online and in-store experiences.

If you’re looking to improve your customers’ online shopping experience in particular, the June 22nd summit will go into even more detail. Website

3. Automotive Social & Innovative Tech Summit, June 22, Marina del Rey, California

Focusing on how tools like social media management are allowing dealerships to do everything from building their brand image to cultivating leads, this event is not to be missed. Other workshops will focus on topics like millennials’ impact on retail models and leveraging Facebook to connect with customers on mobile devices.

Any dealer working today should understand that trying to operate without a coherent social media and customer experience strategy is a losing proposition. These dual events help you build both, while also connecting with your contemporaries and enjoying everything this great part of Los Angeles has to offer. Website

4. Digital Dealer Conference and Expo, August 8–10, Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’re really serious about taking your dealership’s digital strategy to the next level, the expansive Digital Dealer Conference and Expo has everything you need. With innovative events like small roundtable workshops on topics like SEO and reputation management, plus hands-on product demos, this event is a standout for owners who want practical solutions, not vague suggestions.

The roundtable workshops are particularly interesting. They’re designed to get you talking to other dealer managers and owners about the struggles you’re all facing in 2016. In the end, wisdom from experts can only go so far, but understanding how others facing your same challenges are adapting is invaluable. Website

5. Connected Car Expo, November 15–17, Los Angeles, California

Let’s face it, too many auto dealers see innovators within the field as a threat to their business model. But that perspective isn’t likely to lead toward greater growth and innovation. That’s why the Connected Car Expo offers so much to dealers who want to get a wider view of what’s happening in the automotive industry.

Here you’ll be able to meet top start-ups seeking to change the way people buy cars, in addition to major innovators like John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft, or Dr. Frankie James, the managing director of GM’s Advanced Technology Office.

The kinds of insights you’ll get about the future of cars will be invaluable to any dealership looking to stay on the cutting edge—not to mention enjoying all the benefits of spending some time in southern California in November. Website

Growing your business online and offline

Of course, attending events in person isn’t the only way to gain valuable business insights. Tools like this detailed auto dealer surety bond guide or auto dealer marketing guide contain a wealth of insights on how to run your dealership better. What kind of insights is your dealership looking for to thrive in 2016? What kind of events are you looking to attend?

Eric Halsey is a historian by training and disposition who’s been interested in U.S. small businesses since working at the House Committee on Small Business in 2006. Coming from a family with a history of working on industry policy, he has a particular interest in the Surety Bonding and Automotive Industries and Professional Certification; he loves sharing his knowledge of the industry for JW Surety Bonds.

Eric Halsey


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