Time and money: Are we using them wisely?

Publish Date: 
Jan 13, 2014
By Tracy Harris

TIME AND MONEY. These two yardsticks were very much a consideration when we chose Chicago as the location for the new Dealer Expo.

Not surprisingly, they also have been part of almost every question since we made the announcement.

Let’s see how Chicago stacks up for “time” by considering a hypothetical dealer in Los Angeles. ‘Jack’ has a small dealership with only three full-time employees, but they’re well-trained and he’s confident of their ability to handle the store for a couple of days. He uses Shop the Floor, Dealer Expo’s planning tool, to tee up the exhibitors that are ‘must-sees’ for his business as well as a couple of seminars and product demonstrations that address issues he’s been facing. By taking a little time before the show, he creates a plan of action that makes the most his event experience.

Jack’s happy to learn he won’t be delayed at registration, for he registered in advance, has his badge and — Surprise! — it doesn’t need a badge holder. He’ll be able to walk right into Dealer Expo.

When he first arrives, he visits the New Product Showcase (NPS) in the lobby; it gives him a quick overview of the new products introduced in 2014, as well those that will be rolled out within the next few months. He uses his smartphone to scan products of particular interest to him and uses the Shop the Floor tool to integrate the new information into his itinerary. Shop the Floor will calculate the most efficient path to meeting his objectives according to need and scheduling. Jack also picks up a New Product Showcase catalog that he can take back to the shop for his employees.

In addition to meeting potential new suppliers and checking out all the products, Jack also gets face-to-face time with suppliers to learn about their new retailer programs. He’ll get actionable information at two seminars on Thursday and from four product demos on the show floor on Friday.

Networking events enable him talk to other dealers and retailers to hear their challenges and ideas, and share success strategies. It’s a tight schedule, but one that packs a lot of punch — and puts him back in his dealership on Saturday.

In his day-and-a-half of show time, Jack accomplished a lot. Of course, if you don’t have to be back at your store for a Saturday event, you can stay longer and enjoy more opportunities. Some may choose to spend significantly more time at Dealer Expo, including a few leisure days in Chicago for the holidays.

Now, let’s talk about “money.” Many people have voiced concerns that Chicago will be expensive. So let’s take a look.

We’ve scanned current airfares and we’re negotiating room rates that will range from $119 to $149 at the host hotels (and from past experience, we know you wily dealers will find even lower rates at smaller hotels in the area!).

Because there’s no real need for a car once you’ve arrived in Chicago, anyone driving should consider parking outside Chicago and using mass transit to head downtown. There’s plenty of parking at McCormick Place, but stashing your car elsewhere helps you avoid downtown traffic (the bane of all cities) and downtown parking rates (the bane of all towns).