It’s Business, Not Just a Show

It’s Business, Not Just a Show
Trade shows offer networking opportunities to all participants. (Photo: Sukanya Ray Ghosh)

Trade shows offer great opportunities to all aftermarket players to enhance their businesses.

Automotive aftermarket trade shows have been around for decades, offering key players in the industry opportunities to conduct business as well as network on a single platform. However, putting together a successful trade show involves a dedicated investment of both time and money.

A trade show floor is the ideal place to introduce new products, new technologies, and current training options.

“There are several objectives to those trade shows. People like to buy goods at a favourable price. You do a trade show and have something to offer at a discounted price. Suppliers and manufacturers may offer special deals,” says Alain Primeau, Regional Vice President—Quebec, NAPA Auto Parts.

NAPA stopped organizing trade shows for a few years but brought them back due to constant demand from service providers. “They wish to have the opportunity to see what is new. It is especially important today due to rapid changes in technology,” explains Primeau.

Improving the business

For service providers, attending trade shows is a means of finding out avenues to improve one’s business. According to Emily Chung, owner of AutoNiche, trade shows are effective and valuable if they are well organized. It is important to have a purpose behind organizing them. Otherwise, she says, “it is just people setting up booths and attendees walking around.” When attending the shows with her technicians, Chung has a clear set purpose on her agenda. “I ask my technicians to specifically look for one or two products or services that we can eventually implement at the shop. We also track down one or two people that we can connect with later,” she explains. She finds this tactic more successful than just walking into a show, looking at everything available, collecting cards and information at random and going back. “I will still come across something but may not be as successful because I’m not looking for the opportunities,” she adds.

Role of trade shows

Buying and selling is an integral part of all trade shows. Primeau notes that people do not like to buy equipment without seeing it in action. Attendees come in with the goal of seeing, touching and understanding the equipment they wish to purchase.

Combined with networking, the trade show setting is perfect for a rendezvous between service providers, suppliers and manufacturers. “NAPA plays the role of an intermediary between the engineers of the manufacturers and the service providers. Gathering everybody under the same roof during the same days creates an amazing dynamic,” he says. “People get into conversations with the manufacturers and NAPA plays the role of the networker.” NAPA’s partnerships with suppliers as well as its dedicated sales force within the network comes in handy since “manufacturers may not have time to visit shops due to limited resources.”

Good ROI

Attending trade shows may generate good return on investment (ROI) for service providers. They can get substantial discounts on products and services, they can decide on economic and training strategies for their facilities, and they can also gain knowledge on the latest industry developments, notes Primeau.

Networking on the floor happens organically for Chung. Meeting somebody in person is different from a phone conversation or even talking to sales representatives. “When they drop in, I may not be in the mindset to take an interest in their product lines. When I go to a trade show, I’m expecting them to tell me what’s new.”

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