I’ve just caught my breathe. The event is over. 12 months of planning is complete.
And now it’s time to sit back and hear some feedback.
Conferences are a lot more work than they look like, let me tell you. This blog post will highlight the day itself and a brief summary on the speakers.
**Disclaimer – This is a friggin long post.
After the inaugural DealerTalk conference last March I really thought it would be almost impossible to “one up” the event this time.
First off there was no Grant Cardone this year.
I received many tweets, emails, and phone calls saying we had to have Grant back.
“That’s the only reason we went” – was some of the common feedback from dealers.
Now I love me some Grant Cardone, but I really wanted to put a fresh line up in place and expose Canadian dealers to some fresh faces. Grant Cardone 2015?? Who knows?
Yes you heard me right. The summer of 2013 is when I started hashing out what this year’s conference might look like.
Who would speak? How much would we charge? Where would we hold the event? These were the questions that filled the whiteboard.
At the time it seemed crazy to me that we were worrying about this 10 months prior to DealerTalk 2014 but it paid off in a big way. Check out some video highlights below.
New Website please
One thing that we did agree on was that DealerTalk needed a new website.
If DealerTalk was going to be a brand that we would continue to build on for years to come, we needed step up our image, and fast.
The original DealerTalk site was functional. You landed on it. You signed up. Or you didn’t. In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that”.
I’m happy with how the website turned out but I do want to add a blog/news component that will allow us to publish updates, video coverage, DealerTalk webinars, and other cool dealer stuff.
More to come on that…..
Location, Location, Location
We ended up using The Four Seasons last year by a complete fluke.
Were you aware of that??? The original DealerTalk was supposed to take place at the Sony Centre. Hey, it was our first one and we were shooting for the stars.
Have you been to the Sony Centre?
Let’s just put it this way, there would probably be a few empty seats. The Sony Centre is usually reserved for Jerry Seinfeld doing standup or Broadway shows.
Anyway, we were in a bind and the wonderful crew at FFAM (agency that helps put this show together) came up with a few spots.
Royal York? Nah too old.
Westin Harborfront? Have you seen the traffic on Queens Quay (pronounced “Key”)? No thanks.
Best Western in Mississauga, come on this is DealerTalk!!
What about the new Four Seasons???
Scott (my boss and partner in crime on this conference) and I agreed this could be a good possibility. I was concerned it wouldn’t be large enough to accommodate 250-300 guests, maybe I was still smoking the Sony Centre pipe, who knows.
It was love at first site. Modern, classy, and right in line with our vision of DealerTalk.
What was our vision?
I’m not entirely sure, but we definitely didn’t want the classic banquet hall and rubber chicken lunch for Chapter 2 of DealerTalk.
We signed on the dotted line and haven’t looked back since.
Twas the night before DealerTalk
Next year I’m not going into the office the day before the event. Trying to carry out a normal work day while my phone rings nonstop and my inbox catches fire is just plain silly.
We don’t need another hero, right Tina Turner?
It was cool that my friend Mike Haeg from Century Interactive flew in from Dallas, Texas and came to the Kijiji offices to see how we get down (Read his review on the day here). He was so cold. Haha. Oh yeah, he brought me this amazing seasoning salt that I added to a beef stir-fry. C’mon Ryan stay focused.
I rolled up to The Four Season around 4:30 pm to check out the room. I also had to do a sound check because I was going to be delivering the opening remarks.
Jason Craine was there nice and early making sure everything was perfect for his speaking debut the next day.
I did my thing, had a coffee with Jason and then back in a cab to get home and rest up for the big day. I thought Jason seemed a bit nervous but I had complete confidence he would knock it out of the park the next day.
Paul Potratz – “You could be wasting thousands”
Paul was our #1 rated speaker from 2013 and that is why he was asked back. Canadian really do love Paul. First off he totally blew my mind with his electric blue suit. Is this guy the best dressed auto guy or what?
Process , process, process, was what Mr.Potratz was stressing. He showed us some insanely detailed flow charts that answered all the questions of “who should do what”?
I think I saw smoke come out of the ears of a few dealers that were sitting in front of me. Don’t worry you can download the entire presentation here.
My key takeaway was that dealers need to get out of the dealership for a day.
I’m being serious. Leave the store, turn off your phones, and start writing down the process how you do everything.
Chances are the processes you “think” you use don’t actually happen. Take the GM’s, Internet Dept, and even some salespeople along for the ride.
How do you:
– Handle a “give me your best price I’m shopping” inquiry
– Measure the amount of appointments booked, showed up, and sold?
– Ensure that sales follows up for up to 6 months after the initial inquiry (unless they tell you to beat it!)
I went out for dinner with Paul that night and he the waitress messed up his order up. Instead of some fruity margarita he ended up with a jalapeno margarita.
I thought he was going to wow the table that he could handle it but he politely asked the waitress to fix his order. He’s so nice.
Jason Craine – Top 10 things to implement in your dealership
Craine definitely “brought the pain” to his DealerTalk debut. His presentation was honest, funny, engaging, and really really……….. Real.
Jason started off his talk with “I have never sold a car” AND “I have never bought a car”. I knew I bet on the right horse when I asked Jason to be our local dealer presenter.
This was a no holds barred open book session on how he went from the dark days of losing Pontiac to being an Internet powerhouse by not getting caught in the “monkey see monkey do” trap those most dealers can’t resist.
Jason Craine has reshaped the org structure of the dealership as we know it by adding positions such as “content creators” and “vehicle merchandiser”.
Mills Buick GMC is the first dealer (I am aware of) in Ontario that takes actual photos of their new inventory. Based on the stats Jason shared in his presentation it paid off.
I saw dealers scribbling notes like crazy hoping to steal some secrets.
Problem is you can’t steal Jason’s “secrets”. Most of them aren’t actually secrets. He is simply a master at seeing the big picture and being able to execute on these great ideas. Face it, most dealers suck at ACTUALLY doing this stuff. It’s more fun to talk and tweet about it then get out the spreadsheets.
Download his presentation here – Speaker Presentations
— Sachin Raja (@sachinraja) March 4, 2014
Jay Baer – Youtility
I was so excited to find out that we had even landed Jay Baer to be our keynote speaker. The majority of dealers in the attendance probably had never heard of him. I’m positive that after DealerTalk they will remember the Baer.
Heck, he had had Beastie Boys as his intro music. Intro music for a conference speaker is where it’s at.
— BourgeoisMotorsFord (@BourgeoisMotors) March 4, 2014
Jay talked to dealers about what YouTility is and why they should incorporate it into their marketing. Youtility is making marketing so useful that people would actually pay for it.
Jay even dropped some Autodome love in his presentation by highlighting their customer testimonial videos.
Grab his book here – YouTility Book
Theo Fleury – Don’t Quit Before The Miracle
I had tried to get Theo as our keynote last year but he was not available. Man, am I happy we were able to bring him as our lunchtime speaker.
Theo talked about his troubled childhood, sexual abuse, addiction, NHL career, and how he has made the comeback of his life getting clean and helping other victims of abuse.
I saw grown men cry during his powerful 60 minute talk.
Theo is a standup guy. He stayed for almost an hour afterward signing autographs and taking pictures with attendees.
I got to spend some time with him backstage talk about his 2002 Gold Medal and how stacked the 2014 team was on defense.
What Happened To Jeff Kershner??
I have to say my respect for Jeff has reached a whole new level. Jeff tried to get in to Toronto a couple of days early to do some sightseeing and probably get himself ready to rock.
However, the weather did not co-operate and he was delayed 3 days in a row. Even on the day of, Jeff was desperately trying to get to T.O. We made up for his miss with a special pane discussion with Paul, Jason, and Jay.
Time to debrief
So what happens now? Well, first off I have to sort through the footage that was shot during the day and get some video out there for you folks.
We will do a complete post – mortem in a week’s time and go over the survey results from the attendees, read all of the feedback, and get ready to plan another one!
Thank you to everyone that came out and the event so special! Extra special thanks to Niel Hiscox for doing an amazing job as our M.C.
Feel free to share your reviews on the day and help me out with some ideas for future speakers for next year.