Three Important Things I Learned at the 2014 SEMA Show

sema_show_logo_1564Well, another SEMA Show is in the books and the week went WAY too fast as they usually do. However, I wanted to share three quick things that I either learned or got re-enforced at this year’s SEMA Show. So with no further delay, here we go!

1) The automotive business is back to pre-recession levels. Although many of us could feel this when we spoke to people or saw it in our sales data from 2014 YTD, there was no doubt once I arrived at SEMA that the auto business is back. I have been attending SEMA for 15 years and this was the largest I had ever seen the show. The previous largest shows had been in the 2005-2007 time frame, and that coincided with very high years for new car sales. Well, new car sales have been climbing the last couple of years and are back to 05-07 numbers. So, as much as we might want to assign the cause of this growth, it comes down to how many new cars are being sold. When the new car business is booming, the automotive aftermarket business follows.

2) The successful shops are looking to add new products and services to their existing business as a way to grow moving forward. One of the biggest trends that I noticed while at SEMA this year was business owners looking to add a parallel offering that complimented their main business. They did not want to go in a complete other direction, but they saw selling products or services to the customers that they already had as the way they wanted to grow in 2015 and beyond. As a result, there were many products at the show designed to be easily added into an existing shop to either improve the shop’s current offering so that an increased price could be charged or add revenue via an additional sale. 

A great example of this was a product called ProSkin that was designed to seal any brand of paint protection film or vinyl wrap. A shop could offer an additional service of sealing the paint protection kit or vehicle wrap and charge a bit more for this service. The shop could also sell an aftercare kit from ProSkin to keep the product looking good for many years to come. So, with the same number of customers coming through the door, a shop would have the ability to increase their revenues in 2015 in two distinct ways.

3) As good as technology might be, there is no substitute for a face to face meeting. In a day of email, texts, FaceTime, Skype, etc, it is easy to overlook the importance of face to face meetings. The beauty of a show like SEMA is that it gives you the opportunity to have real meetings in person. While I value all the things modern technology allows us to do, there is a unquestionable dynamic that exists when people are across the table from each other. It is hard to explain other than to say that I was able to get more accomplished with certain individuals at SEMA in a 60 minute meeting than I would have been able to get done in a month of emails, texts, phone calls, etc. So, whether it is at the next SEMA Show or another industry event, I would encourage you to attend just for the opportunity to have those needed meetings in person.

Well, after that week, I have a ton of emails to return and phone calls to make. If you did not make the show this year, I hope to see you at a SEMA Show, The WFCT or another industry event some time in the near future!

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