Today you can practically get product information from anywhere and at any time. With the prevalence of 24/7 customer service numbers and the limitless information found online, including at www.carwash.com, product and service data is on demand. So, since the availability of this information and manufacturers have grown, what is the reason why owners and operators must invest in attending a few trade shows, including our industry’s largest event, each year?
In fact, there are many reasons why carwash owners and operators should make trade show attendance and participation part of their growth plans. Trade shows, such as the International Carwash Association’s (ICA) The Car Wash Show™ 2016, can benefit your business in many ways, including: to gain product and marketplace knowledge on new trends and technologies; develop inspiration and new ideas to implement; network with like-minded carwash professionals; communicate directly with manufacturers to help them make their products better meet your needs; and yes, even have some fun with new and established relationships.
We spoke with some carwash professionals who have been attending The Car Wash Show for several years. Using their experiences and trade show techniques for your business can help you maximize your return on investment when attending this year’s big event as well as future trade shows and events.
Related content: The Car Wash Show™ 2016
Chuck Howard, CEO, Autobell Car Wash Inc.
I attended my first ICA show in the late 1970s and have attended, I believe, every one since. My primary goals and objectives when attending The Car Wash Show each year are:
- Networking with fellow carwashers
- Looking at the latest equipment designs
- Attending presentations by experts and the keynote speaker.
I use the app to pick programs of interest and prioritize visits to exhibitors’ booths to maximize my time at the show. If I get an idea or concept worthy of writing down and taking home, I consider it a successful show.
Face-to-face meetings are important for the dialogue and collaboration that occur only through eye-to-eye contact. While reviewing carefully prepared information online or in print is useful, being able to ask questions as they come to mind during an in-person conversation can be revealing.
Stuart Levy, president, Auto Glanz Solutions
Frankly, I have lost track of how many ICA shows I have attended. Since about 1976, I have attended just about every show in an exhibitor capacity. Back then, these shows were held in hotel ballrooms because there weren’t enough exhibits to fill the space. But, over the years, the show began to grow with more carwash equipment companies introducing new products and/or services.
I still attend the shows in a vendor capacity, and it amazes me how the show has grown over the decades. To really appreciate all of the changes in the industry, regularly attending carwash shows is a must, particularly if you are new to the business.
As a vendor, my primary goal is to introduce my product to potential customers who come by my booth. These prospects will have different interests depending on what they want to do. I have to quickly learn what their goals are, and then determine if my product is a fit. I consider myself a problem-solver. If I don’t have what they are looking for, I can make suggestions that might help them or tell them where to go to find what they are looking for. In this capacity I am also a consultant.
For me, the most enjoyable part of the show is getting on the floor early and walking around to see what is new in the way of equipment and what my competition is offering. This is also a good time to catch up with other vendors and see people I haven’t seen in a while. In my opinion, it’s all part of a learning curve. Since the industry is constantly changing, you have to be aware of these changes.
Because I am a vendor, the majority of my time is spent in my booth. However, when I am not busy illustrating my product, I spend downtime surveying the aisles for people I know and would like to talk to. After show hours I try to spend my time with potential clients over dinner. This is a great way to really catch up on what is going on and particularly learn anything new that may have occurred on the show floor.
For me, it is important to know who I am doing business with, so face-to-face meetings are imperative. Whether someone purchases something from me, I want him or her to have a positive experience during the time we interacted. You never know when you might run into that person again down the road.
Jill and Bruce Hensley, owners, Hensley Fontana Public Relations & Marketing
We began attending ICA’s The Car Wash Show on our client’s behalf in 2003 and have attended every show but one (due to a schedule conflict) since then. Our public relations and marketing firm has been working with Autobell Car Wash Inc. and its sister company, Howco Inc., since 1999.
Our primary goals and objectives when attending The Car Wash Show are to gain knowledge in the marketing realm and/or confirm that our marketing strategies are adhering to industry best practices. We also connect with media outlets to keep those contacts fresh and to position ourselves and clients as excellent resources for their various needs.
We embrace the professional development/education sessions to learn new strategies, glean important data and confirm we are thinking progressively. We also enjoy reconnecting with media members to assist with their upcoming editorial needs; walking the showroom floor to observe the new technologies and “nuts and bolts” of the industry; and certainly connecting with colleagues and friends we have made through our involvement in the industry.
We maximize our time at The Car Wash Show by studying the schedule in advance and choosing the education sessions that best suit our needs and interests. Sometimes we attend sessions together to get different perspectives on the subject, and other times we split up to ensure we don’t miss out on potentially useful information.
We always get the full show access pass because it allows us to soak in every aspect of the show. We’ve learned a lot just wandering the show floor observing exhibitors and talking to attendees.
AJ Rassamni, business strategist/author, myLoyaltyApps.com and DirtyCarsFilthyRich.com
I moved to California in 1987 to go to college, and at the same time I started working at a carwash to pay my bills. I have been in the carwash business since.
I started to attend the ICA’s carwash shows every year since 1994, and then I purchased my first carwash in 1996. I have attended other carwash expos as well, but for me, the ICA carwash show is a must-attend event every year because it is the best carwash expo by far. Every year when I go to the The Car Wash Show I feel like I am going to Disney Land.
I have two goals in mind when attending this show: First, explore all the new innovative products, tools and educational materials that may help us improve the quality of the wash, dollar per transaction and to speed up the wash and detail processes; and second, network with many of my friends in the carwash business and exchange marketing ideas that may help each of us increase revenue and customer satisfaction.
Attending the carwash show is a great time and an opportunity to work “on the business,” instead of “in the business.” Attending as many educational sessions as possible and also networking with operators is like having your own mastermind group with common goals, which are to increase customer satisfaction and revenue.
When I network, surges of light bulbs over my head are turned on. I write all these ideas down and can’t wait to go back home to implement them.
When attending the ICA show and networking with hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees, you are bound to learn at least one new creative idea or purchase one new innovative product or piece of equipment that can help to speed up the wash and detail process, improve wash quality and increase revenue. It really pays to attend the The Car Wash Show.
Every year over 20,000 bloggers meet in Vegas for a blogger’s expo. They could have the same meeting online. Why do they spend their time, money and energy to meet in Vegas? The answer is simple: The Internet can never replace meeting and interacting in person with your peers.
John Gannon, general manager, Howco Inc.
Although we have several members of our distributor team who have attended 25 or 30 shows, this will only be my third visit to the ICA show.
There is a combination of goals and objectives that our team reviews prior to traveling to the show. As distributors, we make appointments and meetings with key suppliers. We also carry a list of customers and potential customers who we hope to meet at the show. Finally, we look for new opportunities, new technologies and new trends in the industry.
For our team, we get the opportunity to see and touch equipment or other products in a “clinical” environment. Although the materials are not fully functional in most cases, we get the opportunity to see the equipment moving while presenting our questions to the manufacturers.
We have two key ways to maximize our time and efforts at the ICA show. We set team and personal goals for the attendees prior to leaving for the show. Secondly, we set firm appointments (meetings, breakfasts, lunches, etc.) at the show or away from the show in order to take the drama out of finding our customers and suppliers on a busy trade show floor.
There is a personal connection created with every attendee — an experience shared by all visitors to the show.
Our return on investment is determined by sales leads generated, sales projects closed and supplier relationships improved.
With an estimated 6,000 carwash professionals expected to attend this year’s show of more than 370 exhibitors and over 35 educational sessions, there are plenty of reasons to attend and make the most of this event.