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Old 03-27-2013, 02:49 PM   #1
XDCX
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Default Dealerships that host Car Shows

As I mentioned in another thread, I attended a car show at a nearby Chevrolet Dealer over the weekend and it made me think about the ramifications a dealer faces when hosting a car show.

The car show I attended at Sands Chevrolet was very impressive - there must have been 200 - 250 cars onsite and at least 1,000 people on-property. The event was run by a local car club and 100% of the proceeds were being donated to a local charity.

I believe the cars on display were charged $25 - $40 to attend and people willing to donate $100 had their vehicles on display in the showroom. The cars were awesome - it was just as enjoyable as going to a Barrett-Jackson or Mecum Auction. (There were lots of high end Corvettes and Camaros, but non-GM cars were on display too. In fact, I had a chance to check out a Tesla Electric car that was pretty cool.)

From the dealership's perspective, the place was packed and they seemed to be working a number of car deals while I was in the showroom looking at cars. On the downside, however, it appeared the dealership moved all of their used cars offsite to accommodate the cars that were on display, and I'm guessing some new car customers may have been reluctant to visit the dealership because it was so crowded and was difficult to find parking.

So, that's the question - Is it a good business decision or a bad business decision for a dealership to host a car show?
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:47 PM   #2
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I remember attending a car show at a St. Louis Chrysler dealer back in the early 90s. It was a MoPar event that showed the old with the new. There were Roadrunners sitting next to Daytonas and Challengers next to Stealths. It was a quaint little show. The biggest thing I remember, though, was a guy in an early 90s Camaro IROC-Z stopping along the highway and talking smack to the Mopar fans. He then proceeded to rev the engine and peel out onto the highway. A very childish thing, but it instantly opened my eyes to what was going on with Chrysler at the time. There was nothing of real performance outside of fwd Daytonas, fwd Spirit R/Ts, and the Japanese-made Stealth. I felt pretty bad for the Mopar faithful and dealerships at the time.

Did the car show help the dealer? Possibly, but I know this dealer is no longer at that location today. I can't remember if it went belly up or moved to a different location with a different owner.

The event at Sands Chevrolet sounds very impressive. I would love to experience something like that. I don't know of any event or anything even close to this size around here.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:04 AM   #3
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We had annual car shows until Obama and his depression cast us aside. I think the car show gives dealership identification in a "metro" market. It separates the dealer from other dealerships, and gives prospects a "warm, fuzzy" feeling about the store. Also, many of the attendees were "gear heads" who were not from the immeadiate area, and would not have been on the property but for the show. I believe we had business from them, because now they knew "where we are" when we advertized.

I also think it servies no purpose to have a show in a rural market, the local high school needs the "food service" and car wash proceeds, that can be generated by the attendence. The dealership doesn't need to compete for that.

As to the cars and trucks brought to the show, a polite 40 and over group. No problems, no arguements, happy whosoever won the trophys. They even cleaned up their own cigarette butts and general trash! Even though there were portalets, We opened the dealership restrooms to them, and nothing out of the ordinary in cleanup there either.

In my opinion, due to the fact I have a large facility for parking; the crowd did not scare off business. I did not have service or parts open, and those areas were closed to the public and monitored.
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:21 AM   #4
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We hosted a Direct Connect (before Mopar Performance) Car show about 3 years. The best one we had was held at the store, but we also held it off site. Brought lots of people in but not many buyers.
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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We used to do car shows at the dealership every few years, usually tied to the launch of new Chevy products. We'd advertise it as a customer appreciation event and do hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet(for those that remember that). Free dogs, pie, and pop for anyone that showed. Dad and I usually ran the grill, mom and a few employees handled the rest while the salesmen mingled with the customers. Being a rural dealer we typically had 100 cars at each show as dad and I belonged to the local and state clubs. Back then you could even get a GM rep or two to show up and PR new products for you and bring give aways.

While the sales that day weren't high, it did drive tons of people to the lot and create many leads. Overall they were a great success. You can easily add event liability to your current policy for a small price, or at least you could in the good old days!
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AR2 View Post
A very childish thing, but it instantly opened my eyes to what was going on with Chrysler at the time. There was nothing of real performance outside of fwd Daytonas, fwd Spirit R/Ts, and the Japanese-made Stealth. I felt pretty bad for the Mopar faithful and dealerships at the time.
I remember those days too. The Chrysler faithful didn't have any real performance cars in the showroom and the few fast cars they did have came from Mitsubishi. (The Dodge Stealth and Eagle Talon.)

I do comment Bob Lutz for developing the Dodge Spirit R/T - it may not have been the most stylish vehicle but I remember it could hang with the 5.0 Liter Mustangs of the day.

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The event at Sands Chevrolet sounds very impressive. I would love to experience something like that. I don't know of any event or anything even close to this size around here.
I think Sands Chevrolet is the dealership facility that all OEMs dream of. It's modern, it's huge, it's nicely appointed and it's located in a new Auto Mall.

While I was really impressed with Sand's facility, I'm not sure I'd want to face that rent-factor each month.
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by conn02 View Post
Brought lots of people in but not many buyers.
I think that's the case for most car shows.

For a Dealer who opened a new location or took over an existing operation hosting a car show may be a good way to get a lot of people on-property even if it doesn't immediately convert to increased sales.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57years View Post
We had annual car shows until Obama and his depression cast us aside. I think the car show gives dealership identification in a "metro" market. It separates the dealer from other dealerships, and gives prospects a "warm, fuzzy" feeling about the store. Also, many of the attendees were "gear heads" who were not from the immeadiate area, and would not have been on the property but for the show. I believe we had business from them, because now they knew "where we are" when we advertized.
Great comments.

I remember a Dodge Dealer in Portland (Timberline Dodge) that hosted a number of events for the Viper Club and it definitely helped his Service and Parts business. He often had his "Viper Tech" attend the events and the Viper owners really liked being able to talk to the person who would be working on their cars.

Sadly, Timberline Dodge was one of the 789....

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Originally Posted by 57years View Post
As to the cars and trucks brought to the show, a polite 40 and over group. No problems, no arguements, happy whosoever won the trophys. They even cleaned up their own cigarette butts and general trash! Even though there were portalets, We opened the dealership restrooms to them, and nothing out of the ordinary in cleanup there either.

In my opinion, due to the fact I have a large facility for parking; the crowd did not scare off business. I did not have service or parts open, and those areas were closed to the public and monitored.
That's great - I like the fact that the people who attended were respectful of your facility and your business wasn't impacted in a negative way by hosting the event.

I recall a Dodge Dealer in Southern California who was hosting a SRT-4 gathering at his store on the second Saturday of each month. It didn't take long before the monthly event grew too large and people started complaining that the dealership wasn't allocation enough space for people who wanted to attend the SRT-4 gathering.

It didn't take long before the Dealer finally decided to stop the events so his staff could focus their time on selling cars.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakeshow View Post
We used to do car shows at the dealership every few years, usually tied to the launch of new Chevy products. We'd advertise it as a customer appreciation event and do hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet(for those that remember that). Free dogs, pie, and pop for anyone that showed. Dad and I usually ran the grill, mom and a few employees handled the rest while the salesmen mingled with the customers. Being a rural dealer we typically had 100 cars at each show as dad and I belonged to the local and state clubs. Back then you could even get a GM rep or two to show up and PR new products for you and bring give aways.!
That's awesome.... I bet the customers (and your employees) loved watching you and your dad work the grill. I think that's a nice way of being accessible and showing that you really care about your customers and employees.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakeshow View Post
While the sales that day weren't high, it did drive tons of people to the lot and create many leads. Overall they were a great success. You can easily add event liability to your current policy for a small price, or at least you could in the good old days!
I agree that the payoff may take time and you can't measure the effectiveness of an event based on the immediate sales.

I also didn't even think about event liability coverage - that's a great point.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:28 PM   #10
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My dad is gonna bring our 67 vette to the local ADESA auction for a childrens charity coming up we have a nice car hope he does well.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:30 PM   #11
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Also talking about the grille we cook hamburgers and hotdogs almost every thursday at lunch for all employees and any customers that are waiting!!!
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:13 AM   #12
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My dad is gonna bring our 67 vette to the local ADESA auction for a childrens charity coming up we have a nice car hope he does well.
Is your dad going to sell the Corvette and give the proceeds to a children's charity? If so, that's quite a donation.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:16 AM   #13
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Also talking about the grille we cook hamburgers and hotdogs almost every thursday at lunch for all employees and any customers that are waiting!!!
That's awesome.
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:52 PM   #14
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It was nutz. Check the facebook page for wilsoncountymotors to look at the pictures... all the new inventory was moved to a gravel lot next to the new store, and the car show was given the run of the place.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:03 AM   #15
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not gonna sell the vette the auction will make a donation in the car show winners name to the childrens hospital!!!
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