AAPEX and SEMA getting closer; plan sooner than later

If you haven’t made your travel plans for AAPEX and SEMA this fall in Las Vegas, don’t put it off any longer. Those of you who don’t fly a lot may not realize that air fares are higher this year and they are getting higher as we speak. The days when you could book a round trip from the Midwest or East Coast to Vegas for less than a few hundred dollars are over. (AAPEX is giving away a free trip to the show as part of the VehicleServicePros Great Prize Giveaway, which begins Sept.1.)  

If you’re on the fence about going this year, make up your mind sooner rather than later. Successful business owners, no matter how large or small their businesses, attend trade shows at least every few years to keep up with changing technology, learn about new operating practices, see new products, attend business education seminars, meet face-to-face with suppliers and network with colleagues in a non-competitive setting.

If you haven’t attended AAPEX or SEMA in a while, it’s imperative you do so soon. The tools on display at the shows are more powerful than ever, but many of them represent a hefty investment and require a hands-on demonstration. Repair service tools are changing, and every year there are more new tools on display.

The market is also changing, and it’s important to know that your customer is changing, your work force is changing, and the business management and marketing tools (such as the Internet and social media) are creating new challenges and opportunities.

Take a look at the educational programs on the show websites: www.apexshow.com and www.semashow.com. There are tons of free education seminars specifically targeted to the professional aftermarket. The AAPEX and SEMA shows have more aftermarket specific education in one setting than any other events of the year.

Do you know how to sell to “Gen Y” customers? Do you know how to recruit and motivate “Gen Y” employees?

Are you up on the competitive threat you face from the DIY market, especially in light of the Internet?

Do you know what technologies automotive experts see as most important for the next decade?

Is telematics going to be a reality soon?

Do you have a formal business plan? Do you know how to write one or improve on what you already have?

These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself if you haven’t decided to make the trip to Vegas.

Another reason you should plan ahead is you need time to really plan. To get the best return on your investment in time and resources, a plan will make all the difference.

There are more activities than any individual or small group of people can hope to accomplish at AAPEX and SEMA. You need time to view the exhibitor list, find out which of your suppliers will be there, find out if there is a certain time they would prefer to see you, when they might be available for dinner, select which seminars will be most beneficial, and which networking events you want to attend.

Don’t for one minute think you can make the best use of your time “on the fly.” There’s a lot to do and see at these shows, and you make the best use of your time by having a written schedule.

If you have trouble keeping away from the distractions of Las Vegas, a plan will help keep you on track. This doesn’t mean you don’t take time for leisure. Relaxation is important when you’re working a busy show. Schedule some leisure along with your learning.

The fall trade shows are your one opportunity to take in as much knowledge as you can for at least the next year. Don’t put it off.

Your reward will at least be a fresh perspective on your business.