4 MORE Things To Know About SEMA (by Jeff Short)

Following on the heels of my last post on attending SEMA (read Part 1), I had the opportunity to speak to the VP of Events and Communications for SEMA, Peter Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 1.32.41 PMMacGillivray. Continuing to think about our customers who are considering whether they should attend SEMA or how to get the most out of it, I was able to ask him some targeted questions related to independent tire dealers and SEMA. Here is a summary of his insights:

1) SEMA’s focus on new products

The number one thing people say they come to see is New Products. SEMA puts an enormous focus on their New Product Showcase. For 2015, submissions are up 100% over last year.

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Here’s an helpful note for Attendees: You can pick up a scanner at the New Products Showcase and scan any items that interest you. Turn in the scanner and get an immediate print out of all items and information you scanned. All for free.

2) Crossover appeal for Tire Dealers

I asked Peter why he thought a Tire Dealer would come to SEMA, and he had an interesting take: He suggested that the automotive aftermarket is a natural crossover for tire dealers. At SEMA you will find ideas and products that can expand your business. Wheels, cold air intakes, and all kinds of other upsell opportunities are available. While that customer’s truck is in your shop, why not sell him the accessories that he’s going to buy somewhere else?

These two points—about the focus on new products and the crossover appeal—combine for an interesting opportunity for those at SEMA. It is especially true for dealers that already may be headed in the direction of expanding business in this way or are thinking about it. If attending, maybe instead of just browsing you set a goal of finding the 5 best products that you think fit your business and your customers. Then as you come back home you can explore the possibility of whether they would work–next talk to some customers, test the waters, or even bring a few in as a test run.

3) Advice for First Timers

Peter said that first time attenders tend to think planning the trip to SEMA means arranging flights and hotels. But SEMA isn’t a fishing trip. Don’t just show up. TheScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 1.59.32 PM best results come from making a schedule and listing your “must sees.” Set aside an hour to plan who and what you intend to see. What educational sessions you’d like to attend.  Do you want to visit your existing suppliers?  If so they’ll all be here.  Or do you want to make new contacts?  Map out where they’ll be; it’s too big to hope you run into the right booths.  For those of you that have a smartphone, you may find the “2015 SEMA Show” App to be helpful. You’ll have all the information right there on your phone. Check out their site for searchable, interactive floor plans and other helps to plan your days at the show: SEMA Show Site

4) Expanding Demographic of Who Attends SEMA

SEMA is the largest gathering of small business people in the US. That may not surprise you.

What might surprise you is that it’s also the largest gathering of professional women in the US. In the past, it was mostly just spouses that attended. Now it’s shop owners, manufacturer’s reps, and buyers.

SEMA is also working to bring young people into the industry. They are striving to make the show accessible and comfortable for them. They reach out via social media and their Youth Awards to recognize the next generation.

I appreciate Peter MacGillivray taking time from his busy preparation for the Show and giving us his perspective. And I hope some of you find it helpful whether it’s for this year or thinking about how SEMA might benefit you or others in your business in years to come.

4 Things To Know About SEMA (by Jeff Short)

What’s the deal with SEMA? Should I go? These are two common questions that I hear. I’ve gone 3 years in a row, so obviously I see value in attending. For all of you that are wondering if you should too, I thought I’d write a little guide.

SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association. Their mission is to promote all things automotive aftermarket. They are a trade association that lobbies against laws that try to stifle vehicle modification, but SEMA is best known though for putting on the largest automotive event in the world.Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.24.19 PM

The SEMA Show takes place in early November each year and it’s held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Here are your four things to help you decide if you should attend:

(1) SEMA is only open to people that are in the automotive industry.

If you’re a tire guy or an automotive repair gal, you’re in, but the general public is locked out. This means the show is targeted to you and your needs, not the public. And, hopefully, smaller crowds.

(2) SEMA is home to the Tire Industry Association show called Global Tire Expo

The Tire Industry Association holds their big show at SEMA as well. It’s called the Global Tire Expo and it’s sort of a show within a show. You’ll Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.27.12 PMfind massive manufacturer booths with all of the new tire lines and tire changing equipment on display and all the reps that are dying to talk with you. You can get a hands on demo of every tire balancer, tool, alignment system, point of sale software system, and every other shop gadget known to man. You can make more business contacts in one day here than you’d make the rest of your life otherwise.

A note for you on touring SEMA: Your feet ARE going to hurt.

SEMA is flat out huge. You can’t see it all in one day or two. For starters just the inside part of the show covers 3.2 million square feet. Then there are all the different displays outside… Over 2,300 vendors display at SEMA. From the small mom and pops all the way up to Ford Motor Company.

(3) Opportunities to Learn about your business and industry

Besides looking at all the products and talking to the reps, you can pick from over 50 free business-building seminars. There are 9 tire dealer specific seminars on offer this year. A quick glance at the schedule for this year shows seminars with top successful Tire Dealers sharing their secrets, seminars on Truck Tires, one on Management help, and a Women of the Tire Industry Session for women only.

(4) SEMA is best known for the cars

And models. Back to the cars. You will find the finest selection of Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.25.31 PMcustom cars on the planet here. Last year’s show featured 1,500 over the top, customized cars, trucks, and bikes from all the famous builders. Speaking of those builders, SEMA is where you can meet all of the automotive royalty in one place. Last year I met the Richards… Petty (NASCAR King) and (Gas Monkey) Rawlings, Kustom Kar King George Barris, Car Crazy Barry McGuire, Chip Foose, and everybody else that has a car Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.35.07 PMshow on TV plus all the famous rock stars that are into cars that seem to be just strolling around everywhere like, ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons and my random conversation with Mike Ness from Social Distortion. (he’s into our great PA antique stores when he’s touring here) When it come to people watching, you can’t beat SEMA.

Oh yeah, and it’s in Vegas

I’m not a Vegas kind of guy but you have to see it at least once. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to stay here. Plenty of hotels from $119Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.38.46 PM a night. And you can see a show and gamble if you must. You can stay an extra day and see the Hoover Dam or tour the Grand Canyon. Then there are the restaurants. The best meal I ever ate in my life was in Vegas…

Hope this helps you think about whether it’s time for your first trip, time to check in again, or not really for you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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