By: Matt Gruhn, MRAA President
When we announced the launch of Dealer Week at the beginning of 2019, a team member of ours referred to this all-new event as the “in-person embodiment of all that we do here at the MRAA.” And it’s true, as our annual conference, over a four-day period, Dealer Week was designed to deliver insights, strategies and best practices to help you and your team run a stronger dealership.
In 2020, though, for obvious reasons, I found myself pausing mid-sentence as I referenced Dealer Week as the in-person embodiment. Maybe it wasn’t going to be in-person, but that didn’t change the fact that the MRAA team still delivered a powerful Dealer Week learning event, for more than 1,000 dealers in 2020. We just did so online.
But here we are in late 2021, and Dealer Week is BACK! Live and in-person, Dealer Week will be held Dec. 6-9 in Austin, Texas. A couple years passed our last in-person Dealer Week, the sentiment around this event being the in-person embodiment of our mission and reason for existence has not changed. At the same time, there’s a lot that has changed and many questions to be answered about this event. So, here’s my best shot at capturing the most significant insights you didn’t know about Dealer Week 2021.
1. Dealer Week is 100% happening! Maybe you’re delaying your decision to attend this year to see if this event will get cancelled? It won’t. We remain full-speed ahead, hand-in-hand with officials in Austin, in producing Dealer Week, with zero conversation or consideration on canceling. It’s on!
2. Stay safe. Events have changed in the world of Covid, and rest assured that the MRAA team has adapted. Here's what to expect. First and foremost, the safety of our attendees, our exhibitors and our staff is the top priority. We will deliver on that by first following protocols from the Austin Convention Center. We recommend vaccinations and mask wearing. We will provide sanitizing stations. We will hold our industry party outdoors, as well. Our keynote will space out the seating, and you’ll be able to social distance as you desire throughout the event. And you can even choose from our name tag stickers to let others know how comfortable — or not — you are with being close to others
3. Online will be offered again, but different this time! One exciting bi-product of going virtual in 2020 is that MRAA will now offer TWO great Dealer Week events: The first is in-person in Austin, Texas, Dec. 6-9. The second is an online event, scheduled for Jan. 11-13. Over the first two days of that event, we will showcase a pre-recorded variation of every live pathway session from the Austin event, and on the final day, we will feature nine new in-depth workshops. These events do not overlap each other on the calendar. You should attend BOTH.
4. Especially at no additional cost.
This year, you'll have two times the opportunity to engage with the education at Dealer Week. If you attend Dealer Week in Austin, you will receive free access to the online event launching in January. That means if you miss a course in person, or want to re-watch one that you can't get enough of, you can! Plus, don't forget about those 9 additional workshops only offered in January. Imagine accessing all of those impactful courses all for the price of just one of the events. Get registered for the in-person event and save January 11-13 for Dealer Week Online.
5. Know who to bring. Dealer Week’s Educational Pathways have been re-named to make it easier to understand who our courses are designed to help. (i.e. so you know who to bring with you). Capture the most up-to-date strategies and tactics in the Sales & Marketing Pathway, the Service & Parts Pathway or the Leadership Pathway (or choose your own adventure and mix it up to attend parts of each of them). And bring the team members who can have the biggest impact in each of those departments.
6. The course line-up. The line-up of Dealer Week’s course offerings was just released. Seems a little late, for sure, but the fact of the matter is, we waited as long as feasibly possible to build our program offerings so that we could ensure we were on top of the latest issues challenging your dealership. I think you’ll agree that you won’t find ideas and insight better-tuned to your business and today’s market place than what Dealer Week has to offer.
7. Partners in your success. Each year, 100 or more suppliers populate the Dealer Week Expo Hall to offer you new and upgraded methods for driving greater profitability in your business. This year is no exception, as we have just shy of 100 exhibitors signed up (at the time of this writing) to offer you the latest and greatest products and services to boost your success in 2022!
8. Celebrate being back together.
Back by popular demand in 2021 is the Dealer Week Industry Celebration. Offered in an indoor-outdoor environment (at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden), this is a great time to celebrate the resilience you’ve demonstrated throughout 2020 and 2021 and connect in a casual environment with those who want to help drive your success in the year ahead. Apps and refreshments on us!
9. Closing keynote special musical talent. Do not — I repeat Do NOT — leave Dealer Week early this year. Although this blog is out before our official announcement on this presentation, you will not want to miss what we have in store for you at the closing keynote at Dealer Week 2021. An experience and success story you will not want to miss, our closing keynote will inspire you to make great things happen in 2022.
At Dealer Week 2021, we will acknowledge your challenges, celebrate your resilience and your many victories, and prepare you for the year ahead. That’s the one thing you should ALWAYS know about Dealer Week and your MRAA team. See you there.