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Cheer and Promoting at the Western Canadian Dealer Summit

Wynn Encore, Las Vegas: November 6–8

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold… No — that was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

We were packed into a business flight to Nevada when the $9-sandwich cart went past… That’s better.


Not long ago, Bill Warren and I left soon-to-be-frost-covered Edmonton to attend the Western Canadian Dealers Summit. But rather than the typical ticket to Toronto, the mecca of Canadian conference destinations, this time we were treated to a first-of-its-kind adventure to Las Vegas.

First off, we need to give a shout out to the MDA, SADA, and New Car Dealers of B.C., who worked together to put on a fantastic event and rolled boxcars in doing so.

Before we get into all the insights we took from the speakers, let’s give you the high-level highlights of the event:

Thursday got things kicked off with a sponsor-supported welcome reception where dealers hit the jackpot with a wicked food and drink spread. You expect everything to be more lavish in Las Vegas, and we weren’t let down.

Friday was Western Dealer Day at SEMA (enough said; SEMA gets its own post, coming soon); Search Optics also hosted a great bash, complete with a slick performance from three electric violin, classic-rock-playing ladies.

Then on to Saturday, where the dealers convened to listen to a world-class lineup of speakers. (Absent: Celine Dion, Blue Man Group, Tony Bennett, Siegfried, Roy.)


So what did we learn?

  • Grant Gooley from the Zanchin Automotive group began the events with an incredible presentation about the eco system that’s helping them to succeed online. No more inflatable gorillas — build some trust and transparency instead.
  • Eric Miltsch reminded us that as long as there are search engines, SEO is not dead; keep your focus on the local aspects of SEO.
  • Joe Webb, always a charismatic and entertaining speaker, explained to us the value of a great brand experience, using insights from Disney.

  • Yours truly, Duncan Cochrane (above), got a little more granular and presented dealers with cold, hard Canadian data on why you need to merchandise your inventory online — yes, you need to take pictures of your new and used inventory, and don’t be negligent over who actually owns the data.
  • Glenn Pasch, a staple in the automotive speaking scene, presented dealers with the How and Why of having a good online reputation.
  • Mitch Gallant shared his experiences and lessons learned from all the crazy things they have tried over at the Capital Auto Group. He might have had the best line of the conference: “They call me the chemist: not because of how I experiment, but because I can turn money into s%#t!”
  • Aleksandra Banas from Lexus of Edmonton showed us the must-use Google tools for your dealership, including a guided tour through Google Trends, Google My Business, and YouTube.
  • Social media marketer and master of props, Ryan Holtz, got everybody energized and then proceeded to have a dealer hold up a huge pair of tighty whities for a creative campaign he ran for a dealer: #dropyourgonch. If you’re a dealer and you don’t like free media coverage, then this was not for you.
  • Search Optics followed with their presentation — we missed out, unfortunately — and judging by the applause, the content strategies they shared were very well received.
  • Then finally the star of the show: Al Awadia from Google. I am going to write an entirely separate post on this because he shared way too much great information about 2014 and what happened.

Like TED talks for dealers, the presentations didn’t stop there.

Breaking up the set list at lunch, we had the chance to hear from both reality TV star Danny Koker from Count’s Kustoms and Steve Chipman, Chairman of the CADA, the latter providing an update on what the CADA is doing on behalf of dealers.

Saturday evening was concluded with a dinner gala where Cameron Chell shared his inspirational story and challenged us to ask ourselves us “What if?”

We had two carry-on bags, seventy-five business cards, five sheets of contracts, a bag of airline pretzels, a whole galaxy of multicoloured dealer pens, water bottles, and letter openers, and some psychedelic memories of an electric string trio playing “Kashmir”…

A 7:45am Sunday flight back to snow-covered Edmonton really makes us hope that what happened over three receptions in Vegas will stay in Vegas again next year.

Event Recap, Western Canadian Dealer Summit

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