June '18

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58 THE SHOP JUNE 2018 hen the auto industry looks to bring its newest creations centerstage, it all begins each year in several major cities across the country at annual new car shows. What has proven to be a car enthusi- ast's playground is an ideal opportunity to unveil exciting new designs, technolo- gies and concepts to consumers anxiously awaiting to see what's in store for the road ahead. As a restyler in a major market like Min- neapolis, the annual Twin Cities Auto Show provides our company, Automotive Concepts, the opportunity to bring to market the latest in aftermarket products. CREATING A CUSTOM GARAGE With more than 600 vehicles on display from 36 brands at the show, attracting the attention of drivers during their research stage of the car-buying process has its chal- lenges and benefits. Participating in this show over the past 15 years has proven to be an ongoing learning experience. Taking the temperature of the market each year requires numerous conversations with local dealer groups throughout the year. With the continual increases in online research by potential car buyers, persuading consumers to pay for an event like this demands creative marketing. With some years more conducive to the bottom line than others, the first hurdle when planning to participate in an event like this is typically how big (or small) you go. Coming off a strong year in new car sales steers toward a bigger show presence. Knowing when the time is right for an aggressive move can be the difference between hitting a home run and striking out with the bases loaded. A marketing budget can take a big hit without careful planning, which includes choosing and working with dealership partners, selecting vehicles (models and trim levels), layout and design of the display, and learning and understanding the parameters set by event managers, OEs, dealerships and other participants. Collaborating with GMADA (Greater Metropolitan Automotive Dealers Asso- ciation), we came up with a new concept for the show this year called The Custom Garage powered by Automotive Concepts. This allowed for 39 customized vehicles to be put on display in a 15,000-square- foot room. The process to make it across the finish line in time for the March 10 event was far from a walk in the park. Planning begins immediately after the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in early November each year. There is no better time to brainstorm ideas that will create consumer excitement than after six days of rubbing shoulders with the best car builders across the country. Realizing that a majority of SEMA builds are one-off creations that are rarely duplicated, the design of these auto show vehicles requires conscientious attention to market trends and added value. New tech- nology components found on higher-end trim levels can be installed on lower-level or base models, providing consumers desired features at a more attractive price—acces- sories such as blind-spot cameras and sen- sors, power hatch lifts and lane departure alerts, to name a few. Custom interior design upgrades are another popular category that draw a lot of attention at new car shows. Leather pack- ages allow for a premium look and feel at an attractive price. An example would be the Toyota Camry XSE edition with Cockpit Red interior. From the factory it has an MSRP of $39,000. A leather interior in Salsa red with matching dash accents can be installed in an SE model, along with a blackout roof package and black powder-coated wheels, that comes in at an MSRP of $29,000 for the same look. Show I t 's 58 THE SHOP JUNE 2018 New car shows, like the Twin Cities Auto Show, provide an opportunity for shops to shine, build business and make hay for the rest of the year. By Dino Perfetti Outfitting dealer vehicles for new car shows is a good way to highlight your shop's services. Here, rooftop props like coolers and camping gear help consumers visualize how this vehicle could fit their lifestyle. Time!

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