What We Can Learn from Car-Part.com

Jun 1, 2024 | Toolbox

Get the most out of conferences and trade shows by following the examples of what works for others.

By D.J. Harrington

I have not written about Car-Part.com in a while but want to in this issue of Toolbox. Recently, at the “We Are One Training Conference,” held in St. Louis, Missouri, we had over 1,000 recyclers packed into the over-flowing exhibit area, that nearly went off without a hitch. Out of 96 exhibitors, just two had issues that URG worked to handle with grace.

Because of a leaky pipe just above their booth, one exhibitor was moved to another location. Those of you who were there know that from the lobby to registration you walked through a construction zone. After that exhibitor was relocated, he was a “happy camper.” He told head of the URG meeting Jennifer McPherson, “It was the best show we’ve ever attended.” He went on to say, “We will be in Florida next year on April
10th – 12th, 2025.” Those statements were made by Mike Reinhardt of Tri Pro Graphics and Packaging. 

Another exhibitor was not thrilled with their location. Unfortunately, it is not easy to please everyone, and some things are out of one’s control. 

But in my experience, I always try to find the positives, instead of focusing on the problems. I advise people in difficult situations to look around to those who do what they do well, and learn from them.

Car-Part.com is a great example to learn from. As an exhibitor, no matter where they are, they do the same thing at every show they attend – and they attend a lot of shows annually. You will see their large black curtain hanging behind their booth. The tables are all up against the curtain with table runners that also say, Car-Part.com. Chairs are in front of the table, each lined up for anyone to take a test drive on their computer stations to see what is new at Car-Part.com. Nothing separates Car-Part employees from show attendees; they are very approachable.

I am happy to report that Tim Schneider, Roger Schroder, and Theresa Colbert were busy every hour of the show. If you have not visited Car-Part.com, check out their booth next time you see them. They are what Shannon Nordstrom and I call, “CANI People.” CANI stands for “Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.” That is exactly what Car-Part.com does. They are always improving and always moving towards better ways to sell more parts.

News flash! Theresa Colbert is the most requested person on our URG podcast. That is a fact. She is a true gift to our industry and would help anybody with teaching other new ways to sell more parts. Theresa is a master at anything “new” that is happening at Car-Part.com. Her secret: She cares about your success and loves to talk about it! 

As an important tip, I advise any exhibitor who struggles with their show experience: No matter the situation, get into the aisle and start conversations with the people walking by your booth. For goodness’ sake, do not be afraid to ask them some questions, like, “How is the show going for you?” or a statement like, “We do this, if someone at your place handles that I’d love to talk to them about their current experience.”

It is imperative that you learn to work a show properly. If you see Commercial Forms, watch Kris DiCarlo and my dear friend Brian Collins engage with the recyclers. They both start a conversation with, “Hi, how is it going? Did you know we carry this?” Simple, isn’t it?

Get out in the aisle and start conversations with the people walking by your booth. For goodness’ sake, do not be afraid to ask them some questions.

Listen, URG and Team PRP did their part to attract over 1,000 people to the show. Your part is to leverage it to generate as much ROI as you can. Sometimes, it is a win; sometimes, it is a break-even; but in my opinion, it is only a loss if you didn’t use the time to talk to anyone. You just never know what simple banter brings when a recycler needs something, and then remembers you.

With 1,000 people, it was a little tight at the Scholarship Auction, but all together they raised over $70,000 dollars for scholarships for the next year because of attendee generosity. It was a tremendous success for scholarships.

OK, my final word. If you exhibit in Reno, Nevada at the 81st Annual ARA Convention & Expo Show, October 23-26, work it like the pros at Car-Part.com! Practice what to say so you are prepared.

Additionally, it is my opinion that you should be in Reno in October and support ARA! Until then, I will see you on the next URG Podcast, the voice of the recycling industry. 

D.J. Harrington is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Phone Logic, Inc., an international training company based in Atlanta, GA. He serves as a consultant and trainer to over 1,000 privately-owned businesses throughout the country, training personnel at all levels of the company, from the dispatcher to the customer service and sales staff. Please visit his website for more information at www.djsays.com.

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