Neil Pattemore explains why trade exhibitions are such a valuable commodity for forward-thinking workshop businesses.
At the start of September 2016, the largest aftermarket show in Europe – Automechanika – took place in Frankfurt. With over 42,000 square metres of exhibition space, 4,660 exhibitors and 137,982 visitors, it is truly an awesome event!
The covered space is in 12 halls, several of which are on three levels, together with large external areas for the larger exhibits like car wash equipment and recovery vehicles.
One slight downside of the show’s vast size is that you simply can’t attend the exhibition and expect to see it all in one day, which means that the cost of getting to Frankfurt, plus the (very expensive) hotels, on top of the time out of your business, means that it is difficult for most independent UK workshops to justify a visit.
“If you’re attending a show then I’d recommend planning ahead to meet those you may particularly want to see and to make sure you see the range of seminars and speakers that are relevant to you.”
So, if this is the case, then what are the alternatives for the busy UK workshop and why should you consider attending an exhibition at all?
To answer the latter question first, the old adage of ‘knowledge is power’ is ever-more important and clearly the high level of visitors to Frankfurt confirms that there are good reasons to spend the time and money involved in attending exhibitions, with show organisers and suppliers in attendance increasingly providing technicians with interesting seminars, discussion forums and the opportunity to witness product demonstrations from the experts behind the equipment.
The regional route
In recent times it’s become clear that regional shows (which essentially bring the exhibition to your doorstep) are a popular choice for busy workshops that don’t have the time or resource to visit a more central location that is based a few hours away.
The MECHANEX shows are a popular example of this regional route, providing a well organised and focused aftermarket exhibition with additional seminars that fully justifies a day out of the workshop. You even get a free t-shirt and a bacon roll for your troubles, so what more can you ask for?
One hot topic for diagnostic specialists at these shows is the rapidly developing topic of the challenge of continued access to in- vehicle data via remote communication with the vehicle (telematics) to support new opportunities for location and remote based services such as predictive maintenance, remote diagnostics and enhanced customer support for independent workshops.
Although not unique to the automotive industry, this development of accessing and using data in the new digital era is being called the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and it is certain to change consumers’ expectations on the way that their vehicles will be serviced and maintained. Equally, it will impact on the requirements of those businesses providing the parts, diagnostics, repair and maintenance – the complete aftermarket value chain.
This new era in digital technology is just one reason why it’s increasingly important to get to an aftermarket exhibition so you can look, listen and learn. After all, your future success could depend on it!