This past weekend, my team and I took a trip down to Kansas City for the Vision Hi-Tech Training and Expo that is put on by the Midwest Auto Care Alliance. First off, this show is amazing. It is one of the better run shows that I've been to and I seem to attend a lot of them. If you're in the aftermarket automotive business and don't currently attend this show, you need to make this a priority. The MWACA team has their priorities in line and you can tell when attending. Secondly, it was extremely refreshing to spend a weekend talking to people who were as passionate about this business as I am.
You see, at times the day to day grind of the service repair business can grind people down. It's a tough business. We currently sit in the middle of February in Wisconsin and you can tell that people are getting cabin fever. They want to get outside but the current sub-zero weather isn't allowing them. It's flat out cold and this magnifies some of the struggles we incur even more! Now, we deal with shops from all over the place, so it's not this way everywhere but it does feel like a lot of people are feeling the effects of a rough winter….including me.
As a company, we've got a lot of growth oriented initiatives that have everybody running a million miles an hour. We've added folks to our team during this time and we get to go through the normal growing pains that small startups tend to go through. I love this stuff and my life is driven by it but sometimes the constant stream of negativity brought from television, the internet and social media is draining.
This is why the trip to Vision came at such a good time. We had just added a couple of people from outside the industry to help us with our sales and marketing, and I had them come along for the trip. After all, they will be most likely attending quite a few of these types of trade shows. The expo portion of the show started on Friday night. We had a rush of traffic to our booth (special shout out to Tanner Brandt) and spent the night chatting with some of the most passionate people in the business.
This is like Heaven for me as I got to geek out, listening to people far smarter than me talk about the latest in the automotive service business. Techs and Mechanics filled me in on the latest happenings of their shops, which is nice to have not being in a day to day environment any more. It was also refreshing in that we weren't there to recruit Techs but more to teach shops about our ASR Program. I think this took away the guarded tone that can happen when somebody thinks you're trying to sell them something…so, I was able to just sit back and talk shop with all of these amazing Mechanics.On top of that, there were a high number of educators in the building as well. Hearing about their training programs and how much it is changing was extremely interesting. The passion that educators have for this business is crazy, and I happen to love that.
Our conversations with shop owners and managers were fun as well. Much of what we have done with our business is moving from selling full service recruitment programs to educating shops on long term strategies focused on solving a long term problem. Our Assisted Self Recruiting Program is so helpful for these shop owners and it's fun to chat about it…but it was hardly the focus of many of our conversations. My team and I went into full out listening mode to learn about shops and the struggles they have.
And then we did the same thing Saturday (although much less busy).
On the ride back to Wisconsin from Kansas City, the four of us that made the trek down had a great discussion to recap the event and gather our thoughts. What came out of our conversations was bringing something to light that I had kind of grown to take advantage of…how crazy passionate the people that attended Vision were. As I mentioned, half of the staff that we took down had very little exposure to the industry prior to the event. Heck, our new Director of Sales, Kate Beirowski, had only been on the staff for a couple of weeks prior to going down. What resonated with each of them was how intensely passionate and focused the people in the automotive repair business are. Throughout the expo, my team commented on how fun it was to see the passion in people voices when talking to them about the business.
I left the expo reflecting upon all of their comments, and they are absolutely right on all of them. Our industry is in amazing hands right now. We (I) tend to complain on an all too regular basis about everything that is wrong and fail to look up and see the progress that is being made. The collection of truly amazing and talented people in our industry is incredible when we actually stop and take a look at it!
On top of that, it was really fun to see a couple of our new faces get exposed to them. To see the passion, the drive and how nice people are in this business. It was motivating to them and refreshing for me. My own passion bucket is filled to the brim again and I can't wait to work with and grow relationships with all of the amazing people we were exposed to over the weekend.
On a side note, it is definitely worth checking out our Instagram page. With the help our own Kim Austin and Matt Reynolds, we were able to create a lot of hilarious content with advent of Matt's new alter-ego, Mergin' Matt. Really good stuff.
To all of you that attended VisionKC this past weekend, including my own team, I simply want to say thank you. Thank you for keeping the passion in this business and continuing to show how great this can be. You're an inspiration to us and it's great to hear that we're on the right track!