Remember the days of the old NOMDA show before NOMDA became BTA and before the OEMs began having their own individual dealer meetings? This was a single event that brought together under one roof all the OEMs, as well as other companies that were out to capture the hearts and minds of the independent dealer community. It sure was convenient, but was this meeting the best opportunity for dealers? They got to see the new equipment, and if they were aligned with a certain manufacturer, they had the privilege to go behind closed doors and see the newest technology an OEM didn’t want its competitors or competitive dealers to see. For the technology on display in the open areas across the exhibit hall, dealers could drop in and see what their competitors were offering.
Then, the OEMs opted for another path, and over time, one by one, each of the Big Six began hosting its own dealer meetings where each could control who was there, what they saw, and share its specific message with hundreds of its dealers simultaneously in general sessions, small exhibit halls, and educational sessions. That model is alive and well today and will likely continue until those meetings go virtual. But for now, dealer meetings remain integral to updating, educating, and creating goodwill within their dealer communities as the OEMs continue to offer them on yearly or 18-month cycles.
For the past two years, we have asked dealers to rate their primary A3 MFP suppliers as “Excellent,” “Very Good,” “Good,” “Fair,” or “Poor.” If a dealer did not respond, we did not factor that response into our ratings because either they didn’t attend the meeting, or they declined to offer a valid opinion of that event. We then awarded five points for “Excellent,” four points for “Very Good,” three points for “Good,” two points for “Fair,” and one point for “Poor.” We then divided the total by the number of dealers participating from that manufacturer. Canon had the largest percentage (24%) of “Poor” ratings for its dealer meeting with 9 out of 37 dealers giving the company a “Poor” rating. One reason for the “Poor” rating denoted by Canon dealers was because up until this past May the company did not have a dealer meeting. Apparently, Canon dealers viewed that as a negative when ranking the company’s dealer meeting.
Another consideration when viewing these results is that not every dealer representing a manufacturer is invited to these events, even if the dealer identifies that manufacturer as its primary source for A3 products. Those dealerships that might not be invited are usually smaller ones with less than $5 million in revenues. The cost of hosting these events is enormous, and some manufacturers prefer to limit attendance to those dealers that are responsible for most of their business.
No doubt, scheduling these meetings poses a challenge for the OEMs. With only 52 weeks in a year, conflicts are inevitable, particularly for multiline dealers. In any given year, there are up to six OEM meetings, various dealer group meetings, regional BTA events, and user-focused events, as well as dealer incentive trips. Attending those events take time away from running the business. All have value, but sometimes, tough decisions need to be made.
As an organization, we often find ourselves spread thin due to the many events taking place in a given calendar year, and we can sympathize with dealers. However, we do find these events valuable to the dealer community. Indeed, one can’t underestimate the value of networking with one’s peers or face-to-face interaction with representatives from the OEMs, along with the many educational opportunities available.
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