The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and its companion Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX) held each year in Las Vegas are not tailored specifically for independent tire dealers.
They're shows for the entire automotive aftermarket, of which tire retailing and automotive service are but a small part.
Maybe that's why more tire dealers don't attend them. They think these trade shows aren't for them and thus wouldn't be worth their time, effort and expense, especially in late October and early November-traditional busy times for tires sales.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If anything, it's the opposite. Tire dealers should make it a priority to attend this year's SEMA and AAPEX shows Oct. 30-Nov. 2, because it is the only time out of the year when the entire aftermarket gathers in one place.
SEMA and AAPEX are where the action is. Between them tire dealers can visit more than 4,000 exhibitors, including 350 that are a part of the Performance Tires & Wheels section, which is now as big, if not bigger, than the old National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association trade show.
At SEMA, nearly every tire maker doing business in North America has a booth. Most wheel and automotive service equipment suppliers are there, too, as well as the makers and suppliers of every conceivable aftermarket gadget, bolt-on product, piece of equipment and program. AAPEX offers even more automotive service-related exhibitors.
You name it and you'll likely find it somewhere at SEMA and AAPEX. But they're more than simply trade shows. Extensive educational programs abound at both.
Want some new ideas about how to win and keep customers? Boost sales through the Internet? Be a better manager? Build a team? Have more effective counter people? Understand trends in the pickup truck market? SEMA and AAPEX are the places to be.
The shows also are gathering places. While more than 100,000 people attend them, there are a number of tire industry events in which to participate, such as the Tire Industry Association's Welcome Reception, Breakfast With the President gathering and popular ``Successful Tire Dealers Share Their Secrets'' panel discussions.
If business is strong and growing, it may seem like there's no reason to attend this year's SEMA and AAPEX shows. But attending them offers the chance to gain new ideas, find new profit centers and make new friends.
That's a Las Vegas gamble worth taking.