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Getting Face Time in the 12-Volt Community
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As we trudge along in the pandemic world, the importance of a positive outlook is needed more than ever. Luckily, sales in the 12-volt arena have been strong. Who would have thought one of the biggest hurdles would be sourcing product?
BY BRETT SOLOMON
Back in July, I am sure you were facing the problem of sourcing amplifiers and woofers from any source. Distributors were wiped out. Even though sales are good, I am sure we all miss the old way of doing business. But we will eventually get back to normal, with time – especially regarding that all-important in-vehicle demo. Even if demo vehicle plans are on hold, the same talent used to build your store’s rolling masterpiece can help bolster the demo room. Creative sales displays are helping retailers move product. Earlier, we looked at an Alpine retailer who sold three new Halo units just on the new display his team created for the store.

Although customer traffic is up, the sad thing is that the amount of auxiliary people coming through your shop has probably decreased – especially visits from traveling reps who we all want to remain safe. Chris Cook, director of the Mobile Electronics Association, notes, “I look for good data sources and try to understand how best to protect myself and others [when it comes to KnowledgeFest]. As it relates to retail stores reopening, many of you have figured out a process with which you feel comfortable. Bottom line: It’s your business, and you need to do what you feel is best for you, your team and your customers. Your suppliers have done the same. You may be experiencing less in-person visits from reps and suppliers. I believe many of you would say that those relationships benefit from seeing them in your store — much like when it comes to seeing your customers in your store. There is no substitute for selling and servicing in person. So, until we can do this safely, we will all suffer the consequences of separation. Unless we find a way to replace this, we must look to innovative ways to regain this important socialization.”
When Will We All Be Together Again?
The 12-volt community looks forward to the main KnowledgeFest event every year in late summer. The Dallas show has been postponed until Dec. 4-6, and as of this writing, it is full steam ahead. Cook added, “Long Beach was a success this past February. Later this year, we should all look forward to seeing one another at an incredibly special event for our industry — KnowledgeFest Dallas. The move to later in the year was strategic. We felt this was the best chance to hold an event that we all could enjoy. Yes, I hear the news and review the numbers. Here’s what I can tell you: There are brilliant people creating new ways to allow us to come together at an event, in person, without great risk to our health. You will see these practices in action at KnowledgeFest Dallas.”

Dallas makes sense as the show to do it, because it has the greatest number of potential attendees within driving distance. Cook said he is bullish on the event: “As we look to the future, we can anticipate a different landscape for live events that takes a sharp focus on physical distancing, sanitization and communication. We anticipate, at least in the short term, for COVID-19 to alter overall participant engagement and interaction, but we believe through thoughtful and intentional planning, we can still create a successful KnowledgeFest that connects participants in order to move our industry forward.”

The event will have health and screening checks for all participants to maintain a clean environment and maintain emotional comfort for all who enter. Cook is looking forward to “creating our safety pod for our industry at the event.”
The CTA has made CES an all-digital experience. Additionally, SEMA canceled its show for 2020. President and CEO Chris Kersting noted, “The SEMA Show is committed to furthering businesses in the automotive specialty equipment market, and to providing manufacturers and buyers with the best opportunity to connect, promote new products and discover new trends. We appreciate the spirit, hard work and innovation our industry puts into the SEMA Show each year. While we are disappointed circumstances prevent us from hosting the show in November, we look forward to getting everyone together in 2021 for an outstanding event.” So, for 12-volt retailers who are looking to see product hands-on and in installations, KnowledgeFest might be the only place to do it. We all hope the show goes off safely. SEMA was originally gung-ho on hosting the event, but their attendee numbers are staggering at over 150,000 people coming through the door. KnowledgeFest, on the other hand, can keep the attendees spread out among the sessions, breakout events, and the show floor.
Our section of the consumer electronics industry has always been hands-on. We work with customers dropping off and picking up their vehicles. We work with reps so they can show us how a new security system integrates in multiple vehicles and applications. We are also face-to-face with our employees in the installation trenches every day. Chris Cook sums it up, saying, “Industry trade events are important because they provide needed education, networking and face time with others including your suppliers. These events like KnowledgeFest represent the best our industry has to offer, and just like reopening your store, they will have processes in place to allow all of us to enjoy connecting with each other in a way that can only be accomplished face to face. I hope to see you all very soon to celebrate our successes!”
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