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AutoCon! Wow! What a success!! (at least from the attendee’s side!)

As a 26 year retail veteran who has attended God-knows how many conventions, events and factory meetings in many countries, and as a speaker and trainer at my own events  with experience in everything from selling the ticket, arranging the venue, food, video and planned bathroom breaks (seems like some car guys decide to ‘hold it’ another hour to get that cigarette in!), I have to take my hat off to Ralph Paglia (does he write to any of you every day? Or just me? Just askin’!), Carrie Hemphill of World Class Events (and everything WAS world class. From getting my ticket organized to needing a cell charger between sessions, and whatever else had me looking lost wandering around….) and Chris Saraceno from dealerElite (we met at NADA and DigitalDealer prior).


I could only imagine trying to corral hundreds and hundreds of “focus challenged” car-guy attendees (hey we all needed the agenda signs every 20 feet right??? I had one folded in my pocket and still kept checking myself!).


And Ralph and Chris were ambitious/crazy enough to do their own (excellent) workshops while keeping the whole thing spinning (and making it look easy)! WOW is all I can say!


I would have to call this a 10 out of 10 success. That’s all I kept hearing “on the street” and the bet is double attendance next time. I know that the above mentioned plus the Pasch clan (By the way I totally RESPECT the respect that the brothers showed for their precious parents at the event. I lost one recently and am so happy to see they were invited and saw their son’s success. 2 hats off!). Ralph had a few moments where he had to pull rabbits out of hats but the thing that kept showing up for me was the family like camaraderie and teamwork. And I don’t mean this loosely. I mean many, many people were obviously vested in and caring about the organizers and jumped right in to say, speak when another speaker was detained (actually stuck on the tarmac! ).


I saw David Lewis (been reading his book for years. Don’t die before seeing him speak! Speaking of don’t die yet…another “must see is XRM’s Patrick Kelly)  And my old Clearwater friend Grant Cardone (as fun and inspiring  as always…)…but these guys did extra sessions with zero notice and it was so obvious for the “cause” and what’s “the cause?” It’s when someone you care about, a relationship needs something. And relationships they were. Very obvious. This could not fail. Auto-Connections…how ‘bout that?


An absolute treat to see “Everybody’s All American” Jim Ziegler get recognized!


VIN Solution’s Sean Stapleton was excellent and great material and visuals.


The powerful Dave Anderson crushed it while competing with lunch! Why isn’t HE running for president?? Reminded me of Regan! (can we just get him in for another term?). I want my kids to spend 2 months with him. I’m sure I’m too soft on them!


Anyone catch A.J. LaBlanc’s Video Pre-Roll presentation? If you missed it, learn about it.


I will never wash my right hand again after shaking hands with Jim Flint in the hall, I don’t remember what we talked about but he was  very personable and who knew I was taking to a celebrity?? Point is, I’m not trying to make this an automotive Woodstock Love-In but, the vibe was groovy no question.


Is it just me or is Colorado ADA’s Tim Jackson everywhere? We met at Nada a few years ago as well. Want to meet people? Just follow him around! I look forward to his Innovative Dealer Summit event surrounding the Denver Auto Show. His workshop on Getting Vendors to Aggressively Compete… was excellent info with heavy audience participation and had me leave kicking myself for the time I wasted in stores not using his described method.


Phone Ninja’s Jerry Thibeau was as hospitable as he was when he was ‘nobody’. Great advice and generous with the intros. He deserves and has earned every bit of his company’s excellent success! And why not? No one else can master what he does! In a class by himself.


Brian Pasch and the Google Analytics simply taught me “HIRE SOMEONE LIKE BRIAN!” What a lot to manage and keep track of. And even though he explained it in a very understandable way, I’d rather (insert duty)!


The Aria hotel was perfect and completely appropriate for an event of this caliber. Great service and food services. A dealer-client suggested Jean Georges Steak Restaurant and it was excellent. There were 3 of us and I didn’t hyperventilate at the bill only because during dinner he said he would do business with us! I also saw celebrity diners Stan Sher (dealerEtraining) and Jason Thomas (Classic Cadillac) The next night I took another dealer there who said he was a “steak snob” and after letting me sweat it out, he gave 2 thumbs up. No contract yet but he has to see how long he has in a (*ahem*very well known) chat provider contract before he can ‘upgrade’ to us! If I get both deals before the Amex bill hits, my job should be intact for DD and Driving Sales and BDC 20 GROUP!!


(I also met GREAT vendors and dealers at the lunch times, BOSS THOSE WERE INCLUDED!)


Thanks and hats off to all!


Jeff Sterns

VP of Sales & Business Development

Toll Free:  (800) 510-7567 ext 702

Mobile: 727-638-0069

Fax: 800-430-1535      

"Helping car dealers sell more!"


Views: 417

Tags: Auto, AutoCon, CarChat24, Chat, Dealer, Paglia, Ralph, Software, auto, car, More…dealership, leads, websites


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Comment by Shereef on September 17, 2012 at 8:54pm

Next year I will make sure to be at Auto Con 2013. Jeff was feeding me updates while in Vegas as I was glued to my computer. Wish I could have been there by his side meeting all of you! We will have a lot more to talk about in 2013 after 18 months of new software development :-). Any idea where and when the next Auto Con will be held?

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on September 17, 2012 at 6:09pm

Jeff, Thank you for the kind words, it's always a pleasure seeing you. Yes, AutoCon was a great event and I can't wait to do it again next year.

Comment by Tom Gorham on September 17, 2012 at 4:25pm

Jeffery, loved your review.  AutoCon was everything you said and maybe more.  It was the best organized event I've been to.  My biggest regret is that I couldn't possibly see all the speakers I wanted to see.

Speaking of hyperventilating.  I took time to eat at the Blossom Chinese Restaurant.  Oh so good!  But I did start to hyperventilate when I saw the bill!  But hey, I got it under control and kept my cool and gladly parted with my money.  Top knotch!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on September 17, 2012 at 1:58pm

Jeffery, thank you for this review article... It is pretty tough for me to put into words how much your support, and the contributions of so many people to making the AutoConnections Conference and Exposition a success means to me.  This event was TRULY a labor of love and your description of the camaraderie, mutual respect and teamwork that this conference exemplified is the best I have yet seen... THANK YOU from the bottom, middle and top of my heart!

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