The second Automotive Conference and Expo — now known simply as ACE — brings Canada’s dealers, suppliers and industry experts together to learn, to do business, and to have a little fun too
ACE, the two-day conference and trade show jointly run by the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and Consolidated Dealers continued to grow after its debut last year, and organizers say more than 500 people attended this year’s event.
The event provides a mix of keynotes and breakout sessions with a tradeshow, and lots of entertainment and networking opportunities, which makes it a good environment for doing business.
ACE kicked off with a discussion about the experience economy by keynote speaker Dennis Moseley-Williams. He’s the founder of DMW Strategic Consulting, and the author of Serious Shift: How Experience Staging Can Save Your Practice.
“There has been a shift in the fabric of the modern economy,” said Moseley-Williams. “Everything is always a performance.” Dealers, he said, are producers of that experience.
He said when people visit Starbucks it’s about more than the coffee. It’s about the experience with the barista at the counter. In fact, Starbucks is scaling back on adding drive-thrus because it disconnects their customers from the in-store experience. In this new economy, he challenged dealers to consider what type of performance or experience they are producing for their customers.
A host of breakout session speakers covered a range of topics important to the automotive retail industry, including advice on bridging the gap between the dealership website and service bays, improving F&I processes, understanding Ontario’s violence and harassment legislation in the workplace, and shifting internal processes used to both hire and retain employees. Artificial Intelligence-powered assistants for dealerships
was also explored.
Rick Hansen, Canada’s “Man in Motion” delivered a passionate and emotional keynote that had audience members in tears as he recounted the personal details of his incredible global journey to raise money for spinal cord research, and to prove that people with disabilities could do amazing things.
“Nowhere in the definition of an athlete does it say you need arms and legs to be one,” said Hansen, during his keynote. “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it. In business and in sports you have to constantly bring it.”
“There are no boundaries that can’t be crossed,” said Hansen. “Never, ever give up on your dreams.”
Before his keynote, Hansen also met privately with auto dealers and industry association leaders in a roundtable session organized by Todd Bourgon, TADA’s Executive Director. Hansen outlined details of the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program, that is aimed to help improve accessibility of the built environment in Canada. Canadian auto dealer was on hand for that session and will report on that meeting, including an interview
with Rick Hansen in our May issue.
Other noteworthy sessions included CBC technology expert Ramona Pringle, who delved into the subject of “Preparing the Next Generation for a Changing World.”
A new feature at ACE this year was the Demo Theatre, where suppliers were given only three minutes to deliver an “elevator pitch” for their companies product or services. The presenters included:
- Kijiji Autos: new dedicated online inventory listing site;
- Kimoby: cloud-based texting platform;
- TRFFK.ca: digital advertising agency powered by autoTRADER.ca;
- TireKicker Inspections: an app to build used vehicle condition reports;
- AutoVerify: app for website to power digital retailing;
- DealerSecurity: advanced security technology for dealerships;
- Hunter Engineering: service technology for dealerships;
- SCI: eLead and digital performance training;
- PureCars: automotive digital advertising and attribution;
- AutoLife.ca: an affinity marketplace for automotive consumers;
- TradeRev: digital online auction platform;
- Dealer AI Bot: an artificial intelligent chat bot for car dealers;
- Cox Automotive: Kelley Blue Book.ca.
Apart from the sessions, there were lots of opportunities for delegates to mingle and visit suppliers in the tradeshow that was located adjacent to the conference sessions and break out rooms.
The cocktail party at the end of the first day of sessions featured opportunities for delegates to chat and get autographs from iconic sports figures like Daniel Nestor, Canada’s first ever Men’s Doubles, Olympic Gold Medallist; Doug Gilmour, inductee of the Hockey Hall of Fame; Ray Bourque, a Hockey Hall of Famer and five-time Norris Trophy winner who played 21 seasons in the NHL; and four time NHL All-Star and former Leaf Al Iafrate.
Delegates then drifted over to the Margaritaville club to party and listen to Canadian pop band Honeymoon Suite.
Leadership Coach and NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier closed the show on Thursday with an inspiring keynote.