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Virtual Dealership Events: The Silver Lining in Auto Industry Events

With continuing COVID-19 safety procedures and guidelines, virtual events and experiences have surged in popularity in 2020. Trade shows, educational summits, massive annual conferences and even sporting events have all switched to digital experiences.

This trend offers a unique silver lining for dealerships. As virtual events continue to grow, dealerships have been up against the ropes to “do more with less,” challenged to maximize profitability while embracing new ways of appealing to consumers. 

The increasing popularity and availability of virtual events presents dealers with a new opportunity to empower their team to develop the innovative skillsets needed to build strong bonds with customers in today’s new retail era – all while avoiding the previously prohibitive costs often associated with training events and conferences. 

In this blog post, we explore virtual events for dealerships including:

  • Why virtual events matter to your dealership
  • How to choose the right virtual events for your team
  • The best practices you need to make the most out of virtual events 

Why Virtual Events Matter

Prior to COVID-19, your dealership probably engaged in various in-person events and gatherings, ranging from everyday Save-a-Deal meetings to occasional OEM events and tradeshows. It’s easy to see why: These sorts of dealership events are critical for disseminating information and communicating to large groups. 

Today, with most of those gatherings now canceled, or at the very least digitized, some dealerships are opting to forgo attending non-essential events for the foreseeable future, and as a result, are clinging to age-old ways of doing business. This is despite 1 in 3 dealership leaders previously citing training their employees as being a top challenge in a 2019 industry survey

Forward-thinking dealerships, on the other hand, are embracing the new wave of digital events, understanding both that these types of events likely aren’t going away any time soon and they offer massive opportunities to further train and educate their staff. In fact, one study found 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes.  

One major benefit is you can attend a virtual event from anywhere. Usually on-demand, virtual dealership events enable dealers to encourage their team to engage in ongoing education opportunities without the formerly prohibitive costs associated with these events, such as lodging, travel and time lost in transit. 

By encouraging their team to participate in virtual events, dealerships can empower staff to continue growing outside the bounds of their existing experiences. This poses a potentially critical competitive advantage, with research finding 1 in 3 dealership leaders aren’t investing in employee training opportunities beyond what the OEM provides.

How to Choose the Right Virtual Events for Your Dealership

Once you’ve decided to commit to more digital events, you need to determine which events will be the most beneficial for your dealership. 

The first question successful and proactive dealerships are asking constantly is: “Where can we do better?” COVID-19 has, obviously, changed the way business is done, which has presented dealers with a variety of new challenges and opportunities. 

To determine where your dealership can improve, and which virtual events will provide the most value, analyze your current performance. These metrics won’t always be sales numbers, per say. Look at figures that help measure your team’s specific skillsets, such as their engagement with teammates and effective use of resources and tools.

Finally, when choosing the virtual events, analyze who is hosting the event. Just as you wouldn’t take sales advice from just anyone, neither should your team accept sales training from just any organization. Seek out virtual sessions hosted by industry experts, like the upcoming entirely digital NADA Show in 2021. Or, look to your dealership’s technology partner for additional opportunities. For example, Mastermind offers numerous free webinars available on-demand, with topics ranging from pre-owned sales to the service lane.

Virtual Dealership Events Best Practices to Maximize Your Experience

After picking the best-suited events for your dealership and your team, make the most of these car dealership event opportunities by maximizing your experience. 

The first crucial step is to block off the necessary time to ensure your team can sit and engage with the presentation. Dealerships may not have the same number of daily meetings between their staff as some other industries, but setting aside a specific time for the necessary attendees to work into their schedule is important for success. (Not to mention, it will show you respect their time!)

Setting a dedicated time also helps in another crucial aspect to successful meetings – eliminating distractions. During in-person events, speakers and presenters regularly include engaging breakout sessions and create an environment where the only thing attendees need to focus on is the event. Working with your team to set aside a time in their calendars, and providing secluded, quiet places to participate, will increase engagement and overall retention of the information presented. 

Dealerships looking to proactively respond to the new, constantly changing business landscape are engaging in regular virtual events. Rather than sitting back and hoping their teams are finding inspiration and information to develop their own individual plans, these dealerships are leveraging new digital options to find incredible success in an otherwise frustrating time in history.


Interested in learning how Mastermind’s training programs and webinars can support your dealership’s continued learning initiatives? Contact us today to learn more.