Fall conference season is upon us in the auto retail business. In the month of October alone this year there are 4 major events – all of which this year time around were held in Las Vegas. In fact, if you wanted to attend all four, you could in a span of two weeks.
Two of those events include the 25th Digital Dealer Conference and Expo, and the 6th Rockstar Auto Conference. In fact, we sat down last week with the purveyor and co-founder of Rockstar – Mat Koenig, and Digital Dealer’s Keynote Speaker – Frank J Lopes.
Two animated guys with incredible personalities. Both equipped with opinions and ammo to boot.
Mat and Frank team up to share highlights from the recent Rockstar Auto Conference – the sixth event under the Rockstar umbrella and their third time having it in Vegas (three’s a trend!).
Enjoy the Conversation!
Notes from the Conversation…
One trend emerging, as Lopes points out, is the enthusiasm and interest in the [Rockstar] event. “It just shows you,” he says, “the movement is there and the engagement is there, and it shows you that people are really looking for this type of event. You know if it wasn’t successful, if it wasn’t moving – I know Mat personally and he would have moved on to something else by now.”
Mat enthusiastically agrees, especially about it being a movement.
“One of the things that we absolutely loved about it,” he says, “is that it’s a movement. This isn’t just about an event…we’re not just trying to change the auto industry. Our focus is on changing lives one by one. Our goal is that everybody who’s part of this leaves with a better quality of life – from the speakers to the people serving the food to the folks doing the AV to the attendees. Everybody’s so focused on their industry and just talking about ‘Let’s sell more cars, let’s make more profit, let’s do this’. Those are all a byproduct – let’s help you be a better human being.”
What about talk of a “Downturn?”
With so much speculation about a downturn in sales this year for the auto industry, we had to get Lopes and Koenig’s opinions on the matter. Industry experts, if that’s what we should call them, swear there’s a downturn on the horizon. Not only do neither Mat nor Frank are buy into this type of rhetoric, they both agree that it (almost) doesn’t matter.
“Thing is, whether there’s a downturn or not, what difference does it make?” Frank asks. “The bottom line of the whole thing is to always be operating at your best and to prepare like a downturn’s gonna come tomorrow, even though you don’t know.”
Mat takes a similar stance. “This isn’t the first time people predicted it [a downturn],” he laughs. “And it’s so funny. One thing that drives me nuts about our industry is people are more interested in being right than doing right. So everybody’s saying ‘Oh we’re gonna have a downturn.’ Well that’s like saying when I go to work today it’s gonna be a shitty day and – what a coincidence it’s a bad day.”
Koenig continues, “I say go to work and just turn the news off. Just because Merrill Lynch or General Motors says ‘Oh we’re not gonna show as much profit’ that has nothing to do with you. That has everything to do with them and what they project for their business.”
The Rockstar Way
Clearly, a positive outlook and readiness to help others is the name of the game for these guys. Focusing on helping others and putting out your best effort is what Frank and Mat are all about. Maybe they’re onto something?
There’s no doubt the auto industry has plenty of challenges ahead. From autonomous vehicles to a surge in ride sharing – the auto industry is being engulfed by an even broader emerging ecosystem – MOBILITY.
Auto retailers, OEMs, and all the businesses supporting this aspect of the industry need to diversify, and look at transportation and connectivity as a whole. Not just “moving metal” as some would say.
Perhaps measuring our success not solely on profit – but also on how we connect and enrich the lives of those around us – will provide the enrichment we’re all looking for.
About the Show
Shouts out to Mat Koenig and Frank J Lopes for all they do in the car business. And for sitting down with us for this conversation.
For more information about AutoConverse ON AIR, our live weekly broadcast, follow this link. We stream live every Wednesday and feature the conversation on the AutoConverse Podcast.