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ModBargains Dinan Meet

Wherever their customers are pursuing their hobby, speed shops and other providers of products and services often want to be their, too.


"I group events into two different types: the events we attend and the events we host," said Mike Brown, co-founder and CEO of ModBargains.com and Mod Auto, La Habra, Calif. "We participated in 30 events last year - seven of them were external and 23 of them were internal.'

"The events that we attend are large events hosted at, let's say Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, the Rose Bowl, Irwindale Speedway in Fontana, or Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. These are enthusiast groups like Bimmerfest, SoCal Euro, and Fabulous Fords. We have been doing events like those for 11 years, attending those and setting up our displays.

"Most of these are a pretty significant investment. It's not like you just do it casually; it's a pretty serious investment to look at and schedule yourself for.

"I have a pretty good feel of what type of car enthusiast is going to attend what event. I look at: Is the right type of customer going to be there? What is the cost for the event? What is the anticipated ROI? Usually I don't sponsor a show until I have actually attended it, walked around it, and got a feel for it. I also look at past even photos, look at the past events' Facebook registration pages, and ask other companies about the even - 'Hey, have you been to this show? What did you think? How does it compare to other shows?'

"At these events, we do free giveaways. We have our standard handouts - vinyl stickers, license plate frames, and keychains. If we see a customer that we recognize, we might give them a T-shirt and say, 'Hey, put the T-shirt on and walk around the show with it.'

"We have also done digital signups on an iPad inside our booth. When we do that, we ask people for their name, e-mail address, and type of cars that they drive. Then we do e-mail follow-ups with the people that have registered.

“It's not like you just do it casually; it's a pretty serious investment to look at and schedule yourself for.”

"Some shows will let you sell products; some shows, you're not allowed to sell anything. It's pretty rare for you to sell enough product at the show to get a direct profit from it or even breakeven. The other thing about shows is, people are looking for really, really deep discounts. Still, for every part that you sell, there's usually a few people that saw it, thought about it, took a flyer or business card, and might follow up later.

"The events that we host began about six years ago. Our first open house was in October of 2010, when we moved to our new facility. Then, as we did more renovations, construction, and equipment installs, we started to host a lot more events at our shop.

"Because we work with different pockets of enthusiasts, we do BMW events, Ford events, Audi events... Sometimes we will do an event with one of our suppliers; we'll do a co-op event where the supplier will come out and bring their displays. That brings out a more diverse group of vehicles.

"Sometimes clubs reach out to us and say, 'Hey, we see that you guys do local events; do you mind if we host our car club event in the parking lot?' Usually, I say yes. Probably the most random one I got was a Fiat club event. We don't even really advertise Fiat parts on our website, but a couple of those guys have followed up with us and we have done installations on their vehicles.

"The events that are at our facility are much smaller than the external ones, but they are very high impact because it's at our place. I walk groups of 20 to 30 people in a group around the facility. I give them a tour and point out to them all the great things we can do for their vehicles and why they should choose us. It's my opportunity to earn the local customers.

"We have done some cool things like, 'Hey, pull your car inside our shop; we'll do a professional photo shoot of your vehicle inside the Mod Auto install facility and then we'll edit the picture and send it to you later.' People really like that.

"We have probably put about $20,000 in cosmetic upgrades in the shop. That's not even counting the equipment; I'm just talking about flooring, paint, signage, and everything else to make the shop look nice. Because we have a digital online sales presence, putting $20,000 in cosmetic upgrades into the install shop makes complete sense

"After an event, we have a general reflection point on it. We will even do that analysis as we are talking down the E-Z UPs at the show, especially the external ones where we've spent money. If we don't talk about it right then, we do have our weekly marketing meeting every Tuesday and we will do our best to kind of recap, 'How was that event?'"

By Steve Relyea @ Specialty Automotive Magazine
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