The Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC) hosted its 2017 Automotive Service and Technology Expo (ASTE) on Sept. 29--30 at the Embassy Suites and Convention Center in Cary, NC.
According to IGONC Executive Director Bob Pulverenti, “The event went great! The ASTE is an annual weekend of training, presentations, demonstrations and social events for independent garage owners, service advisors and technicians. It helps our members to have this time to learn, share information, and view the newest products and technology our industry has to offer. When you are in a particular industry, nothing is more helpful than having time to share information and tips with others in the same boat as you are. We received a lot of wonderful responses to the event, and vendors are already excited to return next year after getting such a great response from our members and attendees.”
On Thursday night, IGONC hosted a pre-party at World of Beer in Cary, NC, for early arrivals. The educational portion of the ASTE began on Friday morning with a full-day course on “Getting to Yes with Confidence,” taught by 180BIZ founder Rick White. White’s presentation provided service advisors with the necessary tools for ensuring success in each sales situation.
From 9 a.m.--noon, attendees chose from four valuable training sessions. Maylan Newton, owner of ESI Seminars, focused on delivering superior customer service during “Customer Care and Communication,” while ACDC CEO Craig Van Batenburg’s presentation on “Electrical Analysis for the Confused” helped technicians understand Ohm’s law, volts, amps and resistance. Chris Peace, instructor for AC Delco, provided an overview of evaporative emissions and the systems that control them in “EVAP Diagnostics,” and “Light Duty Diesel: Exhaust Aftertreatment Systems,” taught by CARQUEST instructor Joseph Smith Jr., covered the operation and design of complex light duty diesel vehicles.
During lunch, Chris Chesney of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) presented “Aftermarket Access to OEM Service Information,” discussing current laws that require all U.S. vehicle manufacturers to provide independent technicians with the same level of access to service information made available to their franchise dealer techs, and how these entities can work together to provide the vehicle owner with the best possible customer service experience.
Friday afternoon offered four more sessions from which to choose. During “Strategies for Effective Leadership,” Newton suggested ways to implement effective leadership strategies in order to create a positive, empowering culture for employees. Expanding on his morning session, Van Batenburg’s “Introduction to High Voltage Systems” covered the components used in high voltage systems. In Peace’s “Diagnosing Multiplexed Data Business Networks,” technicians learned to hone their problem-solving skills for serial data failure modes in multiplex networks, while Smith’s “Scan Tool Analysis: Modern Air/Fuel Management” concentrated on air/fuel management strategies implemented in Advanced Tier platforms.
Following Friday’s training sessions, attendees enjoyed an evening of networking with peers at the Hotel Managers Reception, IGONC’s Casino Night and a Hospitality Suite.
According to Pulverenti, “After the classes were through, attendees had a pizza party in the hotel atrium during the manager’s reception, and then they had a great time at our fun-filled casino night. There was poker, black jack, roulette and more, where folks played for tickets for chances to win Amazon Echos, new tablets, camping gear and a lot of other great prizes.”
Saturday morning’s agenda boasted five beneficial learning opportunities. NAPA’s Duane Throckmorton taught important skills for working with “Subaru Diagnostics,” White reviewed common selling errors service advisors make in “Advisor Mistakes and How to Avoid Them,” and attendees learned about “Plug-in Hybrid/EV Tech Tips on Chevy Volt and Nissan Lead” with Van Batenburg. Additionally, Autoshop Solutions CEO Danny Sanchez advised on how to successfully use Facebook as a marketing tool with enhanced targeting during “Reaching the Peak of Your Shop’s Social Potential,” while CARQUEST instructor David Patrick taught techs how to more effectively diagnose a variety of drivability issues using fuel trim data through his presentation, “Scan Tool Analysis: Understanding and Using Fuel Trim Data.”
The tradeshow floor opened during lunch on Saturday.
Pulverenti shared, “We had a sold-out tradeshow in between classes on Saturday with lunch served on the showroom floor, with many vendors joining us for the first time. The showroom was packed, and we even had exhibits that spilled out into the parking lot, with MAC Tools bringing their trucks filled with tools and tool boxes and a gorgeous vintage ‘67 Camaro brought by one of our members. Attendees selected their favorite booths and turned in completed cards for a raffle where many won gift cards, cash, tools, Yeti Coolers and other great prizes.”
After lunch, the final five educational seminars of the 2017 ASTE were offered from 2:30--5:30 p.m. Tools and techniques concerning vehicles plagued with lean codes, rich codes, misfires and more were explored during Throckmorton’s “Fuel Systems Analysis,” and Newton discussed how the right employees aid shops’ competitive advantage in “Employees, Your Future Depends on Them (Finding and Keeping the Right People).”