This year will be my third F&I Conference and Expo.
Whenever I talk about the two previous shows, I can’t help but tell the story
about how one attendee at the 2006 show raised his hand during a compliance
workshop and said, “I’m afraid to go back to my dealership.”
Now, I could put together a top 10 list of reasons why you
should be at this year’s conference. But I think there’s really only one reason
why you should be making arrangements to attend the magazine’s fifth annual
F&I Conference and Expo.
The conference is scheduled for Sept. 16 and 17 at the Paris
Las Vegas Hotel. Those dates alone are important because we should know by then
what the F&I business will be like for the rest of the year. That’s right,
we’ll know whether finance companies will tighten up even further, and whether
dealers will be able to move a vehicle, let alone a vehicle service contract.
So why does that make attending our show so important? Well,
because you’ll have a chance to meet, hear and talk to some of the leading
finance experts in the industry. Yes, we’ll have our annual captive and
non-captive finance roundtables, but the discussion shouldn’t stop there.
Exchange a card or two, pull our panelists and workshop presenters aside and
ask them some questions. That’s why we bring them to the show every year.
The value of any industry event is the ability to network
with the rest of the industry. And hey, our conference was named one of the 50
fastest growing shows last year by Tradeshow Week magazine. So I think we know
how to attract the industry’s movers and shakers.
This year’s show will be a little different, too. We’re
bringing together four separate conferences into one location. There’ll be a
conference dedicated to the magazine’s sister publication, Special Finance.
We’re also staging a special show for our new Powersports F&I publication.
We are also once again staging the Vehicle Service Contract Administrators
Conference (VSCAC). Basically, anyone who is anyone in the F&I business is
going to be there.
Now, I know I said there was only one reason for you to
attend, but I do have a couple of other reasons why you should go. For
instance, we are hosting two pre-show certification programs presented by the
Center for International Retail Automotive Standards (CIRAS) and the Automotive
Dealership Institute. One program will offer F&I certification and the
other CSI certification.
And you should see the instructor lineup for the F&I
Certification workshop. It includes CIRAS’ Dr. Robert Serum, Northwood University’s
Dr. David Fry, Hudson Cook LLP’s Thomas Hudson and Emily Beck, ADI’s Arzu
Algan, and Connection Insight’s Marguerite Watanabe.
Sandwiched in between both workshops is a special Red Flag
Rule symposium. Now I know compliance isn’t what drives people to a conference,
but I promise you this symposium is something you just can’t miss. Remember,
the Red Flag Rule officially goes into play on Nov. 1. That’s why we gathered
some of the top compliance experts in the industry, including AFIP’s David
Robertson, gvo3 & Associates Gil Van Over, PatriotDealer.com’s J.R. Wilson,
Mosaic’s Jim Ganther, and NXG Strategies’ Scott Smith to discuss the effects of
this new rule.
There will be other compliance experts at the show to
discuss other regulations governing the F&I office. I’m sure the Red Flag
Rule will be a major topic of discussion during those presentations as well.
The show will kick off Tuesday at 1 p.m. with George Borst,
Toyota Financial Services’ president and CEO. I heard Borst speak at the
Vehicle Finance Conference last February. He didn’t mince words about the
challenges we face. But after listening to him speak, I felt pretty confident
the industry will survive this current downturn.
Also confirmed for our show is David Cole, chairman and CEO
of The Warranty Group and chairman of Resource Automotive. He gave a great
speech last year that really hit home. He addressed F&I product sales, but
also made some very strong statements about why we need to continue to invest
But like I said before, the real magic will be taking place
in our exhibit hall. I’m not talking about the masseuse station or the martini
lounge, although you’ll probably find me roaming around those areas. I’m
talking about the discussions taking place on the show floor. You know, the
ones where dealers share with each other about new strategies they’ve
implemented at their store.
In fact it was last year that I heard David Robertson
talking to dealers about an inexpensive way for them to dispose of their
customers’ nonpublic information (see our story on page 30).
Anyway, those are a few reasons why you should attend. I’ll
see you on the show floor. I’ll be the guy running around with the camera.