An NADA booth isn’t for everyone, but the convention is

ORLANDO -- Meeting up with EasyCare’s CEO at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention is not easy.

I tracked him down at the NCM Associates booth.

That’s because EasyCare is boothless.

And that’s just how CEO Larry Dorfman wants it. Dorfman has never had a booth at the convention, he says. And while he supports NADA, a booth isn’t practical for his business, he says.

“For us to build the kind of booth and presence that our name requires us to have, it would cost a fortune,” Dorfman says.

EasyCare is the trade name for Automobile Protection Corp., based in Norcross, Ga. The company offers aftermarket products such as extended-service contracts and GAP policies as well as dealership training.

Dorfman estimates it costs vendors $100,000 to upward of $300,000 to have a booth at NADA for the entire convention period. The NADA says it charges tiered pricing for exhibit space, ranging from $26 to $35 per square foot.

Dorfman says a booth would likely only attract his current customers and very few new ones.

“We get new customers in the streets,” Dorfman says. “You have a one-on-one with them at their store on how to run their business.”

Still, the convention itself does provide Dorfman and others opportunities to win new business.

That’s why Dorfman ditched the booth idea again this year but still showed up in Orlando. He partnered with NCM Associates, Shell Lubricants and Covideo, a company that is part of EasyCare, to produce a daylong training session on Friday at the Hilton. The 270 dealers who attended paid $499, he said.

There were five speakers who discussed various ways to improve operations and were available for one-on-one sessions, said dealer Michael Love, who attended the training program officially dubbed The Best Training Day Ever.

“It’s the whole reason I came to NADA, the opportunity to see all these speakers in one shot,” said Love, CEO of Love Automotive Group in Columbia, S.C., as he walked the convention floor Saturday.

Producing the training day cost Dorfman and his partners a fee “comparable” to what Dorfman says a booth would cost.

But of those 270 dealers, he says, just 15 percent were his current customers.

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