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RVDA Con/Expo attendees during Josh Linkner’s keynote

Highlighted by the keynote presentation by “everyday innovation” expert Josh Linkner, the National RV Dealers Convention/Expo enjoyed a jam-packed day of supplier presentations and the opening of the trade show floor on Tuesday (Nov. 12) at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (To view a slideshow from the second day of Con/Expo, go to the RVBUSINESS.com home page and scroll to the “Industry Videos” section. Photos by Shawn Spence).

While an official attendance tally will come after the event’s conclusion, another highlight was the announcement by organizers that initial attendance figures for Con/Expo already had surpassed last year’s record of 1,660 by more than 3%.

Sponsored by the National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), RVDA of Canada, and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, the Con/Expo continues today with a slate of educational workshops, general membership meetings of both associations, another round of the Expo trade show and the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards presentation ceremony.

Chris Andro of Hemlock Hill RV, Southington, Conn., and chairman of the Con/Expo organizing committee, told RVBUSINESS.com that while it’s terrific that the event can boast another record attendance, the real success is the energy and enthusiasm that was very much in evidence on the first day.

“It started with our keynote today, who really kicked us off with a great message,” Andro said. “And if you were just walking around the Expo floor, the energy is completely charged. It’s high energy. I love it. It’s great.

Josh Linkner delivered a passionate keynote at Con/Expo in Las Vegas

“My goal, since I took over as chairman of the committee, was always to steer the committee towards changing the convention to offer relevant content. And that doesn’t mean we were irrelevant, it just means life in our world is changing so much faster than it used to,” he continued. “Maybe I’m just getting older but our buyers are different. Our way of thinking has to be different. Our reach has to be different. And that was one of the reasons I really liked Josh Linkner.”

Linkner, a Detroit-based entrepreneur, author and speaker, challenged the audience to tap into their inherent creativity and use the power of innovation to improve their dealership operations.

“Today more than ever, we win or lose in tie-breaker situations. It could be landing a new customer, attracting talent, negotiating a supplier deal, working on a new lease. And I would argue that in a tie-breaker situation, a little layer of creativity on top of what your competition is doing can make all the difference in the world,” Linkner said.

Linkner also detailed “five core mindsets of everyday innovation” that dealers could adopt, starting with the understanding that all problems can be solved with creative thinking. “If you throw enough imagination at a problem, eventually you can crack the code,” he said.

Secondly, he said dealers need to be willing to challenge the status quo. “How are we possibly going to serve the buyers of tomorrow if we only use yesterday’s approach?” he noted.

Linkner also recommended that attendees discover a fresh approach and a new way of doing things by breaking a few rules. “One thing that I’ve learned now in 29 years in business is that too often we overestimate the risk of trying something new, but we underestimate the risk of standing still,” he said.

Linkner’s fourth innovator mindset was to seek the unexpected, especially if the result is what turns a good experience into “one so memorable that people are willing to tell their friends about it on Facebook.”

His fifth and final mindset is that no matter how many times “you might stumble, you need to pick yourself up and try again.“ He added, “We’re going to have adversity. We are going to get knocked down. If not, we’re not trying hard enough. But in the inevitable spot when we’re lying on the mat and we’re bleeding and want to just get back in the fight, I would argue that your creativity can help you through that battle. It’s that creative persistence that allows innovators to get back at it and ultimately carry the day.”