How It’s Done
The terms open house, dyno day, drag race, truck pull, and show ‘n shine aren’t just buzz words in the diesel performance world, they help drive the industry. Whether you’re a manufacturer, drive-in service shop, or even a wholesale parts distributor, you should be hosting an annual event either at your place of business or a local fairground—and you should be working feverishly to grow it.
Make It Memorable
Successful events are the perfect breeding ground for name recognition and staying power within any growing and highly competitive industry. Not only will you sell the heck out of T-shirts and other company paraphernalia, but your current customers will bring potential new ones with them. Remember that notable events create memories, and some even make history. For example, attendees at the 2017 Oklahoma Diesel Nationals will always remember the first 7-second Pro Street pass down the track. And no one sitting in the stands at the 2018 rendition of Rudy’s Fall Truck Jam will soon forget seeing that same truck break into the 4’s in the eighth-mile. While your event may not rival those milestones specifically, an impressive dyno number, a truck pulling the sled out the back door, or a wild pass down the drag strip will forever be remembered by those who saw it in person at your event—and they’ll keep coming back for more.
How to Avoid the “Slow Start”
A lot of events resemble a diesel cold-starting in the dead of winter: they’re slow to come to life. Once they’re up and running things are good, but it’s getting them there that needs some work. For any event, especially a one-day affair, surrendering the entire morning to low spectator turnout is a waste. But how do you get the masses to show up bright and early? You entice them. Don’t simply promise a dyno running all day or a truck pull that evening, offer as many different events as you (and your staff) can handle, and kick at least some of them off as early as possible.
Think Big, Think Blockbuster
For a textbook example of how to pull people out of bed first thing in the morning, get them through the gate, and then keep them there for more than 12 hours, look no further than the Blackout in the Country event hosted by Bean’s Diesel Performance. It’s held in the middle of fall and it might be 40 degrees outside, but enthusiasts, competitors, and even entire families are chomping at the bit to get onto Bean’s grounds when the gates open at 8 a.m. The secret? It starts with swag bags being handed out to the first 100 trucks that show up (yes, the first one hundred!). This simple giveaway entails a sack packed with koozies, posters, stickers, a hat, and other knick knacks, and it had spectators waiting outside the gate as early as 6:30 in the morning.
Non-stop Action, Giveaways, Trophies, and Cash
Shortly after 8:30 a.m., the dyno rollers at Bean’s start turning, followed by the burnout pad being opened up for business, the parking areas for the show ‘n shine beginning to populate, and the manufacturers midway starting to hum at full song. By mid-morning, there are already four places to be and the overflow parking lot is filling up—and the dirt drags, truck pulls, and formal burnout competition are still to come. Throughout the day, giveaways abound for attendees while trophies and cash are handed out to the top finishers. Long story short, there is always some form of entertainment taking place, spectators are rewarded for coming, and competitors who let it all hang out are compensated for their efforts.
Get Distributors, Fellow Shops, and Local Businesses Involved
In our experience, the names you work with every day are the best ones to turn to for support for your event. Be it your wholesale distributor, transmission parts supplier, or your injector builder, most established diesel performance entities are more than happy to contribute swag, gift certificates, product, or even pay to sponsor a specific competition or class. Many others will want to reserve a spot for a booth in the manufacturers midway. The win-win here is that they get immeasurable exposure while you keep the crowd happy, competitors satisfied, and the event overhead paid.
Create the Perfect Atmosphere
Above all else, make the event eventful. Keep both the crowd and the competitors busy with zero downtime and people will remain engaged. Michael Guthrie, the lead coordinator behind Bean’s Blackout in the Country sums up their event-hosting strategy in this way: “Our target is for folks to have fun, let loose, and not worry about the week you just had, or the week coming up. It’s like we’re all kids again, even if only for that day.” With more than 2,500 wrist bands issued at the 2019 Blackout in the Country, Guthrie and his team must be doing something right.