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Resources and Solutions: The 2005 Police Fleet Expo

Written by Dennis Tucker

The 2005 Police Fleet Expo was time well spent according to the more than 400 police fleet professionals who were in attendance, representing 40 states and Canada. Last year’s inaugural Police Fleet Expo may have been perceived to some as a novelty to see how the police fleet market and attendees would accept this new show. The truth is: this show is the real deal! Attendees and exhibitors grew by 25%! The Police Fleet Expo will only get better!

During the attendee wrap-up session we heard, “Thanks for the great show; thanks for giving us what we wanted; we weren’t disappointed; we’ll be back; great sessions; there’s so much to choose from; and thanks for the informal environment which I really like.”

The Police Fleet Expo, held August 17-21, provided 6.5 hours of educational sessions by the Big Three vehicle manufacturers, 15.5 hours of educational sessions, a four hour Ride & Drive, and eight hours in the exhibit hall covering 92 exhibitors and 182 exhibit booths. To say the attendees were kept busy is an understatement! This was all for a registration fee of $99!

Topics covered a wide variety of subjects including technical and management sessions. The vehicle manufacturer sessions were as popular as ever, especially since several new police models were highlighted during the new model class. Technical issues were discussed in the three separate manufacturer sessions addressing service related concerns the attendees provided in advance to the expo and during the agency workshops.

Of all sessions presented, the ones provided by the manufacturers consistently draw the largest crowds because let’s face it, without cars and service information, the fleet manager or service technician would pretty much be out of a job. And besides, where else can you get one on one time with the Big Three to discuss the topics that affect our jobs daily?

These sessions are an excellent exchange of dialogue and provide a great deal information as well as sources of information that new persons to this field may not be aware of. The overall result is an educated consumer and a manufacturer that hears directly from their customer. And let’s not forget about the networking opportunities between the attendees which continue on all day long.

Attendees at the expo rated each session based on a five point scale with 5 being excellent. The average score of all sessions was a 4.0. This was right in line with the follow-up attendee survey in which 88% of the respondents’ rated the conference content as Very Good to Excellent.

What we learned from last year’s event is that you can squeeze too many speakers on a stage at once, therefore providing an information overload. So this year, we kept the number of speakers to a minimum for each topic, allowing for a more cohesive presentation. In addition, some classes were extended to 90 minutes from 60 minutes to provide more time for the speaker to address the subject matter.

Survey results can be dull, but if you have any doubt whatsoever that the Police Fleet Expo is a must-attend event, you will appreciate these. The results were captured online after the event.

How far did you travel? A total of 54% said more than 500 miles, with 42% indicating from 100 to 500 miles. The type of agency represented included 51% Municipal, 21% County, 15% State, 10% other, and 2% Federal. For the length of time at fleet job, 46% said more than 10 years, 22% said 6 to 10 years, 22% said 2 to 5 years, and 10% indicated less than 2 years. As for the job titles, 46% were Fleet Manager or Fleet Administrator, 43% held a rank ranging from Police Officer to Chief of Police, 11% were other, and 8% were Chief Mechanic.

The main reason for attending was Content (37%), Personal growth and development (24%), Networking (20%), Ride & Drive (11%), and Speakers (4%). And, did the expo fulfill your reason for attending? Yes, Absolutely (76%), Yes, but not to the fullest (22%), and No (2%).

As for what influenced you to attend (and allowed to select more than one category), Exhibitors (65%), Price (48%), Location (32%), Speakers (44%), and Recommendation of co-worker (23%). What other shows have you attended in the last two years? A total of 21% said NAFA-LEG, which is now combined with the private sector event, 9% said the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 7% said Police & Security Expo (Chicago). The Police & Security Expo (Atlantic City), COPSWest and National Sheriff’s Association convention garnered 2 to 3 % votes.

The following percentages represent the Excellent to Very Good range: Overall, 94%; Registration Process, 96%; Venue, 88%; Exhibit Hall, 89%; Range of exhibitors, 85% and Ride & Drive (the wet one!), 71%. Do you plan on attending the 2006 Expo? Yes (84%), Not sure (13%) and No (3%). And finally, would you recommend the expo? Yes (97%) with the balance either no or not sure.

Although we are certainly satisfied with these results, especially for a second year event, we will not sit idly by and rest on our laurels. The results identified a few areas we need to improve and as we’ve said all along, “it’s a show for the attendees and exhibitors and we’ll do everything we can to make them happy.”

From another point of view, a survey was conducted with the exhibitors. Of these, 91% rated the exhibit hall Good to Excellent, 84% rated the quality of the attendee from Good to Excellent with the remainder being Satisfactory, and 94% said they plan to be back in 2006.

Of the exhibitors, 100% said they were Satisfied to Very Satisfied with PFE, 78% stated they consider PFE Very to Extremely Valuable at reaching their customers, while the remainder said it was Valuable to Somewhat Valuable, 68% thought the show hours were just right while 32% would like more hours, and 97% said they recommend the show.

Another event that drew rave reviews, even though it rained all day, was the Ride & Drive. It was held at Grattan Raceway Park, about 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. The “Ride” portion enabled attendees to be a passenger while driving instructors from the Grand Rapids, MI Police Department, led by Officer Mike Wierenga, drove through a high-speed road course.

The “Drive” portion allowed attendees to drive vehicles through an EVOC style course to test handling capabilities. A few of the comments from the attendees were: “Even with the bad weather, I got a chance to see how the 2006 Impala handled. The rain may have actually been more like a real-life scenario, excellent Ride, very professional staff. Thanks Mike and GRPD crew!”, “Perfect weather for evaluation!”, and “Comfortable transportation, timely, well organized.”

I want to share a few of the comments from the attendees with you as well. “Excellent show, came away with some new ideas”; “Keep up the good work and try to expand the vendor area”; “I had a great time and learned a lot”; “Expand the training sessions, possibly with some hands-on problem solving”; “Very impressed and look forward to next year”; and “The people in Grand Rapids were the friendliest folks I’ve dealt with in many, many years.”

We certainly owe the city of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Police Department a great deal of gratitude for being our wonderful hosts. It was a real pleasure for us to be in Grand Rapids these first two very important years for the expo. Thank you all!

That was for 2005, now what about 2006? Planning is well under way for the 2006 Police Fleet Expo - “Navigate Your Future,” so mark the dates August 23-27 in your calendar, PDA, computer, or on your wall, because Louisville, Kentucky, here we come! Plans are underway for an even better Ride & Drive event at the Kentucky Speedway so stay tuned for more details on that. Louisville promises to be complete with Southern hospitality and numerous on and off-site activities to keep your attention. Be sure to check www.policefleetexpo.com for detailed information as it becomes available.

Dennis Tucker is the fleet manager for the Illinois State Police and can be reached at DTucker@hendonpub.com.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2005

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