This year promises to build on the growth from the last few years as our industry has pulled back from the brink and returned to profitability after being hit especially hard by the Great Recession. The dealers in business now are the ones that have learned to use new technology, communicate with customers in ways they never had to before, and efficiently run their businesses, no small task considering the obstacles along the way. This is not the time, however, to be complacent.
The immediate crisis of the Great Recession is slowly receding in the rearview mirror, but the auto dealership industry, more so than many other industries, is being forever changed by the internet. From online classifieds and email to social media and online chat, the internet affects every aspect of an auto dealership. Fortunately, many dealers learned from the advent of dealership websites that they need to be an early adapter of new technologies to really create a competitive advantage.
Dealers who got on the web first, were the ones that were able to reap the most sales from online, those who waited had to play catch-up. Today’s progressive dealers are still trying to keep ahead of the pack, this time with social media and mobile marketing. Just like when websites were new though, many dealers are unsure of how to take advantage of these new technologies. This time, however, dealers know they need to stay abreast of the latest in tech and online and if you’re attending NADA 2012, it’s the perfect place to do it.
The NADA 2012 Convention and Expo offers a myriad of workshops to learn and connect with experts, no matter what your needs are. The workshops are divided into seven different tracks: “Executive Leadership,” “Managing Your Resources,” “Legal and Regulatory,” “Internet Solutions,” “Sales, Leasing and Finance,” “Parts,” and “Service.” Which workshop and tracks are best for you depends on your dealership, so we’ve outlined the different tracks to help you decide.
The “Executive Leadership” track is only available to executive/dealer level personnel. The topics covered in this track will include “Tax Law Changes and the Value of Your Dealership,” “How to Fulfill Your Customers’ Unexpressed Wishes,” “Walk Softly So You Can Listen: The Art of Leadership,” and “Construction 101 for the Auto Dealer.” All of these are important topics, but Jeff Hargett’s workshop, “How to Fulfill Your Customers’ Unexpressed Wishes,” promises to be one of the best.
Jeff Hargett was the highest rated speaker at NADA 2011 and this year’s presentation promises to be just as informative. The workshop will teach dealers how to increase their customer service without spending a lot of money; in today’s auto industry with razor thin profit margins and demanding customers, this is something that all dealers should be looking into.
Managing Your Resources
“Managing Your Resources” is another track that dealers looking to grow their businesses should be sure to check out. Topics will include things such as “2012 20 Group Best Practices” with NADA 20 Group’s Lycia Jedlicki and Chip Maher, “Top Game Changers That Will Make You Money,” with Jeff Sacks, one of the country’s foremost authorities on dealership operations, and “How to Reduce Your Operating Costs,” with Steve Emery of NADA 20 Group, McLean, VA.
The workshop from this track that sounds the most compelling to me is “Recruiting, Managing, and Retaining Gen Y Employees,” presented by Nicole Lipkin, Equilibria Leadership Consulting and Mark Rikess, Rikess Group. Generation Y is all grown up now and if you want to sell them cars, you need to be able to communicate on their level. Who better to do that than someone from their own generation?
Legal and Regulatory
The “Legal and Regulatory” track may not sound like the most exciting track available at NADA 2012, but with topics such as “Legal and Financial Issues When Buying or Selling,” “Exploring 2012 Tax Issues with Industry Experts,” and “2012 Update on Federal Regulations,” it might be something that you can’t afford to miss.
The “Internet Solutions” workshop track is one of the most anticipated of this year’s convention. The workshops in this track promise to be some of the most useful at the convention. Two of our own expert writers are even presenting workshops this year: Brian Pasch of PCG Digital Marketing, will be presenting “Ten Digital Strategies That Work Now,” and Jared Hamilton of DrivingSales.com will also be offering his workshop, “The Five Most Important Digital Reports for Dealers.” I would like to recommend both of these. Brian and Jared are both experts when it comes to social media and their classes are sure to help you succeed in the online sphere.
Several other courses, including “Improve Your Online Reputation!,” with Matt Muilenberg of ADP Digital Marketing and “How to Digitally Engage Car Buyers” with Peter Leto and Kim Stonehouse of Google, Inc. also promise to help dealers with their ongoing digital marketing efforts.
The final three tracks are “Sales, Leasing and Finance,” “Parts,” and “Service.” These are three essential profit centers at every dealership and they shouldn’t be neglected even as new technologies help your business grow. Topics such as “Use Phone Calls to Set Appointments that Show,” “Parts and Profits: Basic Steps to Selling Online,” and “Service Performance: Make a Lasting Impression” are the backbone of your dealership; don’t neglect them.
Several of our advertising partners will also be exhibiting at this year’s convention. You can read more about them on pages 16 and 17 of this issue. They include AVA the Automated Virtual Assistant (booth #1315), c-Demo (booth #3378), Dealer.com (booth #3301), Dealer eProcess (booth #3622), and Digital Air Strike (booth #3388). We recommend checking them out; they have some excellent products and advanced technologies that can help your dealership succeed.
Of course, we’ll be there too! If you see us out on the floor or in the workshops, be sure to say “Hi.” And if you see me at the poker table, try to take it easy on me!