I am excited to host a group of successful international dealers visiting the U.S.
We will visit multiple dealerships and have the opportunity to interact with the key managers, those who help the dealerships obtain and maintain their award winning status.
Without exception, each of these visiting dealers is a good operator in his or her own right. But they want to be better. They want to experience first-hand, the processes and procedures successful U.S. dealers have put in place to help them achieve their high levels of performance.
In my early management career, my dealer principal would return from his 20 Group meeting and tell us about other dealers he had just spent a few days with.
He would tell us how we performed in specific areas compared with them. I must confess that, as a young manager, I wasn't totally enamored with these things called 20 Groups and almost dreaded my dealer's return from those meetings.
Little did I know that not only would 20 Groups become a major part of my life for 20 years, they would and do provide the best dealership educational resource available, period.
It was one thing for me to look at my numbers in a composite and compare our dealership performance to that of other members, but simply comparing wasn't good enough, I had to see for myself.
It is a fairly common procedure for 20 Groups to visit member dealerships together. But then there is an entirely different level, one where individual members, along with their managers, visit other members' dealerships.
During these visits, the visiting managers can sit alongside the host member's staff and actually witness the actions they take to create the numbers we see in the composite.
Often, a bond is established between these two managers and a long-continuing dialog is established. It has been rewarding over the years for me to witness the number of improvements certain dealers have experienced in their operations with credit being given to these visits and having management team's eyes opened to new possibilities.
Two very successful dealers I know well worked for and trained under another 20 Group Member for more than two years before joining their family's business. They both laud the benefit of off-site learning and how much having such a mentor has meant to them both personally and professionally.
So my international visitors will have a full working agenda. We will first receive an overview of the operations we are visiting, followed by a facility tour and in-depth working sessions where the management team will demonstrate their processes.
When planning the agenda for the visit, the visitors' requests were not so dissimilar to that which we locals might request if we were in their shoes.
We will concentrate from an operational standpoint on:
- Finance and insurance products and the menu-selling process.
- Used vehicles' inventory management inventory profiles and outside services that dealerships employ.
- Traditional mechanical service as well as quick service, employee productivity, customer satisfaction and customer retention.
The visitors have requested that we spend as much time as possible on dealerships' social-media processes. I'm looking forward to a visit to a company that provides call center services to dealerships where we will see the process in action and learn about the current technology and planned future technological advances.
Why do I share all this?
Because it reminds me of the value of learning first-hand from the very best. As much as each of us would like to think we have the best processes in place and that we know and employ most of the procedures required to be highly successful, I have learned there is always something more I can learn from other successful dealers.
Veteran dealership consultant Tony Noland is at [email protected]