When I was asked to write about difference makers, I thought immediately of a number of individuals that have made a difference in my career. There have been managers and peers that have helped me get better at what I do. I have had the privilege of working with and supporting some amazing companies. The Business Technology Association has been one of the real difference makers in both my company and my career.
There are a variety of services that the BTA provides, and I will highlight a few.
These are just a few of the benefits that I have been helped by over the years.
Pro-Finance: This course covers financial benchmarks that are used to manage the majority of dealers around the country and also in evaluating the value of a dealership when buying or selling.
FIX: This class covers how to profitably price service and helps attendees understand the financial impact of decisions made in the service department.
Webinars: There seems to be an unending series of webinars on many aspects of our industry available to dealers. Some topics include selling and business development.
Regional and National Events: Every year there are five regional events around the country. One of these will be also designated as a national event. At these events, there is always a number of educational seminars that provide real value to attendees. One benefit of attending that is not usually listed, is the ability to network with and learn from a wide variety of your peers.
Legal Consultation: BTA members have access to Bob Goldberg who has been in associated with this industry for decades. There are also a wide variety of legal forms and documents available.
Industry Trends: BTA provides reports and analysis of the forces shaping our industry and how these may affect the future of dealerships.
Insurance: There are a variety of insurance products available some that are specific to the industry.
Spring Break in New Orleans an Example
I previously mentioned the regional and national events that are conducted. I was privileged to attend and participate in the Spring Break event hosted by the BTA Southeast Region in New Orleans. I will highlight the different parts of the program.
If You Can’t Measure it, You Can’t Manage it
This session was conducted by Gary Lavin and Mike Kirkpatrick from CEO Juice. They highlighted a variety of tools available through their software that helps dealers understand their business better, and to identify areas where they may be losing money, or not achieving the profit they desire.
Millennial Superstars in Sales
This was a panel discussion conducted by Kate Kingston. She interviewed four millennial sales reps who have achieved significant success early in their careers. During this discussion, she explored what makes a company attractive to millennials, the interview process and why they chose to work for their current companies. They also revealed what motivates them to succeed and what companies do that might motivate them to move on.
Keith Lubner provided a highly motivating discussion of what the difference is between a great sales rep and one that is merely adequate. He talked about why many sales representatives have a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs during their year, and why the top performers have a steadier stream of sales.
From Good to Great—Achieving Benchmarks in the Industry
I had the privilege of interview four service managers that have achieved noteworthy success in the difficult environment we all deal with. They explained what steps they are taking to support continued growth in their dealership. We also covered what they are doing to attract and retain good talent.
Vertical Prospecting and Driving More Market Share
Kate Kingston presented a highly detailed description of how to successfully use vertical prospecting to improve the odds of setting an appointment with the correct target in an organization. She highlighted the value of understanding the vertical market and shared techniques to tailor presentations to achieve results.
Put the Carrot Where You Want Your Team to Go
I had the privilege to present this seminar. It focused on how compensation plans in many cases create problems for the company. We talked about issues in sales and service and also how to really motivate maximum performance from all of the employees.
Keith Lubner then returned to cap off the event and he spoke about the impact of emotions of both the buyer and salesperson and how they affect the probability of success. He also discussed techniques that successful salespeople can use to improve their results with this knowledge.
In My Business and Career
Over my career, I have taken advantage of the BTA in several ways. When we started our dealership, neither my wife nor I had any industry experience. One of the best decisions I made was to attend the BTA FIX class. The information I received caused me to reevaluate how I was pricing service. This resulted in significantly better margins and cash flow.
The seminars that I attended at regional meetings shaped my decisions in hiring and compensating sales representatives. The contacts I made in many cases are people who I am still connected with today. The information they shared was invaluable.
One individual that stands out is Ronelle Ingram. She taught my FIX class, and her writing in various journals has helped open my eyes to a variety of challenges that shaped my philosophy on service management. She literally wrote the book on service management.
No One Knows it All
No matter how smart and successful and individual is, there is always more to learn. I am convinced that the path to success in any endeavor is the persistent drive to improve. Part of that process should include participating in and attending industry events where you can benefit from the ideas of others. I like to say I have never met a good idea that I wouldn’t steal and use to improve either my business or my career. The BTA is a source of those good ideas.