Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Fresh perspective

By Bill Playford on Aug 14, 2011

How often is it that your non-automotive friends want to do something related to your automotive career? Besides helping take a few layers of rubber off a new Camaro SS, probably not

Colored lenses that often. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when some of my non-automotive friends enthusiastically asked me about going to the Driving Sales Executive Summit. That’s right: the same folks that silently plead for me to shut up about the car business actually want to attend a conference for the car business.

Despite the fact that this will read like a commercial, it’s not intended to. The fact of the matter is that I support any retail automotive event that seeks to help dealer personnel become better at what they do. While some events cover the basics, and others seek to introduce new solutions, DSES always offers a glimpse of the future. Moreover, it seems to take into account the consumers’ angle. Since I’m pushing a decade in the car business, and my experience is 99.9% digital, I don’t like being stuck in the echo-chamber. It’s one of the few automotive conferences that get me excited (and oddly enough, doesn’t have a military theme).

What makes it exciting? Two words: thought leaders. While other conferences take pride in featuring automotive legends, DSES consistently features up-and-comers from the business community at large. Although some may call it highbrow, it’s a place where you might get social media advice from someone with 900,000 followers versus someone with 900 followers. You might get business advice from leading business school faculty versus someone who inherited a turnkey operation. You might get technology advice from those who work in Silicon Valley versus those…who are, um…really good sales people. It offers the perspective of business professionals speaking about automotive versus automotive professionals speaking about business.

As you start to plan the fall conference season, and you are forced to pick & choose, evaluate what you need to get better at. Do you need to get a broad spectrum of basic concepts? Do you need solutions that can be implemented today? Do you need to evaluate new tools? Do you need to learn more about changing consumer habits? Do yourself a favor, and evaluate the speakers and their content before you decide which conference to choose from. Better yet, ask your non-retail-automotive friends (I know you have a few) who would they rather see. After all, you are not selling cars to car salespeople: You're selling cars to real people.

Post script: I have to give a shout-out to the folks at the OTHER conference for cajoling Erik Qualman into being the keynote speaker. Since you are probably like me, and will be attending both conferences, you'll get to see Gary Vaynerchuk, Aaron Strout, Jason Falls, and Erik Qualman speak (along with the usual suspects) in the same week! Who needs SXSW?!

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:


Bill Playford's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Differentiate--or Die!

    Anyone can buy a white Chevy Malibu from any dealership, so how do you get people to buy from your dealership? If you think you must offer the best price, think again. According to marketing gurus Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, co-authors of the book Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition, the most successful businesses differentiate their brands, but not on price.   I know many dealers out there will disagree with me. When I was a General Manager I had this argument with the owner all the time. "If you treat the customers better, whether it's in sales or service, they will pay more for the car." The owner believed we had to be more competitive on price, but I saw it time and time again. Customers bought from us because they liked the way they were treated, not because we offered them a rock-bottom price.   So, how do you decide what your dealership's differentiator is? Here are key tips from experts Trout and Rivkin:   Don't Differentiate on Price, Qua...Read post

  • Helion Automotive Technologies Saves Mossy Auto Group Over $400K by Upgrading IT Infrastructure to 21st Century Specifications

    Timonium, MD -- September 28th, 2015-- Helion Automotive Technologies, a leading provider of IT solutions for auto dealers, today announced that Mossy Automotive Group has saved over $400,000 since implementing the Managed Service Provider's (MSP) data and network recommendations. The San Diego based 14-store automotive group attributes the majority of its savings to switching data and phone carriers, and upgrading its entire information technology (IT) infrastructure.   Like many auto groups that have grown gradually over the years, Mossy Automotive Group's IT infrastructure was not always a high priority. “We have 1,200 employees using over a thousand PCs,” said John Epps, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Mossy Automotive. "For years we added equipment on an as-needed basis, so our network was a literal hodge-podge of PCs, operating systems, network connections and off-the-shelf software."   In 2013, the auto group was expanding at such a pace that the internal IT staff ha...Read post

  • Auto/Mate Presents "How to Create Customer Loyalty Without a Customer Loyalty Program" in an Automotive News Webinar

    Albany, N.Y. – September 28th, 2015 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems ( announced today that its president and CEO, Mike Esposito, will be presenting a FREE webinar titled "How to Create Customer Loyalty Without a Customer Loyalty Program." The Automotive News webinar is scheduled for Thursday, October 15th, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. EST.   "Many dealers rely on customer service training and loyalty programs to build loyalty, but the fact is your customers will never love your company unless your employees love your company," said Esposito. "The best way for dealers to create long-term, profitable growth is to focus first on employee satisfaction, which will naturally increase customer loyalty. In this webinar I'll be teaching dealers how to create a great place to work that both their employees and customers will love."   Jim Treece, News Editor at Automotive News, will moderate the webinar that covers the following takeaways:   1) The proven correlation betw...Read post

  • Still Ignoring The “C Word” Will Cost You

    The "C Word". You know, that word. The one that makes dealership executives' skin crawl, makes sales people laugh, has trainers' mouths drool and absolutely keeps your store from its true potential. It even has female staffers cringing, question working at the dealership. Say it with me....CULTURE. Ignored by only the bravest of souls who understand the kind of wrath and trial it brings. Changing culture takes balls. It takes work. It takes time. And it takes an unrelenting focus as well as undying commitment. We all know it, so why do so few do it? Weak leadership? Lazy management? Not necessarily. Mostly it's due to the lack of understanding what the intermediate goals during and wins at the end of the effort are. You know...not starting with the end in mind. Culture, by definition, is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation ...Read post

  • Celebrating the Aloha Spirit, From Our 'Ohana to Yours (and a Brief Tutorial on Hawaiian Values)

    On September 15th, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems celebrated Hawaiian Day! Many of our employees tell me Hawaiian Day is one of their favorite company events. The day started out with myself and Ken Rock, Corporate Training Manager, wearing a grass skirt and "coconut shell" bra, greeting employees with flower leis as they arrived at work.   Employees were encouraged to wear island wear and festivities included a catered lunch and virgin pina coladas. Later in the afternoon, a Kona Ice truck arrived to serve shaved ice treats.   So, what's the point of sharing this? Because there's more happening here on Hawaiian Day than just eating and the shaking of coconut shells. The reason I love Hawaiian day is because I view it as an opportunity to strengthen our company's core values, and to show our employees an appreciation for what they do every day.   Core values are important because they are the essence of a company's identity, and also the essence of the individuals who work at th...Read post

  • The Dislike Button: Facebook Is About To Open Pandora’s Box

    According to Business Insider, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Facebook is working on - finally - implementing a feature users have been clamoring for for years - the “dislike” button. In the interview, Zuckerberg explained that “what [people] really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment” and that the addition of the dislike button was to allow users “an option to express feelings other than ‘liking.’”   While his sentiment - and goals - are good, I believe that Facebook is about to open a big giant can of whoop-ass. This action could easily become the equivalent of opening Pandora’s box - or Face-mageddon.   Let me explain.   I get it. Someone posts about a death in the family, an illness, an injury or just a bad life experience. We’ve all seen those and hesitate to interact using the “like” button ‘cause who wants to “like” someone’s tragedy? Facebook’s thought-process probably followed the ...Read post

  • Helion Automotive Technologies Finds a Majority of Dealerships Spend IT Budgets on Unnecessary Services

    Timonium, MD -- September 14th, 2015-- Helion Automotive Technologies, a leading provider of information technology (IT) solutions for auto dealers, announced today that results from assessments conducted at hundreds of dealerships nationwide reveal that a majority of dealers are spending their IT budgets inefficiently: spending too much money on unnecessary services and equipment, along with too many vendors, and not enough money on mission-critical services like Internet bandwidth and security.   "This really comes down to understanding what services you are purchasing from different carriers, and a lack of prioritizing service selections from a productivity standpoint," said Erik Nachbahr, President and CEO of Helion Automotive Technologies. "How important is it that your Internet never goes down? How important is it that your phones never go down?"   Nachbahr recommends that auto dealers prioritize their IT spending in the following three areas:    1) Carrier Resiliency ...Read post

  • Auto/Mate's CFO Carole Plant Honored as a "CFO of the Year" by the Albany Business Review

    Albany, N.Y. – September 14th, 2015 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems ( announced today that its Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Carole Plant, has been honored as a "CFO of the Year" by the Albany Business Review. Plant is one of ten CFOs in the New York capital region to receive the award. Every year the Albany Business Review recognizes the top CFOs for their accomplishments and to celebrate the vital role they play in their organizations. According to the publication, the best CFOs are not merely executives who balance the books, but strategic thinkers who identify growth opportunities and find ways to go after them.    "It's nice to be recognized not just for the financial responsibilities that come with the role of CFO, but the leadership responsibilities as well. I love being in a position to lead, coach and mentor our team," said Carole Plant, CFO of Auto/Mate. "This award is an honor but I need to credit our team here at Auto/Mate as well. I believe...Read post