I have been blessed traveling around the country meeting dealers at conferences and 20 Groups. From my travels it is clear that dealers and managers are hungry for education and winning strategies.
However, that hunger is not always reflected in dealer budgets and commitments to education for all dealership employees.
A recent PCG Digital Marketing survey indicated that over 35% of car dealers had no line item for employee education in their budgets.
The lack of commitment to education can be seen by the lack of participation for cutting edge automotive conferences. A case in point, one of the most popular automotive conferences is the Digital Dealer Conference. According to their conference website discussing their Fall 2010 Vegas venue:
“We hosted more than 850 dealers and managers at our fall Conference in Las Vegas, coming from 48 states, Brazil, Canada and the Netherlands. … and more than 1,800 total Conference attendees.”
There are approximately 18,000 new car franchise dealers in the United States and many more independent used car dealers. Yet, less than 10% of dealers and likely less than 5% of key employees are sent for cutting edge conferences like Digital Dealer.
Our recent 2011 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Napa attracted 90 dealership employees, workshop leaders, and vendor sponsors combined. We are just scratching the surface. Yet I am encouraged by the responses from conference attendees; they want more!
Dealer principals are not the only ones that should be attending educational conferences and let me add 20 Groups. Most dealers will forget over 50% of what they learned and most will have difficulty translating digital marketing, social media, or mobile technology best practices to their internal team who stayed home at the dealership.
As you know, handing your ISM copies of a PowerPoint presentation does not have the same effect as if they were participating in a live workshop.
Dealership employees that run all profit centers should be engaged with their peers, inspired by industry educators, and educated by best practice leaders. If you consider service, parts, F&I, used cars, and new car managers a case could be made that every dealership should be sending multiple employees out for peer education each year.
Yet, the industry numbers indicate a very different commitment to education. The vendors, educators, and leaders of the automotive industry must do more to encourage dealer commitments to education.
Throughout the year, our industry needs more educational opportunities that are geographically dispersed to reduce travel costs. As the automotive industry relies more on digital marketing, social media, mobile devices, and new communication channels, education will be a prerequisite for success.
We need the structures in place for dealers, general managers, and front line employees to gain confidence in mastering the new paradigms in automotive marketing and operations.
Innovators like Jared Hamilton have announced the DrivingSalesUniversity.com. PCG Digital Marketing has announced the Automotive Internship Program. Industry veterans like Jim Ziegler have successful programs like the Internet Battle Plan.
We need more of these high quality educational opportunities. 90% of the dealership employees that should be involved are not getting the opportunity to engage.
With less than 10% of the employees that need education participating, I see this as an “abundance” opportunity. One could also make a point that since 10% only participate in off-site education, it’s a dog-eat-dog fight for those decision makers and education dollars.
I will prefer to believe in the abundance philosophy; there is so much opportunity for individuals and companies that want to serve car dealers. The market needs more people dedicated to educating dealers with passion and integrity. I am a passionate educator.
I encourage more to step forward to help car dealers master the skills needed for success in today’s changing marketplace.
I hope to see many of you at the 2011 Innovative Dealer Summit in Colorado on March 30, 2011 hosted by Tim Jackson and CADA.
I invite you to attend the 2011 Digital Marketing Boot Camp, April 16-18th in Orlando.
When the Boot Camp ends, make sure you attend the 10th Digital Dealer Conference, which starts on April 19th, just down the street in Orlando.
And don’t forget Jim Zieglar’s Internet Battle Plan on May 18-20th Kansas City.
Make a commitment to education and your investment will be well rewarded!