So why are you really here?
I hope you are planning the learning portion of your trip this year. Last year, I heard NABD's Ingram Walters (funniest man in the car business) say over and over "y'all write that down in your book." Ingram is much more than a funny man. He is a very successful operator in our industry, and it serves many people well to listen to him and all of the other speakers at NABD.
Why would Ingram keep asking everyone to write down key points when he is in a room full of business people that paid good money to come hear what was said? It is because the folks at NABD want everyone to take something back to the dealership that helps them improve their business, and not everyone is taking notes.
That should be what we all want, to improve our business. Like everything else in life, your effort directly affects your outcome.
Conference Game Plan
Seriously, do you have a game plan for this conference? You know the old saying, "If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail."
The agenda was available in advance. I hope you have some key questions you want answers to, and you have laid out a plan to make sure you get what you need. This way, when the opportunity arrives to be around an "expert", or a very successful dealer, you are prepared to ask questions.
All the answers you want will be in the room. It will be up to you to find out what you came to learn.
Start with the training tracks and dealer panels. The conference workbook NABD handed out should have every presentation either printed out or summarized for you. This way you can get an idea of the topic, which will help remind you of questions you may have on that subject.
Don't just go into the room and listen to the presentation hoping you hear the nugget out of the program you needed and then move on to the next track. You will hear quite a bit of information along the way, but are you getting your questions answered?
After making multiple presentations at different conferences and also being in the room helping other presenters by gathering questions, I know there are many dealers in the audience, leaving with unanswered questions when the program ends. Shame on you if you do that.
If you do not get your question answered during the presentation or Q-and-A session, then seek out the presenter after the session. The people in the room with microphones helping the presenter are generally knowledgeable themselves or can point out someone.
Find a source and get your questions answered in that room, or find out whom to track down and get the answers later. Be sure the conference workbook provided by NABD makes it back to your office (with notes), so you have plenty of reference material to help remind you of what was covered.
Work the Exhibit Hall
Visit with all the vendors. They paid good money to be in the exhibit hall and truly want to earn your business.
Many of them have been dealers themselves with loads of experience beyond their current field or product and can be very helpful in providing information you may be searching for. When you are speaking with vendors, ask them who they believe are the dealers that are the best at what you want to improve and search those dealers out.
Finding someone that has made all the mistakes and is now successful is the best way to learn the pitfalls and understand what "doing it right" looks like.
That last sentence is the primary reason being in a 20 Group can be so valuable to your dealership success.
Always Talking BHPH
When you are inside the Wynn Resort, whether you are in a training track, the exhibit hall or eating lunch, search out and talk with other dealers. Everyone at the conference has something to share. You may be surprised what experience you have that will help another dealer make a decision or learn something they didn't know.
The peer interaction or networking can be the most valuable experience you will get from a conference. If you establish good rapport with a couple of dealers from another part of the country, you can have a new and experienced sounding board for your ideas and questions year around — from colleagues that actually understand what you're talking about and can offer some sage advice.
If you have a plan and ready questions, you shouldn't leave the Wynn without knowing or having the information you intended to learn and understand. As you move around the building "working" this conference, you should meet dozens of new people and be experiencing a "fire hydrant" of information So remember Ingram saying, "Y'all write that down in your book."
This way everything that happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.
Gene Daughtry is an experienced trainer and consultant specializing in BHPH/LHPH dealership operations. Daughtry now is director of BHPH operations for PLS Financial and has begun a multistate project of building new BHPH dealerships in several states. He has 17 years of BHPH experience. Follow Gene Daughtry on LinkedIn, go to his website www.dealers411. net, email him at gene@ dealers411.net or call (479) 970-4049 if you have questions.