LAS VEGAS — The National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers wrapped up its first day of workshops Tuesday, and the topic of the day, and perhaps the entire annual conference, was the need for change. 

Such speakers as Ingram Walters, Michael York and more took on this topic in a way that grabbed attendees' attention and had them sitting up and taking notice. 

Another full day of sessions and workshops is planned for today, spotlighting a variety of industry experts offering insights and analysis, and yes, talking about the need to change to survive. 

Tuesday, the exhibit hall officially opened, crammed with all sorts of vendors with colorful banners, technology displays and free giveaways. Dealers wandered from booth to booth learning about various products and services from starter-interrupt devices to funding opportunities and more. 

In addition to vendor presentations, York, author of "Becoming Uncommon: Developing Your Success at the Speed of Life," took the stage. He is a well-known speaker who focused his presentation on the seven power principles that can take any dealer from ordinary to remarkable. And no, this isn't impossible to do in today's tough economy, he noted. 

He offered the ultimatum "change or die." Basically, York indicated that all leadership can be boiled down to changing people's behavior. He proposed the question, "What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act?"

While many may think that they can change, York said this isn't as easy as it appears. 

"Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered the most? Yes, you say. Try again. Yes, you think so? You're probably deluding yourself," he reported. 

"Most of you wouldn't change. Don't believe it? You want the odds? Here are the odds. The scientifically studied odds: nine to one," he pointed out. "That's nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?" 

Walters, a regular speaker and host at the NABD conference, also took the spotlight to discuss "Moving the Needle." They key to his presentation? "Sometimes big is not always best." 

He started off by pointing out that a big move means a big impact. If a dealer elects to open a new store, what happens? Yes there will be increased volume, Walters said, which leads to increased profits. However, keep in mind that this move also decreases cash flow and increases capital needs. 

On the other hand, sometimes it may be smarter to make a small change that has a big impact, according to Walters. Say a dealer increases gross by $200 per unit sold. This also increases profit. Also, what about reducing expense per unit? A $200 drop per vehicle leads to increased cash flow, reduced cash in a deal and increased profits. Sometimes a small change can have just as big an impact. 

"With so many people talking about the industry in negative terms, Walters showed a really positive perspective," Ken Shilson, founder of NABD, told SubPrime Auto Finance News. 

"He did a really good job," he noted. 

Another strong point of the conference was the starter-interrupt vendor presentation, Shilson indicated. This presentation brought together top officials from PassTime Security Systems, PayTeck Pay Technologies and Sekurus/OnTime. 

While many customers depend on vehicles for their livelihood, when times are tight, sometimes it may take some ramped up incentive to pay. Shilson said this panel was quite strong as the executives did not focus on selling their own products, but instead looked at answering questions that still remain from dealers about properly using starter-interrupt devices. 

"Four or five dealers really liked the info and showed a lot of interest," Shilson said. "The workshop offered a big question and answer session where dealers could ask pressuring questions about concerns they may still have with the technology, such as properly disabling a vehicle. The industry appears to be finally getting past its concerns about these devices." 

However, he stressed the key to the day and the focus of the rest of the conference will be helping dealers realize that they can't stay stagnant with their business practices. They must constantly be learning about market trends and evolving technology to stay ahead in today's difficult environment. Quite simply, it comes down to the need for change.