|Each year in April, Auto Dealer Monthly announces the winners of its annual Dealers’ Choice Awards (DCA), recognizing those allied industry vendors that do a superlative job in providing products and services to automobile dealers throughout North America. The important fact to note here is that the selections are made by the dealers and their personnel who have taken the time to vote in 19 categories. It is their cumulative decision that determines the winners.|
The selection of the winners is a laborious task for our staff, as they must sort through, as well as validate, what averages out to be nearly 3,500 votes per category. The tabulation takes weeks. Throughout it all, the differences between the winners of the Diamond, Platinum and Gold Awards sometimes are separated by just a few votes out of thousands. Simply put, I offer my heartfelt congratulations for any company or provider that has been named as one of many winners.
We try to make it easier for our readers to spot the winners than it is for us to process the ballots. For the next 12 months, dealers may find our gold “DCA-Man” logo in the ads of the winners. These companies should be given proper consideration when the time to make a buying decision arises. They have earned it!
The allied industry is certainly not the only place where winners exist. I am frequently asked to address dealer groups and associations, which gives me the opportunity to rub shoulders with my former brethren. I generally (in spite of the travel) consider this a treat, as it gives me the opportunity to get to know many of the true winners in the auto retailing industry - dealers.
These winners are often not as easy to spot as our DCA winners. First, they don’t sport winners’ logos (like the “DCA-Man”), hats or license plates proclaiming their prowess. They usually aren’t the ones that sport the flash and glitter. While they are almost always confident, they generally come across humble and quite unassuming. They may not even be the largest dealer in their market area. They are, however, great business people. They are always highly regarded by their employees and their customers, which in-turn allows their businesses to become extremely profitable. Usually you will also find them actively participating in their communities and/or the industry associations and events.
Many of these winners have been and will continue to be the inspiration and the subject matter of our articles. This magazine and our Web site were founded on the concept of sharing of dealer success stories for others to use as models for inspiration in their own businesses. Who better to showcase than these winners?
This year, between the NADA convention and other engagements, I’ve already had the opportunity to cross paths with thousands of dealers and the privilege to meet many winners, two of which inspired this column. They are both minority dealers and own domestic franchises, and during a period when market share has eroded dramatically, they have been able to grow their already successful businesses. These individuals have great business minds and have attracted good people to work with them, which is a big part of why they’re so enormously profitable. Additionally, they both give back to their communities selflessly. They are true winners.
Winners also won’t quit in the face of adversity. One of these two dealers bought his first store using all his liquidity, which was really just a drop in the bucket for a dealership. He was sold a “bill of goods,” which as it turned out, was a store that hadn’t made money in six years. It was a dual point that included Oldsmobile. When he bought the store, he was told (by the factory) that since the only other Olds store in town had just closed, the store could expect Olds sales to double, which would help restore the location to profitability. Of course, GM then killed off Olds altogether less than a year later. Rather than write a liquidation plan, they wrote a success plan and persevered. What a story, and what an inspiration.
Winners like this are found throughout the industry. More emerge all the time. They are in markets both big and small. They succeed in tough times when others decide to call it quits, and they flourish in good times. They change what isn’t working and continually execute what is, and they’re always looking to improve, even when many would be satisfied with what they have already accomplished.
Congratulations to the 2007 DCA Winners, as well as the many dealers that are the winners in the auto retailing industry. You should all be proud.
Until next month,
Auto retail veteran and F&I products expert Paul McCarthy has joined AUL Corp. as vice president of national sales.