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Shades of Ed Sullivan

Back in the days of black and white television there was a show that began in 1948 called the Ed Sullivan Show. Ed was a colorful former entertainment columnist that became an icon for Sunday evening television. His show, which ran until 1971, featured nearly all the big name entertainers and was where the Beatles first appeared on American TV, making them an instant sensation. Every week, Ed would begin the show with a monologue outlining the various acts that would appear, starting off with the exclamation, “We’ve got a really big shhhoooow for you…”

Certainly, that same exclamation should be used for the 2008 NADA Convention set to take place in San Francisco in early February.

I have attended many NADA conventions throughout the years. Each one seems to outdo the last. It is a melting pot of the industry: the dealers, the manufacturers and the allied industry all under one roof. For those who attend every year, I am preaching to the choir. For those that don’t – are you kidding me? This includes my independent dealer friends.

There are those that say they don’t have the time to attend. You probably don’t have the time to train or log traffic either. There are plenty of things we can use that excuse on, but you simply have to prioritize it and make time. Even if you are the dealer and are not able to attend due to prior commitments, you can benefit from the convention by sending your key managers. There are 36 workshops covering virtually every aspect of dealership operation. There is no better place or a better price to afford your personnel the ability to hear some of the brightest minds in the industry.

There are those that say they can’t afford to attend. In business, you are either going forward or going backwards. If you slow down to look over your shoulder, your competition is apt to be passing by you on the other side. How can you not afford to attend? Yes, certainly, in tough periods of business, you must have a prudent fiscal policy, but attending this convention is certainly prudent. Remember, a definition of insanity is to continually repeat the same action and expect a different result. If you want to be stimulated by new ideas to grow your operation, this is the place to find them.

Some individuals say all that goes on are parties. Certainly, there are parties, often lavish parties, given by manufacturers (to bad they can’t find a way to give the money that they spend back to the dealers) or allied industry. I personally don’t know anyone that just goes to NADA to party, but the events are certainly an excellent venue to network with other members of this great industry.

Dealers are used to excuses. Why the appointment didn’t get set. Why the sale didn’t take place. Why the vehicle didn’t get fixed the first time…or the second time. Why the ups didn’t get logged – on and on and on. Don’t fall into the same trap. If you can’t go to the NADA convention and come back with at least one idea, product or service that will pay for your investment 10 times over, you just weren’t paying attention.

This is a tough industry, and for many in 2008, it is going to get tougher. If you are one of the 60 percent of the franchised dealers or one of the 95 percent of the independent dealers that don’t have the NADA convention on their calendars yet, it isn’t too late. I challenge you to find a way to attend and come expecting to find something that will make a significant difference in your bottom line. What have you got to lose, except maybe more of your business to the competition? Besides, hopefully you will see my smiling face running around the convention floor. If you do, please stop me and say hello. I still go to learn and I learn from every person that I meet.

Vol 5, Issue 2

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