David Gesualdo

David Gesualdo

Few events brighten my calendar more than the annual arrival of the Dealers’ Choice Awards, a program run by the editors and publishers of this magazine since 2005. Each stage in the planning and execution of the awards brings a unique sense of optimism and goodwill — especially when it comes time to notify the winning companies.

Each year, following the announcement of the winners, we receive several queries from industry executives and public relations professionals asking how their companies can be entered into or considered for the Dealers’ Choice Awards. The beauty of our program is that there is no formal nomination or entry process. Only dealers and dealership personnel are eligible to complete the survey, and each must manually enter the names of their partners, providers or finance companies in all 29 categories.

As you can imagine, the write-in format makes tabulation a laborious task. We received thousands of entries, all of which included votes for at least five categories. But recognizing the best partners our industry has to offer makes it time well spent.

The beauty of our program is that there is no formal nomination or entry process.

This year’s awards included two new categories: Compliance Training and F&I Technology.

I need not remind you of the importance of regulatory compliance in protecting your customers’ personally identifiable information and the reputation of your operation — not to mention the pivotal role compliance plays in F&I production. With all that in mind, I would like to congratulate the executives, management and staff at Compli, American Financial and Automotive Services (AFAS), and United Development Systems (UDS), which won the Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards, respectively, in Compliance Training’s inaugural year.

Our second new category, F&I Technology, refers to the software that powers your finance office, including but not limited to menus, reporting and econtracting. The inaugural Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards were won by MenuVantage, MaximTrak and F&I Express, respectively. The directors of each company should be congratulated for separating themselves from a wide field of worthy competitors in this important segment.

It bears mentioning that the Social Media Management category bore three awards — to Naked Lime, Ally and Driving Sales — after failing to yield any winners in 2013 and 2014. This is not to say that no social media provider earned any votes in those years. But to win an award, a provider must also score above the total group average rating in the four ratings each voter must complete for each category: the product or service itself, customer service and support, value for dollars spent and whether they would recommend the company to another dealer.

So congratulations to the companies listed above, and indeed to all our Dealers’ Choice Award winners, past and present, for earning the loyalty and praise of their dealer clients. It is a singular honor, not easily won.