David Gesualdo

David Gesualdo

If you have ever wondered what bearing the Dealers’ Choice Awards have on our industry — other than recognizing the fine work of your trusted vendors, suppliers and finance partners — look no further than the Compliance Training category.

When we added Compliance Training two years ago, the response paled in comparison to many of our more established and popular categories. This year, it drew as many votes as any of them. As Jim Ganther, president of Mosaic Compliance Services, puts it, “Mosaic is pleased to be recognized as the Gold-level winner in the category of Compliance Training, not just for the honor itself, but as evidence that dealers are taking the issue of compliance more seriously than ever.”

Jim, along with many of the industry’s other leading attorneys, dealer advocates and trainers, has been a fixture at Compliance Summit, a series of regional events that attracted a handful of dealers to Miami in November 2014 and has grown in size and scope in subsequent visits to Chicago, Austin and Tampa. (The next Compliance Summit will be held August 29–30, 2016, as part of Industry Summit in Las Vegas.) And in addition to dealers, managers and front-end staff, the events have also been attended by scores of agents and product provider executives.

Everyone wants in on the compliance game because everyone has something to lose when a dealer or finance company falls prey to an enterprising regulator. Agents, in particular, I have learned, are educating themselves in order to help their dealer clients design better processes and prepare them for lender audits.

What will be the next category that spawns a movement, a growing interest, perhaps even an event? Dealers’ Choice Awards voters also have started recognizing more providers in categories such as Mobile Media, Reputation Management and Social Media Management; at one point between 2013 and 2015, each of those categories came up empty, with no provider scoring high enough to earn an award. The steadily improving quality and quantity of votes for those companies have turned all three into very competitive categories.

As an aside, shortly after the winners were announced, many were contacted via email to place orders for their official Dealers’ Choice Awards plaques. Clicking the embedded link led to a page displaying the company and category names and a multitude of attractive options — a selection of faux wood finishes, acrylic wall- and desktop-mounted trophies, even a digital version. Prices started at $159.

Here’s the problem: The magazine produces its own DCA plaques at no cost to the winners. The email was a scam.

We received several queries on the matter and ultimately had to send an email to let all our winners know they will get their free plaques during the awards ceremony at Industry Summit. Some insults were hurled in the general direction of the scammers, but not by me. I took it as a compliment. As far as I’m concerned, we have officially hit the big time.

So thank you for voting. I know your partners appreciate it, and we appreciate it too. We are very proud of the Dealers’ Choice Awards program and we hope it continues to grow — and to help us take the industry’s temperature — for many years to come.