Photo courtesy Helion Automotive Technologies

Photo courtesy Helion Automotive Technologies

Do you have a love/hate relationship with meetings? On the one hand, they’re a necessary part of doing business. On the other hand, they’re a time suck, especially if you have to travel to and from your meetings.

If your operation includes two or more stores, your managers may lament the fact that, every week or month, they are required to spend time out of the office to attend a meeting. You may want to consider videoconferencing. In a recent survey of 4,700 end users of videoconferencing, 94% cited the biggest benefit as increased productivity, while 87% cited reduced travel.

A videoconference can replace both in-person meetings and conference calls. The many benefits include:

1. Participants are forced to pay attention. If you’ve ever substituted a conference call for an in-person meeting, you know what I mean. How many people on conference calls are checking emails or browsing Facebook? Without seeing them, you’ll never know.

2. It reduces travel time and costs. It can take hours to commute between stores in different cities or even the same city, depending on traffic. Add on lunch and you’re talking anywhere from a half day to two days, just for one meeting.

3. It increases productivity. In addition to travel costs, there is the hidden cost of lost opportunities. Every day a sales manager is out of the store, there are probably several deals that don’t get done. Videoconferencing allows staff to stay in the store, increasing productivity and revenue.

4. It strengthens rapport. One of the greatest benefits to in-person meetings is getting to know your fellow employees. Networking with colleagues is so valuable that it’s the main reason people travel to meetings. Videoconferencing allows you to look people in the eye. Conversations flow more naturally than on conference calls because we give off visual cues when we are about to speak.

5. It increases the impact of discussions. Similar to an in-person meeting, a videoconference conveys messaging and tone. Body language and facial expressions reflect an accurate gauge of what’s being communicated.

6. Problems get solved. One dealer I know of says his monthly videoconferences with service managers are like “mini-20 Group” discussions. These meetings would not occur otherwise because of the travel and time it would require.

7. It increases accountability. When a person announces a goal in front of a group, there is instant motivation to meet that goal. Who wants to go back to next month’s or next quarter’s meeting and admit they fell short of their goal? Videoconferencing provides the same level of accountability as in-person meetings.

8. It increases efficiency. Meetings are more efficient when they have a defined start and end time. Additionally, managers can schedule a quick, 10-minute video call, while in-person meetings are rarely scheduled for less than 30.

9. It’s easy to use. Today’s videoconferencing systems are reliable and easy to use. Meetings are initiated by pushing a button and choosing contacts; it’s as simple as sending an email.

10. There are no excuses. Many videoconferencing systems allow remote access from desktop computers, laptops and tablets. So even when employees are traveling on business, there’s no excuse for missing a meeting!

In dealerships, videoconferencing is a cost-effective way to hold meetings that require big decisions with many stakeholders. It’s also a great way to conduct individual meetings, offering a one-on-one experience that conference calls can’t duplicate.

Erik Nachbahr is the founder of Helion Automotive Technologies and has expertise in transforming dealer networks into vehicles for mission-critical applications. Email him at [email protected].