Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Written By: Robin Cunningham
For the last sixteen months I have had the incredible experience of being a lead instructor with the NCM Institute. I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dealership managers in our multi-level classes for general managers, general sales managers, used vehicle managers, service managers, financial managers, and some private dealership training, as well. One thing I know for sure is this level of classroom-based education has not been around that long at the departmental manager level; and in my opinion, a structured professional development discipline--including formal training--is the single biggest way to help facilitate the long-overdue transformation of the retail automobile industry.
Years ago when I was a young general manager and dealer beginning to learn all I could about operating a dealership at the highest level, I was afforded many educational opportunities available at that time. I got to join our NCM 20 Group, I attended the NADA Dealer Candidate Academy (similar to NCMi's General Management Executive Program); I worked with many of the top consultants at the time (we were adding franchises and locations); I took advantage of a two-week immersion in the Leadership Project; I received business coaching training; and many others. That was great for me, but the educational opportunities for the rest of our associates were very limited.
Certainly there were training opportunities for many of our associates inside and outside the dealership, but they weren’t necessarily designed so each associate could clearly see how what they were focused on would fit into the needs of the entire organization.
Today there are more educational resources than ever before. Last summer, NCM was asked to do a presentation at the first-ever AutoCON conference in Las Vegas. I was pleased to do the presentation, but before and after that I spent my time listening to the keynote addresses, lunch presentations and the presentations of literally the "who’s who" of our great industry. What a thrill to be in a place where so much wisdom about what’s working right now in dealerships was there for the listening, if one wanted to invest the time. I certainly did.
I found myself in the following weeks sharing in the classroom some of the great knowledge and inspiration I heard in those sessions. That is what's so special about the in-class experience at our NCM Institute. I and the other NCMi instructors are all personally very experienced in this business and we share our knowledge and experience, as you would expect. But our instructors also come from our well-known 20 Groups division and our Retail Operations Consulting division. That means the participants in our classrooms also get the benefit of learning how thousands of automotive dealerships today are becoming the most productive and profitable they can be, too.
So when I asked at the beginning of this blog if your managers really understand what it takes to maximize the ROI opportunities available to them at your dealership, the degree to which you may be able to answer "yes," "no" or "not as much as they need to" is directly correlated to how you are helping them increase their knowledge through education.
I used to hear this rather crude cliché, ”If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." (Meaning lack of knowledge, of course.) Here at NCM, we believe it is necessary for our clients to receive a substantial return on investment when doing business with us; otherwise, they shouldn't do it.
I feel very blessed to be in a position where I see the lights come on in the eyes of dozens of dealership managers each week when we systematically show them what it takes to maximize the ROI in the departments they lead and manage. As an instructor, it's rewarding for me personally. As a dealer and manager, you'll find it rewarding on a number of levels--not the least of which is your profitability!
Robin Cunningham is an instructor for the NCM Institute Center for Automotive Retail Excellence, as well as a former dealership owner-operator.