EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a column by RV Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Nathan Hart of Walnut Ridge RV, New Castle, Ind., that was originally published in the August issue of RV Executive Today. It is reprinted here with permission.
I recently attended our summer 20 Group meeting. I always enjoy these meetings and the time spent with other dealers throughout the county and Canada. This time away from the day-to-day operations allows me to focus on our opportunities and discuss ideas with other dealers. This year has brought several challenges for our industry, and everyone seems to wonder how things will go for the rest of this year and into 2024.
The main takeaway for me was that dealers need to continue to focus on training their staff throughout their stores. The dealerships that have embraced a culture of education and continual improvement are having excellent years compared to historical averages.
One of the topics that stuck with me was whether you are a leader or a manager and that our dealerships need leaders more than ever in the current environment. Here is how John Spader defines each.
Leader – Are we working on the right things?
Manager – Are we doing things right? (inventory, efficiencies, operations)
We need to do things right and be managers, but being a leader requires looking past what is in front of us. Are we bringing high energy levels each day? Do we have passion for what we are doing? Are we working on the right things? The leader sets the tone and pace for the entire dealership. It is easy to have high energy when business is record-breaking, but it can be physically and mentally draining when business becomes challenging.
This discussion made me look at myself, realizing I can do better as a leader. That’s the purpose of a 20-group meeting or an industry event; come away with a few items to enhance your organization. The discussions with dealers after the meeting and at dinner are my favorite and most rewarding parts of the meetings. This is when authentic conversations take place, and ideas are exchanged freely. Networking and relationship building is an essential part of running a successful organization.
The RVDA Convention/Expo is another opportunity to network and meet with other dealers, vendors, suppliers, trainers, and manufacturers. In addition to the Expo, the Convention Committee has increased networking opportunities over the past few years. Here are some highlights – the 40 under 40 Recognition Event sponsored by RV Pro, the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards Reception, expanded Partners in Progress meetings, added breakfast before the Annual Meeting, and several informal receptions throughout the week. This allows dealers of all sizes to meet one-on-one with influential leaders and other dealers from the RV Industry.
This is the only event of the year that will enable dealers to meet with bank leaders, have a drink with an F&I expert, communicate with manufacturers, and make dinner plans with other dealers or vendors – all on the same day. In addition to all the education tracks available throughout the week.
In conclusion, the RVDA Convention/Expo is an unmissable opportunity for all industry stakeholders to elevate their leadership potential and make meaningful strides toward a more prosperous future. Embracing the lessons learned and relationships nurtured at this event will undoubtedly propel us toward success.