Managing a Virtual Dealership Provides a Real Learning Experience - Inside AED
Construction Equipment Distribution magazine is published by the Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada. AED membership also includes equipment manufacturers and industry-service firms. CED magazine has been published continuously since 1920. Associated Equipment Distributors
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Managing a Virtual Dealership Provides a Real Learning Experience

CED Magazine, September 2009

Article Date: 09-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Dealer-specific simulation game is serious business.

Calling Test Drive a game belies its real purpose, for the innovative “war game” simulation is a serious business learning tool for AED members.

There’s a reason why simulation games have been used by Fortune 500 companies and governmental agencies like NASA. Complicated concepts are more easily understood and retention is better when participants are actively engaged in an activity.

The AED Foundation and PriSim Business War Games have partnered to bring this state-of -the-art business simulation to AED members, and the next Test Drive course will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1 near Chicago. During Test Drive, dealer participants manage a virtual dealership and compete against other participant teams.

“Participants from the past Test Drive seminars held in June 2009 came away with a new understanding and appreciation for strategic planning and thinking,” said Alison Wechman, manager of professional education for the AED Foundation.

Here’s what some had to say.

“I had seen SWOT [Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) done before at our company and didn’t understand it,” says Russ Huber , branch manager of Cowin Equipment Co, based in Birmingham, Ala., “but now I have seen it in action and I will use it.” Another strategic planning tool taught at the conference is the MOST framework, which breaks the planning process into mission, objectives, strategies and tactics.

“Our dealership is always looking to find ways to supplement business by taking on new product lines or initiatives,” said Brian Schultz, vice president of product support for Michigan Cat. “The information and techniques that I learned, specifically with the MOST framework, will give me new tools to help evaluate these initiatives with my team.”

Christopher Gaylor, president of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Power Equipment also learned valuable lessons from Test Drive. “I learned how to focus on certain things rather thaneverything at once,” said Gaylor. “I learned how to try to position my dealership strategically rather than to try to be all things to all people.”

But the key conference take-aways don’t begin and end with strategic planning. Participants also learn how to develop a dealership business plan; they learn how to read and interpret financial statements; and formulate a total dealership perspective that they can apply to their decision-making process. Participants are encouraged to think on the business rather than in the business.

“With Test Drive you can see the impact of your decisions immediately, so you can learn in days what might take months or even years in real life,” said Wechman.

Market conditions are causing many dealers to rethink their strategy. If you are thinking about changing your strategy or are re-evaluating your strategic plan, Test Drive can not only help you in the process, but it also might save you from making costly mistakes. Survival sometimes requires stepping away from your business long enough to get a different perspective. So set aside a few days for your management team or your key managers to attend Test Drive. The dealership you manage may be virtual, but the lessons learned will be very real.

BDO Seidman is the official sponsor of Test Drive.
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