Executive Forum Hits Home for DealersCED Magazine, October 2009
Article Date: 10-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Speakers and relevant agenda put plenty of tools in attendees’ hands.
Forum threw attendees a few curve balls on Sept 10-11, but their feedback told AED the changes were a homerun. The mix included a brand new moderator, a dynamic and fresh lineup of speakers, the most serious subjects distributors are confronting today, plus a roundtable wrap-up session that put attendees dialoging face-to with presenters. PS: Expect a similar makeover when you attend Annual Meeting in San Antonio Jan. 21-23 – it’s a whole new ball game! (www.aednet.org/am)
Priority No. 1: Takeaways.
Machinery analyst David Raso broke down the market data, noting the equipment industry will see signs of recovery over the coming year, but with visible improvement not appearing till 2011. Business advisor and strategist Dana Telford walked dealers through critical planning steps and boiled it down to: (1.) “You have to know what makes you unique and valuable." (2.) "You have to have the right team to answer that question." Telford says the ideal is six to eight in your inner circle. And (3.) "You must communicate that answer consistently over months and years."
AGC’s CEO Steve Sandherr discussed the serious challenges facing the construction industry but said the tough political environment, including Washington’s overreach, "is our friend."
One of D.C.'s most influential lobbyists, Jade West, from the NAW, painted a bleak picture of numerous legislative threats to equipment business owners and urged attendees to stay engaged and pay attention. "Washington is in a learning mode, so more communication is important. Public opinion counts," she said.
No one could have predicted how hilarious basic business truth could be till Don McNeeley stepped on stage. A steel business executive and adjunct professor at Northwestern University, McNeeley emphasized that distributors must excel at staging experiences for their customers, and never cease questioning and reinventing their relevance. And don't forget your role as the chief: "Are you putting out fires or looking ahead three to five years?"
McNeeley also humorously jabbed society for neutralizing competition in America. "We have stopped keeping score in competitive sports!" he said, citing a growing tendency toward wanting all children to feel like winners – even juggling lessons use scarves instead of balls so no one suffers a negative consequence. "But everyone is not equal," he asserted. "Foster competition!"
Forum's audience roared with laughter and applause – and written reviews exclaimed: "Excellent. Best. Superb. Fantastic. Tremendous."
On Thursday, a Forum attendee sharply contended that his customers care only about price. But come Friday, a panel of contractor fleet and procurement executives begged to differ. All four panelists steadfastly maintained that partnership and open communication far exceed price on their priority totem poles.
Another Forum dealer attendee asked: How should a dealer regroup and recover after we've blown it?
Acknowledge the failure and we move on, said one panelist.
"Be transparent and there won't be a need to regroup," said another.
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