Future Leaders Also Become Lifelong FriendsBy Larry Glynn
Article Date: 09-01-2012
Copyright(C) 2012 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
The industry and business know-how gained at AED’s Leadership Academy is topped only by the rewarding relationships.
AED is a unique organization for equipment distributors and their manufacturers. In order for the manufacturers to be successful, their dealers have to be good at what they do and penetrate their marketplace with share.
Think about all the intricacies of our dealerships. We have sales, rental, parts, service, warranty, customer training, safety, environmental issues, contracts with customers, and contracts with manufacturers. Managing all this with a few people is challenging, to say the least.
AED does a great job offering training in most of these areas, and there is so much to learn. It takes years to understand all that is involved. I have been with my company for 35 years and still face new issues every few months.
My No. 1 resource for advice on a new issue is other dealers who I know have had the same problem in the past. My AED friends can help me get to a resolution or at least point me in the right direction. It is either that or very expensive lawyers, accountants or making an inexperienced mistake. Staying in regular contact with other dealers by telephone or e-mail keeps the relationships alive until the next AED function.
I met most of my closest AED friends over a period of years at what used to be called The Young Executives Conference – today it’s known as The Leadership Academy. The purpose of this annual gathering is to further enhance the education of the future leaders of our industry. Whether we like it or not, our distributor businesses are very complicated and involve more risk than we care to think about.
At these meetings you have the chance to get to know people in jobs just like yours from other dealerships around the U.S. and Canada. The meetings are more intimate than the big annual Summit, for example, and you can really talk about all kinds of issues. Every year, AED brings in professionals to teach us about important aspects of our businesses. The learning continues with the conversations over meals, cocktail hours and the later hours in the bar, if you are so inclined (as I am). After every conference, you leave with new friends that experience the same things you face every day.
Whenever a new manufacturer comes to see us about taking their line, the first question I ask, after they have made their presentation and there is some interest, is: Who else has been representing them around the
U.S. or Canada. I look for someone I know because of AED and I call them. I know I can get honest answers about product quality, product support, warranty and what the manufacturer is like to do business with. Avoiding poorly run manufacturers can solve many of our day-to-day problems. Conversely, that simple telephone conversation may end up being an endorsement for the manufacturer and his products, which will help our bottom line.
Personal relationships with other people throughout the industry are invaluable. The Leadership Academy is one of the best ways to learn about our industry and build these relationships. I wholeheartedly encourage your participation in these conferences – you and/or your successor(s) will have that opportunity on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 8-9 in Chicago. The meeting will be taught more like a workshop this year by Texas A&M distribution professor Barry Lawrence, who gave an outstanding talk at Executive Forum last year. Anyone who attends will be richly rewarded. (Details on page 8, or visit aednet.org)
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