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attended the Leadership Conference a couple of weeks ago. Like other opportunities that AED offers its members, this conference allows me to understand what the top issues are that dealers are facing today. Guess what the single biggest challenge was, as expressed by most of the 90-plus professionals there? People. Now, we all know that finding people to help run the business is part of it, but the other part is ensuring they are the most effective leaders they can be in their respective roles once they are hired. This goes beyond having them participate in OEM-specific, product-centric “training.”

When you send them to that training, are they going beyond product specifications and covering things like how, as a parts or service manager, to develop recognition and incentive programs to drive results and behavior? Do those same managers understand how to develop and track the success of parts and service marketing programs? Are they able to provide exceptional customer service by utilizing resources in the customer database? The AED Foundation is providing a platform for these managers to come together and sharpen their skills related to the operation and leading and managing of the people who make it happen.

Consider the rental management team, a department with growing importance in any dealership. Have they taken an in-depth look at the financial risk associated with growing a rental fleet? Understanding the key operational processes and monitoring/measuring methods that yield high performance is crucial for these managers, and they need an open forum to gain that knowledge. If there is a struggle to align resources between rental efforts and strategic growth of the company, AED’s Advanced Rental Seminar might be just what you need.

Branch managers are responsible for people, assets, business relationships and profitability. Again, AED offers a seminar for branch managers that addresses all the skill sets, processes, techniques, and even the time management skills needed to become an effective leader with sound operational knowledge. The goal of this seminar is to help you become better at leading and managing people while driving the mission of creating and keeping more customers and at the same time making money.

If you are a CED reader, then chances are high that you have attended some AED function in the past. What was the most valuable thing about that event, the networking or the education? Sometimes it’s one over the other, and other times they are equally valuable. The networking helps with understanding how other dealers are tackling challenges like yours, and the education provides new perspectives and practices. This is why The AED Foundation seminars are such a valuable component of a successful dealership manager’s professional education. If people are one of your dealership’s biggest challenges, then invest in their professional growth. I promise you they will recognize the important role they play in the dealership’s success and will be thankful for your recognition of it, too.

The AED Foundation rotates the locations and dates of these seminars every year. The remaining seminars this year include the Advanced Rental Manager Development Seminar on October 12–13 in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Branch Manager Development Seminar on November 9–10 in Phoenix, Ariz. To register, log on to and visit the upcoming events page, or contact anyone at The AED Foundation office.

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