This coming November, AED’s small dealer members will be meeting up in New Orleans for the second annual 2018 Small Dealer Conference.

Attendees will gather at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans on Wednesday, November 7, for a welcome dinner, followed by an all-day success-building event on the eighth. This quick, in-and-out conference will provide valuable networking opportunities for those familiar with the daily challenges of operating a small dealership. Over 55 participants from 38 small dealerships attended last year’s inaugural Small Dealer Conference. 

Dealers of all sizes are increasingly challenged by OEM and customer expectations. But smaller-sized dealerships that carry lighter equipment have different objectives with regard to training, operations and advocacy. The Small Dealer Conference was created in 2017 to put these unique objectives front and center.

Building on the success of the 2017 conference, AED has added educational sessions on leadership, product support, rental, marketing, and talent development. This year’s conference will also feature a session that will give attendees a 10,000-foot overview of the industry to learn more about where things are headed.

According to Liz McCabe, senior director of education and programming at AED, “The agenda was put together with the input of the Small Dealer Committee, so this really is an event tailored to the specific needs of small dealers.” 

Here is an inside look at this year’s conference agenda:

Reducing Your Customers’ Cost of Equipment Ownership by Managing Their Data for Them

Reducing the cost of equipment ownership has traditionally focused on lowering equipment acquisition cost, or on lowering life cycle cost via a reduction in parts and service cost. Dollar for dollar, the customer’s gain in reduced cost is equal to the dealer’s loss in reduced margin, resulting in a zero-sum game for the dealer. However, technological advances of the last fifty years have expanded dealer-friendly options for lowering the cost of equipment.

Dealers and manufacturers can now proactively reduce the cost of equipment ownership and increase equipment uptime while reducing the cost of support, thus preserving their own margins. Such effects can be achieved by managing customer data.

At this educational session, attendees will learn how developing technologies, including enterprise systems integrations, remote data communication (telematics/internet of things), and the electronic distribution of intelligent, “asset-seeking” service and maintenance information, has allowed dealers to directly enhance the efficiency of their customers’ operations.

This presentation will be given by Alexander Schuessler, founder of SmartEquip, an internet-based solutions company for manufacturers and rental fleet owners. In 2005, Schuessler, alongside the CEOs of Hertz, United Rentals, NationsRent, The Home Depot, and Volvo, was named by Rental Equipment Register (RER) as one of the “Top 10 People Who Are Impacting the Rental Industry.” Prior to founding SmartEquip, Mr. Schuessler was co-founder and senior partner of Script International (formerly Caterpillar Rental Services Network Inc.), a company that coordinated the start-up of over 80 separate equipment rental operations for Caterpillar in 45 countries across the world.

Being Scrappy in Marketing Without Spending a Dime

Marketing guru Amanda Ayala will be giving a presentation on small dealer marketing on a shoestring budget. For small dealers, persistence and tenacity are required to maximize exposure, cultivate a sterling reputation, develop a leading voice, and become sales powerhouses. What is not required is a lofty marketing budget.

Taking a scrappy approach to marketing does not have to result in suffering strategies. Ayala will give tips and tricks for developing provoking content, building a social media presence, creating a customer referral program, nurturing local partnerships, and crafting dynamic email marketing to make sure attendees can bring their dealerships the exposure necessary to be successful.

The Devil’s in the Details: A Panel on How the New Tax Law is Affecting Small Dealers and Their Customers

There has been a lot of buzz among AED’s small dealers about the new tax law. Congress recently completed the first major rewrite of the tax code in more than 30 years.Despite being nearly a year into the new law, there are still implementation questions as the Department of Treasury and the IRS have been slow to release guidance and other rules pertaining to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

As with any major piece of legislation, there has been some good and some bad. At this panel discussion, attendees will learn about how the new tax law has affected small dealers and their customers and what to expect going forward.

“There are many differences in how small and large equipment dealers are impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” said Daniel Fisher, AED’s vice president of government affairs and the panel’s moderator. “Participants will have the unique opportunity to ask questions of a leading equipment industry CPA and gain valuable insight into how the IRS and the tax accounting community are interpreting key provisions of the legislation.” Attendees should bring their questions and be prepared to learn how to ensure small dealers get the most benefit out of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Best Rental Practices for the Small Dealer

In an evolving marketplace, the rental department is vital for near-term profitability and the longevity of a dealership. Learn best practices for growing your rental business and giving it a competitive advantage at this educational presentation given by Owen Edwards. For over 15 years, Edwards has worked with Doosan Bobcat in dealer development. His primary responsibilities relate to advising the Bobcat and Doosan dealer network on sustaining dealership profitability. In his role with Bobcat, Edwards routinely conducts financial and cash flow analysis, forecasting and budget preparation, performance metric development and comparison, best practice sharing, and dealer succession planning strategies.

Talent Development for 21st Century Leaders
In this interactive session, attendees will learn how to create a high-performance culture using progressive talent systems that will attract the next generation of workers. Attendees can expect to have their current mindsets about leadership development and traditional performance management tested. Marc Johnson will facilitate the session and help participants walk away with new strategies to increase employee loyalty and engagement.

Dealer Competitive Strategy: State of the Art
Dealers are increasingly challenged by OEM and customer expectations, which can be tricky market drivers to serve and anticipate. What’s more, strategic options to these two market drivers have narrowed. Through a partnership between AED and the University of Denver, research was recently completed that examined those dynamics. The research identifies specific components of the market drivers causing dealers to adapt their strategies and business models, the prevalence of adaptations being made, and the financial performance of those adaptations. This research, combined with AED’s annual Cost of Doing Business Report, provides significant insights crucial to small dealerships’ 2019 planning.

Speaking of the 2018 Small Dealer Conference, Daniel Fisher said, “This one-day educational event allows attendees to work on their business rather than in their business. AED’s Small Dealer Conference provides a platform for professionals to come together to leverage their membership and address the challenges they are currently facing in their businesses.” Make this conference in “Nawlins” your destination for success!

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