Associated Equipment Distributors recently concluded its first-ever Leadership Development Institute (LDI). Designed for high-level managers preparing for broader roles in their organizations, the one-year program featured three 3-day interactive workshops, monthly webinars between live sessions, ongoing professional development coaching, and the completion of a capstone project, which required participants to review their respective dealerships and identify areas for improvement.
Developed by a team of successful industry experts and executive development professionals, the LDI curriculum spanned a wide range of topics and taught both technical “hard” skills and leadership “soft” skills. The program cost $4,995 for members – with participants paying their own travel expenses – and AED was eager to prove its value.
“The program encompassed all areas of the dealership, and participants received a lot of content,” said Rex Collins, an HBK CPAs & Consultants principal who helped build the LDI curriculum from the ground up and served as an instructor for the program. “We really wanted to prove to dealers that this was a worthwhile program, so our goal was for all participants to achieve a 20:1 return on investment (ROI) and add about $100,000 to their bottom line.”
The result was even better than they could have hoped, with participating dealerships saving an average of $500,000.
Also, the final capstone project was more than just a chance for participants to show what they'd learned while completing the LDI program – it was an opportunity for them to use the skills they'd gained to actually save their dealerships money. Participants presented projects tackling issues in the parts, rentals, sales and service departments of their dealerships, as well as problems with hiring and expense control. The results were phenomenal.
“Our highest-performing participant had a more than $1.8 million net to the bottom line, after all the expenses related to the project,” Collins said. “The investment was $5,000 and they netted $1.8 million out of it. When the participant presented the project to upper management, they estimated that it would net about $800,000 – which is great, fantastic even, and far exceeded what we were hoping for – but after they went back and implemented it, they said, 'We undersold this; it's going to be a $1.819 million net to the bottom line.'”
Each of the LDI participants saw a significant ROI, according to Collins. “Even our lowest-performing participant did really well, achieving an ROI of more than $90,000,” he said. “This inaugural Leadership Development Institute program had around 25 participants, and we were just shy of meeting our goal of 20:1 ROI for everyone – and just by one participant who missed the goal by a few thousand dollars. That's wonderfully successful, especially for a new program. Overall, we averaged a 96:1 ROI for the group.”
Having completed the LDI program, the first batch of participants are putting what they learned into practice, improving processes at their dealerships and working to combat persistent industry problems, such as a lack of available technicians and a rapidly aging workforce.
“I've had some follow-up meetings with some of the attendees and they've commented about how they're not only using the “hard” skills they learned, but the “soft” skills – how to manage people, how to communicate upstream and downstream to effect further change, etc. – as they're looking to change processes at their dealerships. Most importantly, the participants aren't done learning. They're continuing to leverage the knowledge they got by completing this program.”
AED's next Leadership Development Institute is scheduled to begin in October 2018. Registration cost is $4,995 for members and $5,995 for nonmembers.
For more information on the AED Leadership Development Institute, or to register to participate, visit http://aednet.org/leadership-development-institute. To learn more about AED membership or programs, visit aednet.org or connect with the Association on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.