Many of you may be thinking, A live event during a global pandemic? Read how AED made it possible to host a safe in-person event during COVID-19.
2020 has been anything but ordinary for businesses and companies across the world. People are no longer making long commutes to work, hanging out with friends and colleagues has been replaced with video calls, and individuals have been confined to their homes for months. Many are longing for the past sense of normalcy and are looking forward to having those necessary face-to-face conversations and making work travel plans. With 2021 on the horizon, AED is here to put your mind at ease, providing the necessary services to accommodate many of our members’ requests regarding the hosting of live and virtual events.
Last month, AED hosted the annual Financial/HR Symposium at The Mirage in Las Vegas. The Symposium is geared toward a wide variety of finance and human resources professionals, including finance managers, directors of finance, CFOs, vice presidents of finance, HR managers, HR specialists, training managers, controllers, account leaders and e-commerce managers. It is a unique event that brings together professionals in the equipment distribution industry to learn about broad topics like the economy and company culture, specifically for our dealer members.
This was the first in-person event since Summit in January. As always, safety is and will continue to be AED’s number one priority for our members and staff. Socially distant learning and fun were had by all that attended. COVID protocols and health screenings were put into place and strictly followed. For any live events that take place during this COVID era, the following regulations will be implemented for in-person attendees:
- Masks are always required, including inside the meeting rooms. Speakers are not required to wear masks while speaking. Masks are required in public spaces, including outdoors and when walking around the hotel outside.
- Attendees will be required to complete daily health screenings on the app; staff will verify that they completed the survey and will take their temperature at the health station at registration.
- The session rooms will be set up to allow for a 6-foot distance between attendees.
- Hand-sanitizing stations will be placed in high-traffic areas and in meeting spaces.
- Each session room will have a designated entrance and exit.
- AED will have masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and gloves available throughout the meeting.
For those who were leery about traveling to the symposium, the association provided a virtual attendance option. Virtual attendees received the same great content, presentations, and speakers, from the comfort of their own home. A unique link was provided to the registered attendee that allowed access to the live, in-person sessions, which enabled participation from both crowds. All the members who attended walked away with an abundance of information to use in their dealerships – but let’s take a look at what those who didn’t attend missed out on.
FIRST-DAY EDUCATION SESSION RECAP
Keynote Presentation: Leadership Lessons from Hollywood, with Andy Masters
The first day of AED’s Financial/HR Symposium in Las Vegas kicked off with a keynote presentation from Andy Masters. Masters provided statistics about what younger generations desire in employment and its significance as new generations move up in the workplace. His presentation focused on teaching and helping new employees to grow and how this is beneficial for the employee and the organization as a whole. He noted the pitfalls of having employees stay at an organization without the guidance they need to succeed, and he stressed that developing new employees is essential for a business to flourish.
Financial Session 1: Innovation and Balance Sheet Management, the CFO Tug of War, with Dick Stewart
Dick Stewart’s first financial session of the day focused on innovation and balance sheet management, with the key focus being a CFO’s struggle with balancing innovation with financial stability. He detailed how to think about innovation and assess candidates for innovation. On the financial side, Stewart referenced the importance of balancing capacity with capability in an organization to promote growth. He explained the Altman Z-score and how to assess enterprise health, provided examples of dealer trends, and applied the equation to the average AED member. With the strategies that Stewart provided, he aimed to help CFOs tackle the challenge of managing both new and innovative practices while maintaining financial stability in the company.
HR Session 1: Humor in the Workplace: Not Just How, But Why! with Andy Masters
Andy Masters’ second session of the day focused on why humor is an essential part of a work environment. He shared examples from research studies done by universities that showed that humor aligns with creativity and intelligence. Employee satisfaction is also an important factor in developing a positive and productive work environment. This session provided evidence that happy employees lead to more satisfied customers. Masters acknowledged the challenges of implementing humor while maintaining a professional and respectful work environment and provided attendees with techniques for incorporating humor into the organization in an HR-friendly way.
Financial Session 2: Benchmarking Rental for Performance Management, with Dick Stewart
In Stewart’s second financial session of the day, the topic was benchmarking rentals for performance support. Stewart began by explaining benchmarking in depth, providing insight on both the benefits and drawbacks of this practice. He offered graphs that demonstrated the revenue trends in the industry. He also covered the different rental business practices, success factors and new emerging management roles in the rental industry. He then transitioned into financial operations comparisons between rent-to-rent and rent-to-sell dealerships. He wrapped up the session with recommendations for dealers, including a cyclical graph to help utilize benchmarking effectively, and offered advice on where to turn for more information. Stewart recommended AED’s Rental Report bundle, which can be purchased at bit.ly/2020rentalbundle
HR Session 2: Identifying & Developing High Potentials, with Jill Berg
Jill Berg’s first session at the Symposium discussed how to identify potential in candidates and employees. She focused on the responsibilities and qualities that help managers succeed in the workplace, describing self-awareness as a sought-after quality. She further detailed the importance of building a quality team and how a manager’s job is not only to lead but also to help develop the skills of their employees. Berg continued by discussing both effective and ineffective methods of identifying potential in employees and candidates. This session stressed that success at all levels in an organization is key for overall growth.
To view the manager’s guide to high potential, please visit bit.ly/FHRSsuccession
Shared Session: COVID, Employment Law, and Its Effect on Your Bottom Line, with Michael Airdo
Michael Airdo’s session covered policies and procedures surrounding COVID-19 and how it affects the workplace. He provided input on how to handle the pandemic effectively and legally in a business. He warned of a slow recovery of the unemployment rate due to the ongoing pandemic. He mentioned the importance of preparing for the unknown in legal contracts to protect businesses, advising attendees to review wording in contracts as the pandemic situation continues. He further suggested that companies review their current insurance policies and noted that they might not cover COVID-19 losses, for which he recommended new or additional coverage. Airdo discussed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act in regard to COVID-19. He completed the session by advising attendees to stay current with the CDC, OSHA and professional associations like AED and to utilize the Legal Call Counsel program if needed, as it is a membership benefit.
Financial Session 3: All-You-Can-Eat Tax Buffet with Daniel Fisher and Marc Johnson
This session was a discussion with Marc Johnson, CPA, CGMA, and principal at K•COE Isom, and AED’s Vice President of Government Affairs Daniel Fisher. Johnson began by providing the audience with updates on the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). He suggested that members get their applications completed for PPP forgiveness and then wait, as Congress has not passed tax-deductibility clarifications. Johnson provided updates on both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and expiring tax provisions. Fisher then discussed the elections, suggesting that if Democrats took the lead, there would likely be COVID-19 relief package extensions, if not during the lame duck session, then with the next Congress. Fisher noted that regardless of the election outcome, we will probably see investment in infrastructure.
HR Session 3: Hippies to Hipsters: Communicating Across Generations, with Jesyca Hope
Jesyca Hope’s first HR session was dedicated to finding common ground and understanding among the different generations in the workforce today. She provided attendees with a background on each generation, going into depth on their strengths, weaknesses and core values. Hope acknowledged that while generations have their differences, it is vital to prevent communication problems from emerging. She gave an illustration of a seventh-grade student’s report card results, with grades varying from As to Cs. She asked the audience if they were more excited by the As on the report card or more concerned about the Cs. The lesson was that we all tend to concern ourselves more with areas of weakness. She related this to the generational discussion, noting that it is important to acknowledge differences but just as important not to focus on them. Hope’s key suggestions regarding this topic included avoiding judgment, focusing on quality and not quantity, and encouraging ideas from all.
Financial Session 4: Keys to Effective Communication, with Jill Berg
Jill Berg began her second session of the day by analyzing the two crucial communication elements: listening and asking questions. She explained that by using proper listening skills, we can follow up with questions that allow us to better understand the person we are communicating with. She noted the importance of seemingly smaller aspects of communication that significantly impact how the listener processes information, including body language and tone of voice. She focused on the impact of the “3 V’s” of communication: verbal, vocal and visual, emphasizing that nonverbal communication plays a much bigger part than many people realize. Berg also discussed effective communication methods when nonverbal communication is not possible, such as email and phone. The session finished with tactics to help attendees de-escalate negative communication to build better relationships and a pleasant overall workplace environment.
To view the listening skills assessment, please visit bit.ly/FHRSskills
HR Session 4: Roundtable Discussion with Jesyca Hope
The final HR session on Tuesday was a roundtable discussion on various topics related to the industry, including COVID-19; diversity and inclusion; HR and technology; recruiting, engagement and retention; and compensation and benefits. Hope helped to spark discussion with questions on each topic to get the conversation going. AED’s roundtable discussions offer a meaningful way to connect with peers regarding current events and challenges that dealerships may be facing. Collaboration at these roundtable discussions is an excellent way for members to network with others and gain new insight.
SECOND DAY EDUCATION SESSION RECAP
Shared Session: To Know and Be Known, with Craig Haigh
The first session of the second day was a hybrid session for both HR and Finance. Haigh discussed the importance of relationships that are built with employees and customers. He stressed that while a quality product is essential to customers, beyond that, what people care about is a relationship with those they are doing business with. He mentioned two factors as key to an organization’s success: quality customer relations and quality people on your team to form and maintain those relationships. Haigh provided advice on hiring the right people and learning a lot about a candidate during the interview process by asking the right questions rather than focusing on qualifications. He provided helpful ways to form effective relationships with current employees and stressed that hiring the right people and educating them properly to ensure that performance meets expectations is essential to a successful business.
HR Session 1: 5 Surprising Benefits of Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement, with Shaunna Jones
During this HR session, Shaunna Jones walked the audience through the concept of Lean Six Sigma and organizational techniques that align with this method. She emphasized the importance of continuous improvement as a part of Six Sigma and took the audience through an exercise that helped them determine their organizational strengths and weaknesses. She helped the audience identify these factors by asking questions on six topics, including organizational goals; talent scan, integration and recruitment; HR administration; talent development; performance management; and strategic retention. Jones then discussed strategies to help attendees strengthen these categories, providing the unexpected benefits of implementing Six Sigma methods. Benefits of using these methods include better teamwork, easier employee onboarding, leadership development, increased accountability, and reduced turnover.
Financial Session 1: Looking Ahead: 2021 Economic Outlook, with Charles Dougherty
This financial session with Charles Dougherty focused on the economic impact of COVID-19 and how the economy is handling the recovery. Dougherty provided graphs to help explain the pandemic’s impact, split up into categories like small businesses, the unemployment rate and job loss by industry. He noted the quick recovery in the housing market since mortgage rates have significantly decreased. As the pandemic has changed the ability of many individuals to live in expensive cities like Los Angeles and New York, rent is falling due to people moving out of these high-density areas. Dougherty noted that while residential construction, specifically of single-family homes, is increasing, commercial construction has weakened. The session concluded with analysis of a chart showing the economic forecast for the United States.
Financial Session 2: Equipment Financing: A Guide for the Dealership Accounting Team, with Marc Johnson
The final financial education session was with Marc Johnson, CPA, CGMA, and Ryan Dreher, CPA. This session focused on financing strategies, a leasing overview, negotiables and pitfalls. The two discussed different types of financing, as well as the difference between shareholder loans and PPP loans. Johnson and Dreher gave the audience in-depth information on when to lease, types of leases available, and critical items to understand before leasing. They then discussed pitfalls by providing examples of situations that should be avoided in borrowing and financing. The session concluded with Johnson and Dreher answering questions that dealers have been asking them this year.
HR Session 2: How to Establish and Design an Employee Wellness Program, with Dr. Rikki White
AED’s final HR session offered advice from Dr. Rikki White on how to set up and implement a wellness program. White began by defining wellness and a healthy lifestyle and then discussed how most Americans are not practicing wellness or leading a healthy lifestyle. She discussed how this affects the workplace, citing issues like low energy and costly medical expenses. White explained the benefits of a wellness program, such as a return on investment for companies and a reduction in health care costs. She provided tips on how to implement a wellness program into the workplace and ideas for motivating employees to get involved, such as through structured wellness activities and employee rewards.