The time is almost upon us. The Service Dealer Conference & Awards is taking place next Thursday - and the organising team couldn't be more excited!
Housed at the same place - albeit sporting a fancier name this year - the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry is venue to the event which this time out will be addressing the subject of Turning A Profit. The day is set to offer valuable insight of benefit to businesses large and small and to dealers of all machinery specialisms.
As ever, the intention by the organising team is to put together a programme of presentations and interactive sessions, which offer our dealer delegates relatable, practical and useful information. Information which they can take away with them and put into practice back at their own dealerships.
The event is tackling the issue of profitability this year as there can be nothing more fundamental to running a small business. As Service Dealer owner Duncan Murray-Clarke put it, “Turning A Profit is at the heart of what all independent dealers must be about. Be they large or small companies, domestic, professional turfcare or agricultural specialists, maintaining profits in all areas of the dealership is essential.”
To this end there is a cracking line-up of experts who will be approaching the subject from their own unique perspectives.
I’m personally absolutely fascinated to hear our keynote speaker’s take on the matter. Dr Eliza Filby is described as a ‘generational intelligence specialist’. She’s a writer, speaker and consultant who specialises in helping companies and services understand generational shifts within politics, society and the workplace. You may have seen her cropping up on TV discussions as a pundit, dropping phrases like Millennial, Gen Z, Boomer etc. Next week she’ll be offering her expertise on how dealers might think about connecting with these various societal groups in their own places of work.
Her keynote address in the morning will consider how we might go about communicating with these groups. Later in the day she will be leading one of the popular breakout sessions where, split into smaller groups, the delegates can interact more easily with the discussion. In these seminars (which all delegates will take it in turns attending) Eliza will be specifically concentrating on Recruitment, Retention and Client Engagement.
Recruitment and retention of staff has a been a hot topic in the industry this year (when isn't it?!). It’s an area which we're aware that many of our readers have ongoing difficulties. So to hear Eliza's take on the subject, coming from this very specific angle, will be most interesting.
Tackling the notion of profitability head on, we are privileged this year to have Bob Clements of Missouri-based dealer development company Bob Clements International joining us from the States. Bob is a sought-after speaker who loves to challenge and motivate owners, managers and salespeople to reach new levels of success. I had the honour of seeing Bob speak to huge room, absolutely packed with American dealers at the GIE+EXPO just a couple of weeks ago in Louisville and I have to say I’m so excited that our delegates are able to benefit from his wisdom and fantastic presentation style too.
Bob’s main address to the Conference will be on the subject of Structuring Your Dealership to Maximise Profit. His content will be specific and entirely relatable for our delegates, based upon his years of experience, working side-by-side with independent machinery dealers across America. Bring your notebooks and pens along for this one, because I have a feeling Bob will be dishing out plenty of advice and nuggets of gold that you’ll hopefully be able to apply in your own dealerships.
Bob will also be running a breakout session, this time with the very enticing title of Turning Your Service Department Into A Cash Producing Machine! He will be aided in this session by Sara Hey, also from Bob Clements International, who readers will know from her regular column in Service Dealer magazine and of course, her appearance at the Conference last year.
Also returning from last year is Pete Harding of PFW Consultants. Pete will be joining Sara on stage once again to run another of their sessions which many attendees told me was one of their highlights from last year. Their UK vs USA seminar this year will be generating a dialogue around recruitment issues and best practices in hiring. It’ll be fascinating to hear the different approaches to a common problem faced by dealers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Conference will round off with a panel debate, with our speakers and some invited guests, discussing issues which have cropped up during the day and taking questions from the floor.
And all this is before the excitement of the Dealer Of The Year Awards ceremony in the evening! As mentioned before, the standard of entry this year was incredible and the volume and enthusiasm of the customer feedback received in favour of local dealers, was breathtaking. So, as ever, it has been an incredibly tough job for the judges – but decisions had to be made. All will be revealed next week!
It’ll be great to see as many of our readers there as possible. If you haven't already nabbed your spot there might be some last minute ticket availability. There's details on the Service Dealer website – or you could call the office on 01491 837 117.
Finally the team at Service Dealer would like to thank all our sponsors, without whom the day would not be possible.
The companies supporting the event this year are:
Catalyst Computer Systems
Hitachi Capital Business Finance