Continuing Education For Buy Here Pay Here Dealerships

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Chuck Bonanno - Also by this author

If there is one constant in our universe, it is change. We need to recognize change and search for the opportunities that lie within change. We can choose to fight change, but it is inevitable and actually necessary. We must adapt to changes every day and provide an environment where change is not feared but accepted and embraced in our dealership. I am certain there were horse buggy lots around the turn of the last century whose dealers said “the automobile will never replace the horse and buggy.” They went bankrupt. Other horse buggy dealers saw the changes coming and took action to prepare for the new era and changed from selling buggies to selling automobiles. Still other individuals foresaw the market changes and entered the automobile market for the first time.
What was the difference between the dealers who did not see change coming or refused to act upon change and those who saw it coming, made changes and survived? Resisting change and questioning the reality of the situation played a role in their demise, but what they really lacked was knowledge. They failed to see, understand, plan and act based on events in an ever changing world. They were not stupid, but they were ignorant. They failed to continue their education.

So that begs the question; are you continuing your education? Education comes in many forms and from many places. Don’t believe that you must experience everything to learn everything. You don’t need to burn your fingers on the stove to understand that you shouldn’t touch hot things. Learn from books, tapes, videos, CD’s, DVD’s, trade publications, professional publications, family, friends, mentors, partners, seminars, workshops, conferences, conventions, trade associations, professional associations, accountants, attorneys, consultants and other dealers through a Dealer Twenty Group program.
The written word is always a good place to start. Trade publications such as the one you are now reading, are excellent sources of information and knowledge and also provide products and services to assist you as a dealer. Although there are not a lot of Buy Here-Pay Here books in the marketplace, there are dozens of books that are geared towards the professional, the entrepreneur, the salesman, the leader and the business owner. There are infinitely more books, tapes and videos about personal development. These publications can help you become a better spouse, parent, friend and/or neighbor. Make a habit to read, listen or view self-help and self-development media every chance you get.

People are also a great source of knowledge. Your family, friends, partners, pastors, accountants, attorneys and consultants should be a constant source of information and advice for you. They are your “inner” circle. Don’t be one to follow “blindly” and take all advice “with a grain of salt.” It will serve you well to get advice and opinions from those who know you, your business and/or the industry. Ask yourself if you can truly have too much information.

Industry events and associations are another great source for continuing your education. Events such as our annual Special Finance and Buy Here Conference or the NIADA National Conference can be invaluable sources for education and training. Are you a member of your state and national dealer association? You cannot give a good reason not to be a member. Do not just join associations; get involved. These professional organizations exist to help you, the dealer, conform to local, state and federal statutes, offer educational services, direct you to products and services available to assist dealers, become your voice in state and national legislatures and create standards for all dealers to follow. If not for the lobbying effort of these associations, there would be some potentially harmful legislature enacted. What is that worth?

I serve as a moderator of Buy Here-Pay Here Twenty Groups. I serve over one hundred dealers across the country. I have groups consisting of dealers of all sizes and levels of experience. I moderate a minimum of 18 meetings a year, and I have yet to moderate one where I didn’t learn something new from another participant. I laugh (really cry) when I think back to 1996 when, my now partner, Chris Leedom called me to join a Twenty Group and I said, “Thanks but we don’t need that program.” I shudder to think how arrogant we were then. We thought we knew everything about Buy Here-Pay Here. I can assure you, we did not. The lesson is that we are never, too experienced, too large or too smart to continue our education. If you think you know it all, you have made a serious miscalculation.

The reality is that we must continue our education every day and in every way. We must look at our educational expenditures as investments and not as expenses. The reality of education is that “a good education does not cost, a good education pays”. Please don’t get educated at the school of hard knocks.
Vol 1, Issue 1

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