On the surface, the 2017 Dealers’ Choice Awards is basically a list: 34 categories, 63 winners, 99 awards. If one failed to read the rules or press surrounding the program, one might assume the publishers and editors of this magazine select each year’s first-place Diamond, second-place Platinum and third-place Gold award winners ourselves. One might even be moved to send critical emails to our staff in protest. (It happens.)
In truth, we are merely tabulators. The Dealers’ Choice Awards are decided by you, our readers, and any other dealer, dealership manager or staffer who completes each year’s online survey. If you have taken it yourself, you know it is no walk in the park. You must manually enter the name of each company you wish to honor in each category. You must then rate those companies on the value of their product or service, the quality of said product or service, the quality of each company’s customer service, and whether you would recommend them to another dealer.
Before you even get to the actual voting, you must identify yourself and list your contact information. We don’t rent or sell that data. We spot-check randomly selected surveys to be sure those voters truly belong to a dealership. Once all those phone calls have been made and we are satisfied that no malfeasance is afoot and our results are genuine, the tabulation process begins.
Because the votes are manually entered, they must be, for all intents and purposes, manually counted. Of course, the quality of the votes counts much more than the quantity, so we have to track the quality and referral scores as well — for every last company, in every last category. I assure you I wouldn’t wish that particular spreadsheet upon my worst enemy.
From the moment each year’s survey goes live to the moment the official results are announced, at least part of our workday is spent reading emails and taking phone calls about the awards. Most are curious, some are encouraging, and a few are hostile. We answer them all.
The marketing efforts that precede and promote the survey, the ceremony at Industry Summit, and the awards themselves are all paid for by the magazine. Accepting sponsorship dollars before the votes are counted would (and should) invite accusations of impropriety.
So why do we do it?
The simple answer is that we believe in the program. Your hardest-working and most valuable industry partners deserve to be recognized in these pages and at Industry Summit. So thank you for filling out this year’s survey and thank you in advance for participating in next year’s program. Your vote counts, and it means an awful lot to the companies and individuals you rely on to keep your organization firing on all cylinders.