I left Toronto during the biggest heatwave of 2017, mid-September. I now sit on the runway in Calgary, November 9, and I watch them de-ice the wings of our plane. Calgary resembles the absolute dead of winter.
This time of year is always seriously busy, conferences and summits to speak at, booths to work, industry folks to network with. This year's tour brought me (with various different members of Nextup) 11 venues around North America. The cool thing about this fall was that 9 of the dates were in Canada. It's common-place to be traveling south to the US as the show schedule seems to fill every month of the calendar now but this fall some unique stuff took place in the Great White North.
I'll huff and puff and blow your house down...
Hurricane IRMA added dates to my schedule early on as I was asked by my dear friend Kate Frost to cover for her at the Trillium Automotive Dealers Association's shows in Toronto and Ottawa as she had to get her extended family the hell out of Florida as that massive storm rocked the southeast US. I had to bring Kate's vast knowledge of Instagram strategies to Ontario, thankfully Kate presents her strategies in such a simply brilliant way I was able to do her session justice help dealers wrap their heads around the subject matter.
Weather aside I had the good fortune to bring 2 sessions I love presenting to dealers all across Canada. Beautiful locales were the destinations for "Marketing to Millennials is for Suckers". Banff, Alberta and Whistler, British Columbia are easily two of the most beautiful places in Canada, if not the world. The Motor Dealers of Alberta and New Car Dealers of British Columbia were amazing hosts and put on world-class events for their members. It was an honor to be asked keynote at both shows.
The common sense message never gets lost on the audience. We are in an era of "headline readers" and most of us get caught up listening solely to the soundbites rather than taking the time to truly dig into whether what the "experts" are telling us. Those digging deeper are going to find this a more valuable strategy for their businesses.
"I wish my manager and owner was here to see this session"
A common sense theme seemed to follow the tour everywhere, mainly based on the content being delivered. Definitely not in my dietary choices some days. Google ThinkDealer invited us out on their tour across Canada with them for 5 dates that covered the entire country. We closed every one of their shows with "How Sick Is Your Sales Floor?", easily our most interactive session.
The basis of the session is to have dealers and other staff in the audience identify symptoms of a sick floor, the long-term effects of not treating it and finally doing some honest "self-diagnosis". The diagnosis part we handled via text-based polling. Not always the most stable technology but we had great software and the audience engagement was killer. Some have called this a "tough-love" session and it is. It's not supposed to spend an hour of the audience's time puffing everyone up, we're to look, honestly, where we can improve.
Many audience members came up after and shared that they and their team needed to hear the message. I hope they can carry through and make real change happen. Others came up and said, "I wish my manager and owner was here to see this session". This is all too common. Management and ownership often send anyone else but themselves to these events. I understand they have businesses to run and teams to lead, however, I also feel that our inability to get true change in our processes and culture is due to the leaders of these stores NOT attending. I hope, I really hope this changes.
I would like to thanks the entire gang from Google for letting Clint and I be apart of their posse all across Canada. I'm just waiting for a letter from Google HQ about all the swearing...
Workbooks and stopwatches.
Digital Dealer and the Driving Sales Executive Summit allowed us to unveil 2 new sessions, "The Mother of All Content Strategies Builds" & "86,400 - The Truest Measure of Time".
"Mother" was a huge double session on the second day of Digital Dealer that took the attendees through a full content planning session. Brief writing, content assessments and lots of team dynamic filled the session. You see, there were no slides in this session, not a one! Attendees were handed a workbook at the start of the session, pens, and pencils. This is how we worked for over 2 hours. Attendees were also broken into teams so that one of their member's briefs could be taking through brainstorm and short-listing.
I didn't really know what to expect but when you saw teams of dealers working well past our allotted time you knew had done some truly unique. The team did a great job assembling the book and participating with the teams throughout the session.
"86,400" took a much deeper look into where "How Sick Is Your Sales Floor" left off. The session looked at the customer experience breakdown happening at the dealership, every shift, and how it's affecting everyone. What was most telling is that the majority of the room, ok everyone in the room, admitted to not have accurate time to track of staff activity in place.
To go one further when I asked the room why dealers and their staffs dislike technology and data, one dealer's reply was "because it makes us accountable". He deserved a standing "slow clap". It's true, management and ownership are allowing for bad habits to linger and are the last wanting to really input change.
There's no place like home.
Now that the crush of the fall show season is behind us it's really good to be home and start to look towards 2018. I will conclude with this thought that I share with audiences no matter where I speak. "We are accelerating ourselves towards the things we fear the most, through our own bad habits". It's time for all of us to look inward now and see where we can improve things for our customers, our staffs, and our businesses.
True disruption doesn't need sweeping grand changes, it's small changes, every day, that moves the needle. The true test is to stay with your strategy and see it through. I hope that all of those in the audience see that to be truly disruptive it means that they have to be willing to change. Change their process, change their showroom structures, change their cultures.
I asked it at the start of the year and I'll ask it again. "Is your dealership really capable of genuine change?" I hope you are.