Every worthwhile education has its price. We have all heard that before, but what exactly does that mean? Well, sometimes a young man or woman will venture off to college. Everyone knows that often with a college education comes a tuition and college loans. Sometimes a student might get a “free ride” by obtaining scholarships to cover the cost of a loan. But, even though they did not pay a penny for their education, they still paid a price. You see, in order to get those scholarships they have to study harder and spend even more time in the books in order to maintain a high grade point average needed to maintain those scholarships. One way or another, they pay for their education.
Education comes in all kinds of ways, not just from colleges and universities. If you have been in the car business any amount of time, you know there really isn’t a “school” or “class” for how to be a car dealer. That is, until you partner up with VIADA. The association’s slogan has been, “Serving the most successful Independent dealers since 1960”, and that is a fact! I count several ways VIADA is working to make you The Best Dealership you can be! I want to highlight just a few of the ways VIADA works to keep you and all other dealerships, members and non-members alike, out of the School of Hard Knocks.
Recertification: I start with what is probably the most controversial method VIADA has for keeping dealers informed and up to date on the ever changing State and Federal laws that regulate your industry. Not all dealers were in favor of this mandate that came down in January of 2011. I heard more than one dealer ask, “What are they going to teach me that I don’t already know?” But, more often I have heard dealers boast about the things they learned after taking the course and it is gratifying to hear them express their appreciation. Now, VIADA works hard to create and maintain the curriculum for this course. In fact, Pete Iaricci, VIADA’s Trainer/Consultant has recently revamped the entire course for both online and classroom environments. But, that leads me to an important fact most do not recognize. You see, while the other provider of the Recertification course has all but given up on the classroom course and gone primarily to an online class, VIADA recognizes that the older generation would rather spend a day on a college campus to learn something than they would log into a website. While the classroom environment may not seem economically viable to the competing recertification provider, VIADA feels a need to cater to all dealerships and have made a commitment to continue providing the classroom environment to all dealers. This recertification is only required every three years and is a great investment for keeping you in tune with the changes in the automotive industry.
Videos, Dealer Days, and Expos: VIADA has been hosting an annual convention and expo for as long as I can remember. These are great opportunities for members to gain access to educational seminars and industry vendors. About two years ago, the Association began hosting Dealer Days all around the Commonwealth. These can be described as a mini state convention crammed into one day. Most recently, VIADA began videotaping these educational seminars and making these videos available to members only on its website, www.VIADA.org. Simply log in as a member, click on the Videos link, and you will see the first six videos made available online. They have only been available for a couple of months, but already more than 15% of the members have taken in at least one video. VIADA is working to release more videos from the most recent convention held in Virginia Beach. Now, if a member could not attend the expo or Dealer Day, they can still gain from the experience by taking time out to watch one or all of the videos on their own schedule.
District Meetings: The Association is made up of eight districts. Each of these districts holds dinner meetings all throughout the year, generally 4-6 times a year. These meetings are usually sponsored by a vendor that the association and/or its officers have deemed as being beneficial to the industry and as being reputable companies to work with. Sometimes, though, the best experience you get from these meetings is just being around others who have chosen the same profession you chose. You see, if you go to a family reunion and start “talking shop”, your family is likely to think you are crazy! But when you share some of your horror stories with others who have been in your shoes, you will often learn from others who have gone before you. Sometimes you can learn from your own mistakes, but it is even better when you can learn from someone else’s mistakes. When you walk away from these meetings, you are always assured you will take something beneficial back to your dealership.
Andy McIntyre once said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” It is not what you pay for the education that matters; it is what you take from it. VIADA has a constant drive to help you stay informed on the ever changing automotive industry. All you have to do is take it in.
Now, let’s all show them what we learned and go Sell Something!