By Sean V. Bradley
This month is going to be a special edition, combining the Internet Sales 20 Group and the Synergy Sessions columns. I want to thank all the dealers who attended the event, which was held on May 13-14, and all the sponsors, exhibitors and speakers for their participation, passion and expertise. This was an awesome event, and I’m proud to say that, based on the feedback, we exceeded everyone’s expectations.
This was the first major event in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and, rest assured, New Orleans is definitely a great place to attend a show. The W hotel is a nice, modern hotel and they did a great job putting the event showroom together.
There is so much to go over, I am smiling as I am typing out this article I had so much fun there! Let’s start with a special thanks to Jeff Kershner from Dealer Refresh (www.dealerrefresh.com). Jeff allowed Dealer Synergy and AutoSuccess to post a contest on his Blog (http://www.dealerrefresh.com/my_weblog/2008/03/win-a-free-trip.html). The contest was to get managers and dealers to post ideas to Dealer Refresh on what they thought would make the Synergy Sessions the best possible event in the automotive industry for Internet sales, BDC and technology. We received a lot of feedback and a lot of great ideas.
Jeff picked a winner of the contest — Brian Tucker, Internet Sales Director of Swope Toyota in Kentucky. Brian won a VIP trip to New Orleans, registration for the event, a complimentary hotel room at the W for the entire event, flights to and from the event, a digital video camera, and VIP rock star treatment. Brian just posted his experience and insights on Dealer Refresh. Feel free to check it out.
All I can say is that the speakers really did their thing! We had an all-star line-up of the automotive industry’s Who’s Who — the Elite of the Elite. D.J. Harrington kicked off the 2008 Synergy Session. D.J. is a certified public speaker, a veteran of the car business, a motivational speaker and a truly gifted speaker who got everyone going at 8 a.m. He was hysterical — very inspiring, very motivating and very fun. If you haven’t seen D.J. speak before, you’ve got to see him, or at the very least hear him. He is truly a legend in the game.
Dealer.com had the polish, energy and content with a powerful presentation about search engine optimization (SEO) and secrets for a very successful Web site campaign.
Charlie Volgelheim, the VP of automotive for JD Power and Associates, presented the most up-to-date statistics and information as it relates to automotive Internet sales. Charlie also moderated a panel with D.J. Harington. The panel had some incredible dealer experts on the front lines:
• Ed Nacci of Herb Chambers
• Jeff Kershner of Dealer Refresh / MileOne
• Lindsey Toscano of Nelson Mazda
• Joe Cala of Gateway Toyota
• Eric Painter of Peruzzi Toyota
All of these dealer experts and their dealerships have achieved national recognition for their success in automotive Internet sales and BDC. The audience was fully engaged with the panel, which was one of the many highlights of the Synergy Sessions.
TK Carsites, Dealix, Skoots.com, Homenet, VAuto, Autotrader, Carsdirect, Carfolks, Franklin Covey — these companies were all on point, and they all came with their “A” game. I don’t have enough pages to break each and every speaker’s presentation down. All I will say is that the massive amount of feedback we have gotten about the speakers and the content was powerful and positive. Everyone seemed to get something from all of the speakers.
Some I spoke to were really enthralled about the TK Carsites presentation about the “Power of 5” — the concept of having multiple Web sites within the main site. Creating a multi-level Web site platform will assure the organic SEO domination they proclaim. Others have said that Ken Potter from Carsdirect had a truly refreshing perspective and appreciated his speaking style. Everyone seemed to love the stats from JD Power and Cobalt. There were “oohs” and “ahhs” when Skoots and VAuto presented some seriously unique technology.
Franklin Covey got a lot of respect from the audience. When we asked attendees what some of the favorite parts of the Synergy Session were, the Franklin Covey presentation and the interpretation of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as it relates to Internet Sales departments scored highly.
I love training and speaking in front of large crowds, but this event wasn’t a Dealer Synergy Bootcamp. This event was about getting the best of the best in the entire industry, including gurus, technology experts and more. We got the most respected research and data companies in the industry, like JD Power and Associates and Cobalt / Polk. We got the most passionate and talented speakers in the entire industry like DJ Harrington, Jeff Clark, Dean Evans, James Bradford, Ken Potter, Tom Azbill, Tim James — just to name a few. Then we got all nationally recognized dealership frontline experts to present.
Then we decided to kick it into a completely new stratosphere — we brought in Franklin Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is officially the most successful and influential business book of all time, with over 15 million copies in print in several different languages. Then, to top it off, we threw in a straight-up rock star VIP party that was hailed as better than most VIP parties at NADA.
I had a blast presenting, too! On the first day I presented on Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO), elaborating on the interview I did for AutoSuccess a few issues ago. I seemed to blow people’s minds with some of the most up-to-date statistics in regards to videos and the Internet. On the second day, I gave my interpretation of Dr. Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That was awesome to do, and to get such positive feedback from the Franklin Covey organization on my interpretation just made the whole experience that much more special for me.
In next month’s Internet Sales 20 Group column, I will be going into detail about “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Internet Sales Departments.” I look forward to all of your feedback on that upcoming article.
I could go on and on about how awesome the 2008 Synergy Sessions were. If you were there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, don’t worry; Kaizen Multi Media, who has clients like Sony and Walt Disney, provided a state-of-the-art mobile video production team to archive the entire Synergy Sessions and its incredible line-up of expert speakers, along with the thoughts of those who attended. Kaizen is hard at work editing the more than 40 hours of content, testimonials, presentations and the VIP party and will soon have a lot of video to post on our Web sites and on the Internet for your viewing pleasure.
We have decided to do the 2009 Synergy Sessions in March in Atlantic City New Jersey. We are planning something huge and special for Atlantic City. Please let us know if you have any ideas on what you would like to see for the event. We are going to start mapping this out in the next 30-60 days. Our goal at Dealer Synergy and AutoSuccess to literally blow all of your minds and outdo the 2008 Synergy Sessions in New Orleans.