I recently attended and participated in the NABD Dealer Academy and the NABD Buy Here, Pay Here (BHPH) Conference and, man, what a week it was! Ken Shilson and Ingram Walters of NABD have a tremendous understanding of the business from two different perspectives, which has honed the Dealer Academy into an excellent learning environment for helping guide new dealers toward success in BHPH. Participants were able to visit with many industry experts, including Brent Carmichael and yours truly, to discuss ways of continuing successful growth and profitability in the future.
During the Academy, there were many automobile dealers and other business people in attendance interested in learning about the BHPH business. The Dealer Academy stepped these entrepreneurs through a series of presentations, including mine on business models to others on benchmarks, underwriting tips and compliance to discussions about having a Related Finance Company or RFC, collections and much more. Other classes covered capital acquisition, finding inventory, reconditioning those vehicles for effective selling and how that aids in a successful portfolio. Additional tracks were about the importance of correct software with pointers on deciding which DMS is best for your operation, along with topics like credit bureaus, payment devices and metrics for monitoring your numbers, including joining a 20 Group.
All the training culminated into dealer roundtables facilitated by industry experts on various subjects. The roundtables had the Dealer Academy participants and experts standing together “eye to eye” discussing specific issues in a format similar to participating in a NCM 20 Group. I really believe discussion with peers is helpful for the participants to get a deeper understanding of the flood of information they received during the Academy. I held a roundtable on reconditioning which had a tremendous response. The conversation went far beyond the subject and showed me there is a real hunger to learn how to guide a new operation in the right direction – and avoid costly mistakes.
The BHPH National Conference began on Tuesday in grand fashion with the largest exhibit hall in the history of NABD. The education began immediately with the topic of compliance, a major theme throughout the event. There were education tracks that dove deeply into inventory, recovery, social media and customer retention. Each topic was taught by industry experts with contributions from dealer-operators who provided their unique perspectives on the subject.
The last day of the conference included more education from a variety of industry professionals and dealers on collections, current developments, technology and compliance. Everyone heard from John Linnehan Jr., this year’s inductee into the BHPH Hall of Fame. Following the Hall of Fame presentation, NCM moderator and consultant, Brent Carmichael, went through NCM’s benchmarks and trends for the industry relative to the past tax season. Brent’s use of trends established from years of NCM 20 Group benchmarks revealed how the critical first quarter has dramatically changed over the last several years.
The conference ended with a best practices panel, helpful for current and potential dealers who were looking for the right resources to ensure they are operating or will start their operations the right way. Similar to the advantages of an NCM 20 Group, the attendees of the NABD Dealer Academy and Conference did themselves a huge favor getting together with other dealers who have experienced the same issues and getting to know the vendors the successful dealers work with. What an advantage to gather invaluable information from their peers and the exhibitors so quickly and all in one convenient place!
Our industry is constantly changing and interest in BHPH is always growing. This was evident by the turnout of dealers and their great questions throughout the events. There is a lot of money that can be made in Buy Here Pay Here – and a lot of headaches that can come with it. Having an opportunity to find guidance from others who have experienced it can potentially save a dealer millions in unnecessary errors. So in this case, what happened in Vegas better NOT stay in Vegas!