Dealer peer groups exchange information – So, what’s the big deal?
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HAVING BEEN PRIVY to many dealers’ thoughts and beliefs about peer groups, I thought it was time to chime in on the pros and cons of being in a group.

In my role as a consultant and trainer, which includes facilitating peer groups, it is apparent there is a misunderstanding about these types of groups and their purpose.

Consulting companies use a variety of names to market their peer group programs. A sample of some of these names include 20 groups, industry groups, business groups, peer groups, 20/20 groups, and more.

Regardless of the name, all groups are meant to serve the same purpose, which is to expose, discuss and gather suggestions from other members related to best practices, leadership issues, financial performance, industry trends, family/personal dynamics, manufacturer pressures, succession planning and everything else that makes operating a dealership difficult.

Listening to dealers, their employees, and industry people, the peer group confusion is related to a lack of understanding about how groups are formatted. I will get into that later.

As noted by a mentor of mine who is a seasoned facilitator, “The peer group members are your board of directors. Where else can you be as open and honest about your issues and, in return, get a basket of suggestions from genuinely concerned people who have lived it or experiencing the same issues.” We share our work struggles with family and friends but do they really understand our challenges? In a peer group, when you are transparent with your issues, the members feel your pain. They live the same day-to-day struggles.

During a recent visit with a dealer, the topic of peer groups arose. This dealer started his company in the late ’70s. He said he had been in a peer group program for 30+ years. In his office, the bookshelf immediately behind his chair held about 10 years’
worth of peer group financial data and meeting notes. Currently, data is sent electronically but he showed me the outdated stack of peer group reports to demonstrate his commitment and belief in the peer program. With 30+ years in a peer group, I asked: “How does a peer group benefit your dealership that has above average profitability, uses best operational practices, and employs a team that is very capable of doing their jobs?”

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Western Equipment Dealer Magazine Fall 2018 Issue
By Trent Hummel

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