Don’t cut with a dull chain

By Bob Clements

It hardly seems possible that another year has rolled around with the 2011 Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) set to take place Thursday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Oct. 29, at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center. During the past three years, I’ve had the honor of being a part of what this year will be known as the Dealer Resource Pavilion. This year, I’m looking forward to meeting many new dealers, but also reconnecting with those dealers that I’ve been privileged to work with during the past 17 years.

As the plans for the 2011 GIE+EXPO began to come together early this year, those involved with the organization of the Dealer Resource Pavilion met with several dealers in Louisville to discuss what the Pavilion would look like and what educational events should be offered. The dealers offered their insights on types of training they would like to see for themselves and their employees, and based upon their feedback, we began the work of bringing all the elements together.

Partnering with the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA), we began contacting key outdoor power equipment industry manufacturers and suppliers, which over the years have shown a true commitment to the growth of dealerships not only in North America but worldwide, and asked them to serve as sponsors. These are companies like Briggs and Stratton and Cub Cadet, Gravely, Husqvarna and Stihl that invest tens of thousands of dollars every year to help OPE dealers achieve success. We also have vendors like ARI, Ideal Computer Systems, Lista and Heftee that invest thousands of dollars and personnel to the Pavilion to help showcase the newest and best ideas for making dealerships efficient and profitable.

We had a lot of requests last year to bring back the high-performance service department, which is what my team at Bob Clements International (BCI) — along with Ideal, Lista and Heftee — will be featuring throughout the entire event. Join my BCI team and I as we share with you our service processes and answer questions you have on how to turn your shop into a money machine.

I am also excited to bring together a series of workshops on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that will cover everything from legal issues facing OPE dealers today, leveraging social media, driving more leads and sales through your website, building a highly profitable service department, and taking advantage of aftermarket selling opportunities to create more profit in your dealership.

On Thursday morning from 10:30 to 11:30, you will have an opportunity to meet Gary Antoniewicz, an attorney that specializes in dealership issues. Gary’s workshop will be interactive as he shares his thoughts on current situations facing dealerships today. Whether you have specific questions you would like to ask Gary or want to sit back, listen, and learn, his session is sure to give you new insight on what to do and avoid doing as you work to build a profitable dealership.

We kick off Thursday afternoon with Bob McCann, who is the director of education for ARI and a great presenter with a powerful message. His workshops are fast paced, fun, and designed to give dealers the tools they need to harness the power and profitability of their website. If you are open to having some fun and learning about generating and converting your web leads into sales, then you are not going to want to miss Bob’s workshop, which will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

On Friday morning, we start our workshop off with Sabrina Sebastian with Fastline Publications. Sabrina is an industry expert in leveraging today’s social media for dealership marketing. From Facebook to YouTube, the Internet gives dealers today access to an audience that just a few years back was impossible to reach. During her workshop, which will take place from 10:30 to 11:30, Sabrina will show you simple and effective ways to develop a positive dynamic presence for your dealership that will set you apart from your competition and have your customers “raving” about what you do.

As we move into Friday afternoon, I am going to change the focus over to the service department. From 2 to 3:30 p.m., I — along with guests from the sponsors of the Dealer Resource Pavilion — will share with you ideas that you can use to make your service department both profitable and efficient. This will be an interactive session where we will discuss service processes, compensation programs, labor rates, marketing, and how to build your own flat-rate pricing program. If you are looking for the latest ideas on how to make your service department the profit machine it should be, this is a workshop you won’t want to miss.

On Saturday morning, for those hearty souls that just haven’t had enough, I will be doing a workshop from 10 to 11 on taking advantage of aftermarket selling opportunities. During the past 12 months, I have been working hard to get the dealers that I consult with to take advantage of the profit opportunities presented in aftermarket sales. From extended warranties to presold service packages, 30 percent of the customers that buy wholegoods from you will spend more money if you just give them the ability to do it. This promises to be a fast-paced, profitable way to wrap up GIE+EXPO 2011.

If you haven’t attended GIE+EXPO for a few years, I want to encourage you to take the time and come. I hear dealers complain all the time about GIE+EXPO being the same old thing year after year, but it’s just not true. If you invest your time in just the Dealer Resource Pavilion and nothing else, I promise you that you will walk away with new ideas on how you can enjoy your dealership more and take away more money. GIE+EXPO is an opportunity to connect with new people who are making things happen in the industry, as well as reconnect with those old friends who have helped the industry get to where it is at today. The OPE industry is in for exciting times — there is less competition than ever and more people reinvesting in their properties because of the economy.

I know that most of you sell chain saws, sharpen chain, and know the extra time and energy it takes to cut down a tree with a dull chain. Pros take the time to keep their chain sharp — it’s safer and faster to use, as well as easier on the saw. Make this year’s GIE+EXPO your chain-sharpening event and see how it pays off next season.

See you in Louisville…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the Dealer Resource Pavilion and GIE+EXPO, visit]

 Bob Clements is the president of Bob Clements International, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in the development of high-performance dealerships. His organization works hands on with dealerships throughout North America, helping them attain the personal freedom and financial wealth all owners strive to achieve. For more information, contact Bob Clements at (800) 480-0737 or or visit his website at


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