Hirsch: RVDA Convention Stresses Education
Editor’s Note: The following column, authored by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Jeff Hirsch and appearing in the June issue of RV Executive Today, previews the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo and the array of learning opportunities for attendees.
I’ve never liked learning from my own personal experiences – it costs way too much. I agree with Ben Franklin, who said, “Experience is a dear school, and fools will learn in no other.”
I also agree with Albert Einstein’s comment that the world’s problems can’t be solved by the same kind of thinking that created them. I contend that our business problems also can’t be solved by the same kind of thinking that created them.
Where am I going with this? The reality is that occasionally we all need to change our way of thinking, to have our world view shaken up a bit. At the very least, we need to update and add to our knowledge base. The trick is to do so as efficiently and painlessly as possible. And preferably, we can learn from someone else’s hard-bought experience.
I know how you can benefit from the combined wisdom of dozens of smart business people at one place and time. There’s an event that’s been developed specifically for RV dealers and their employees, one that offers the chance to learn better ways of operating virtually every aspect of our businesses. I’m referring, of course, to the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo.
You may have attended previous RVDA conventions, but this year’s has been taken to a different level altogether. As you’ve heard, in response to members’ requests for a change of venue, the locale has been moved to Bally’s on the Las Vegas Strip, right in the middle of the action. We’ll have all of the city’s glamour and excitement right at hand for after-hours entertainment. The Bally’s staff has been working with us for months to ensure that the transition to a new location is smooth and that the show is the best ever.
Also at members’ requests, the timing of the event has been pushed back later in the year – to Nov. 10-14 – so that it doesn’t interfere with the busy fall selling season. RVDA has frequently heard dealers claim they would bring more employees to the convention if only they could be spared from the dealership. Well, we heard you – now you have a great new location and more convenient dates.
I’m a big advocate for taking as many staffers as possible to the convention. Giving them the chance to be part of this event has made a huge difference to my employees’ professional development and lightened my load as a dealer principal. It’s difficult for me to relate everything I learn at the convention to everyone back home, and the messages I hear are different from what a service or sales manager would hear. The convention is a great opportunity for me to spend quality time with my staff and build for their future and the company’s.
RVDA has kept the registration rate as low as possible so you can bring more people. There are discounts for additional staff, special two-day offers, and a variety of pay plans. The investment you make in your employees is part of your competitive advantage, so I hope you’ll consider bringing as many of your top-level staffers as possible. Let’s not learn from our own experiences – it’s too expensive.
There are many more reasons why this convention will be out of the ordinary. We already have four Vendor Training +Plus sessions scheduled. These extended, customized learning sessions give attendees the chance to delve deeper into subjects with representatives from compa- nies they do business with. Thanks to AL-KO Axis, Blue Ox, Lippert Components and Integrated Dealer Systems for their early support. We’ll be announcing more sessions soon.
This year’s exhibit hall is also larger than previous years and will accommodate more companies. In fact, with six months still left until the convention, expo space is already almost 60 percent sold. And first-time exhibitors are showing great interest in joining us this year. Be sure to get the jump on the latest and greatest the expo has on display this year.
Not everything will change – the popular Partners In Progress brand committee meetings will once again give dealers the chance to discuss important brand-specific issues with their manufacturers, and there will be education tracks for dealers/GMs and managers in sales, service, parts, and rental operations. Not to mention inspiring speakers, including Doug Lipp, the dynamo who helped shape Disney University’s world-famous customer service training. This presentation alone will be worth the price of admission.
We couldn’t put on the convention/expo without the generosity of our partners. As of press time, the convention is being supported by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (platinum partner), Protective (gold partner), and MBA Insurance, Bank of the West, and Diversified Insurance Management (bronze partners). My deepest appreciation goes to those who invest in us for a brighter future.
Five concentrated days of learning from the best in the business, the chance to network with colleagues and to enjoy one of the country’s most popular cities – that’s what I call smart learning.