Austin meeting big on valuable takeaways
When nearly three dozen dealer principals and general managers gathered in Austin, Texas, for the Texas Motorcycle Dealers Association’s Annual Conference in February, they were doing what they’ve always done so well — keeping an eye out for each other’s business and, simply, having each other’s back.
“I’ve had people from the outside tell me we’re the most active state dealer association in the country,” said Mark Lamb, who currently serves as president of the association while owning DFW Honda, a Level 5 Honda Powerhouse dealership in Grapevine, Texas. “We do have a lot of camaraderie, and the friendships for most of us go back decades.”
So on one hand, the turnout and over a century of experience collectively as dealership owners was impressive. On the other hand, there are more than 300 dealerships in Texas, and it would behoove all of them to become members and join the association as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.
The 49th running of the annual meeting packed plenty into a one-night hotel stay. Dealers gathered in Austin — it’s such a great spot that it was a near-unanimous choice to hold the 50th anniversary meeting there — and were welcomed to the downtown Courtyard Marriott on a Saturday night. A reception at the hotel was followed by “dinner on your own,” which allowed dealers to renew acquaintances at their leisure, and provided sponsors such as Federated Insurance, McGraw Powersports, Motorsports in Motion, Protective and Rider’s Advantage an opportunity to network. Dealers appreciated the plentiful Tex-Mex and BBQ options nearby for dinner.
On Sunday, McGraw Powersports sponsored the 8 a.m. buffet breakfast, which preceded Lamb’s opening remarks and welcome. A series of seminars followed, with topics including Insurance Loss Prevention, Contract Labor-Employment and Advertising Rules, presented by Corrie Alvarado, an attorney from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
But the most impressive part of the day-long gathering was the dealer roundtable discussion. At each TMDA meeting, three dealers are appointed to talk briefly about an aspect of their dealership that has taken a significant turn for the better over the past year. Of course, the dealer shares the “how” and “why” details about the best practice in hopes that fellow dealers in attendance can bring home the tactics that they can employ in their own dealerships. With that in mind, we don’t want to give away the highly valuable information that those dealers in attendance received. Let’s just say, though, that Bob Kee from Destination Cycle Sports in Kerrville (Service); Steve Littlefield from Central Texas Powersports in Georgetown (Sales) and Carlos Gonzalez from Cycle Center of Denton (Parts & Accessories) all provided impressive presentations that ranged from auction tips related to service department efficiencies; to accessorizing not only UTVs but also dirt bikes and adventure bikes; to recognizing your local sales trends, especially in the UTV market.
After that session, dealers were plenty energized for a lunch sponsored by Federated Insurance, during which TMDA lobbyist Royce Poinsett provided an update about chatter at the state capitol, and how it could affect dealership owners. Poinsett, incidentally, had plenty to do with helping expedite the Slingshot legislation that made its sales possible in the state.
The association’s general business meeting followed, and the board gathered for a brief meeting to finish the day’s proceedings before 4:30 p.m.
There were a handful dealership owners in attendance who were taking part in the annual meeting for the first time. The consensus among them was “I had no idea that I was missing all of this by not attending,” and all of them vowed to return next year.
And, as Lamb and others in the association could not emphasize enough, ideally they will bring a dealer friend or two with them to the meeting next year, and their 50th celebration will host a Texas-sized dealer turnout.