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Kevin Cunningham

From the 20G: Members’ Advice for Getting the Most from Your Meeting


As a moderator, I’ve had the fortunate pleasure to work with wonderful NCM 20 Group members. I’m always impressed by the great pains they take to prepare for our discussions, and it’s clear to me that their work is the key to getting the best possible outcomes.  So I asked some of the most successful dealers I know to tell me exactly how they get the most from their meeting, and they agreed to let me share their insights in a blog. Please know much of the following article comes directly from their quotes.

Dealer One – Get your management team involved

I typically get my agenda and meeting materials 4-5 weeks prior to the actual meeting, so I have no excuses for not being prepared. To determine what my best opportunities are, I actively review my group composite, circling, highlighting, and making notes. This really keeps me focused throughout the meetings.

After I get my juices going, we get our management team together to review the agenda allowing me to delegate topics for their research and follow up. I like to do this for many reasons; however, most importantly, this lets me and my team know where our opportunities are. Also, when I read the responses from my team, I now am aware of their best thinking. This can—and has— create opportunities to develop people’s talents.

Note from Kevin: On a side note, while talking with our team at the NCM Institute, l learned that is a significantly high percentage of our class attendees don’t even know what their actual responsibilities are! There’s a real chance here for you to validate what you expect from your team and to communicate it in writing, then get them the training they need to meet your goals.

Dealer Two – Create a to-do List

After our follow-up management team meeting, I create my list of what I want to take away from the meeting. I ask myself of this trip’s purpose: “to make another dollar or to save another dollar?”

Dealer Three – Embrace the social aspects

Getting away from the store is vital to my own personal growth, as attending a meeting truly allows me to work “ON” my business instead of just working “IN” my business. During the meeting, I very specifically and clearly articulate what issue I want to get addressed.

Please know that I can and do get as much important feedback from the social events as I do in the meeting rooms. With so many individual agendas—some strategic, some operational—I try to pick out members who are already succeeding in the area I want to improve upon and make sure I get time with them regardless if it is in the meeting room or a group activity.

One more tip:  As so much of our sales are initiated though e-commerce channels, I work to review the websites of my fellow members and local competitors. This gives me an opportunity to compliment members and offer constructive criticism.

Dealer Four – Don’t scare your employees

Note from Kevin: A common thread I have witnessed over my decades with clients is the pages of notes and exuberant enthusiasm members go back to their stores with. So not to scare your team, the following notes from a member are ones I would recommend:

  1. On your first day back from a hectic travel event, try to sit down and get your notes and action plans organized.
  2. It is very important NOT to overwhelm your team with a “Meeting Mania” list of things, ideas, and processes you want implemented a week ago. So pick out the TOP THREE things you learned. Set up a meeting later in the week to discuss these ideas; get your team involved in the implementation or the construction of a new or modified process.
  3. Share all of the Best Ideas presented and collected while attending the meeting. After discussing them, distribute the ideas to your department heads where they best apply.
  4. Review the composite with your team when you get back. Also review it monthly and be as transparent as possible, so your staff knows the metrics you expect them to meet.

My dealers have given you a lot to think about, I realize, so let’s prioritize here. I think the key takeaways here are to know what you want to get from each meeting and make sure you put yourself in the position to get it. Stay focused and open to new ideas while attending your NCM 20 Group meeting. Bring back your ideas and, after a few days, share them with your team and discuss ideas for positive change.

As I am not in your shoes, I realize much of this is easy to say. As such, this is why I contacted your peer dealers to get the truth from those in your shoes. Here’s to great selling!

Learn more about Kevin Cunningham and how he and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership through 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.

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Kevin Cunningham

Imitation is the highest form of flattery for 20 Groups, too.

Business Team

Peer collaboration can come in many forms; it can come from conferences, blogs such as this one, news publications, discussion boards, and social media platforms.  Those are all good ways to share ideas, but there comes a time when surface-level chat doesn’t cut it.  When it’s time to get serious about taking your business to the next level; when you know you need to step out of the day-to-day business in order to work on the business, there’s no better platform in our industry than a 20 Group. Granted, I’m biased, but if you’re in a 20 Group or have been in a 20 Group in the past, you know nothing compares to the idea sharing and consistent and ongoing operational improvement and accountability that comes with peer collaboration among similar sized, like-franchise dealer peers in a true 20 Group environment.

But what is it that makes a 20 Group unique and separates it from other ways of collaborating?

As the automotive industry pioneer in 20 Groups, we’ve found that in order for the members to get the most benefit from their 20 Group experience, the following must be present:

  • Confidentiality
  • Non-competing dealerships
  • 20 or so members—that’s the peer collaboration sweet spot
  • Detailed analytical tools to help you compare your operation to your peers and Benchmark-level performers
  • Vigorous business discussions among all group members
  •  Members control agendas, meeting locations and who can join

That last point is an important distinction. We’ve found that when the members of the group have ownership over whether a dealer is or isn’t a market conflict, who to include in the group, where and when they meet, and what they discuss when they meet, the group will be more cohesive, stable and self-sustaining.  On a related note, your moderator should not arbitrarily bring in guest speakers, or dominate your meeting by consulting or selling; at least with NCM, we are going to let you control your meeting.

Those of us at NCM Associates have thoroughly enjoyed watching our innovatively-simple idea blossom into what is an invaluable asset to many car dealers and dealership managers, and to business owner-operators in many other industries as well.  We also consider it flattering that so many have emulated our concept.

We have seen other organizations and individuals offer traditional 20 Groups over the years, but don’t be fooled—a discussion platform, a conference or a training seminar is not a 20 Group. These formats have a place in the conversation, but they will never match the power of face-to-face collaboration where many lifelong friendships and accountability partners are born and endure.

So, remember:

  • If your competition is or can be there, it isn’t a 20 Group
  • If anyone can join, it isn’t a 20 Group
  • If there are hundreds of people involved, it isn’t a 20 Group
  • And if you don’t control the conversation, it isn’t an NCM 20 Group!

What do you think?  Are you confused by all the talk about what is and isn’t a true 20 Group?  Are you in a traditional 20 Group or have you found another form of peer collaboration that works for you?

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