Gaining the Competitive Edge As A Member Of A 20 Group
Before I go into the “why”, let’s discuss the “what”. Specifically, what is a 20 group? A “20 Group” is a group of dealers in noncompeting markets that get together in exotic locations nationally and internationally, on a quarterly basis, to “synergize”. Although once required that a group consist of approximately 20 dealers (hence the name “20 Group”), this does not always hold true today. Some “20 groups” consist of 30 dealers while others may only consist of 15. Ultimately, the number of dealers in the group is not as relevant as the criteria by which the group itself is structured.
Today 20 Groups are structured a little differently, but it’s important to understand their origin in order to appreciate their evolution. Originally, the 20 group audience was composed of Dealer Principals, General Managers and/or senior executives of the dealership. It also originally focused on franchise dealerships. For example, in a “Toyota” 20 Group, you would find 20 different Toyota dealerships from 20 different markets, usually from all over the country. But even though the franchise was exactly the same, diversity still existed within the “Toyota” 20 group itself. For example, you could have dealerships that were small, large, part of a dealer group, part of a corporation, in a rural area, in the city, single point or part of a multi franchise point; all with different strengths, weaknesses, passions and fears. These dealers were intentionally diverse. This was imperative to the success of the 20 group to ensure impartial feedback.
Some of the most common areas of comparison, coverage and discussion in a traditional 20 group were:
- Financial Composite
- Break Down of Different Departments
- New Car Sales
- Used Car Sales
- Advertising / Marketing
- Vendors / Suppliers
- CSI / Customer Service
- Human Resources
- OEM Situations
- Accounting / Floor Plan
How was the data collected? Each dealer within the 20 Group would be responsible for filling out their “input sheets”, which would become part of the overall 20 group composite. The input sheets worked as the core for analyzing all of the details, metrics and financials mentioned above. The sheer act of an individual dealership filling out an input sheet and tracking the proper metrics was worth the price of membership. Always remember, what isn’t being tracked, can’t be measured and what can’t be measured, cannot be improved upon. Surprisingly, a lot of dealerships today still simply “wing it”. The 20 group input sheets forces the dealers to hold themselves accountable because they have no choice but to fill them out. Lack of doing so could lead to the dealer being fined or worse yet, kicked out of the 20 group completely. After all, in order for the composite to hold its validity, the numbers must be true. Garbage in equates to garbage out. Now with those completed input sheets, the 20 group, led by the 20 Group “Moderator”, was able to take the dealers individual metrics and consolidate all 20 dealerships’ input sheets into the group’s composite. Upon consolidation of the metrics, the moderator and each dealer within the 20 group, is able to see the entire 20 Group in one view and see which dealers are excelling and which individual category they are excelling in. On the opposite spectrum, the group could see which dealers are struggling, where and why. From this data, the group could create “standards” or “benchmarks”. The group could see who is above, below or on track for 20 Group standards. But, this is only the beginning. Now that all of this “field intelligence” has been exposed, the real “SYNERGY” begins! Within each individual 20 Group session, dealers spend time discussing what is successful, what vendors are good and what strategies are successful. Also, what vendors are bad and what to do when bad things happen. In essence, the composite acts as a conversational starter. The true value is being part of a specific group of like minded people, at your level (or better) and the group works together for one sole goal…to evolve the entire group synergistically.
The core principals described above still remain constant and relevant for today’s 20 groups. People need cars today like they needed cars back then. That hasn’t changed. But what has changed, is the medium by which people are buying cars. With 97% of consumers going online prior to stepping foot into a dealership, the Internet Sales Department was created. As mentioned, 20 Groups originally were for franchised dealers and broken down by franchise. Soon after, Independent Dealership 20 Groups started popping up, followed by:
- Used Car 20 Groups
- Special Finance 20 Groups
- GM 20 Groups
- CFO 20 Groups
- Internet Sales 20 Groups
20 Groups are essential for success in today’s market. Shakespeare said “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”. If you are a Dealer Principal, GM, Internet Sales or BDC Director or any other senior executive within a dealership or dealer group, I suggest that you find a 20 Group that fits your dealership’s focus and needs.
Remember to find the RIGHT 20 Group for your unique needs and situation. You do not want to join a CFO 20 Group if you are looking for BDC information and clarity. Just like you wouldn’t hire a Service Writer Trainer to train your Internet Sales Department, you do not want to join a “traditional” 20 Group if you need information, strategy and clarity for Internet Sales. I also suggest that you are careful with 20 Groups that claim to do “everything”. Dr Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says “Put First Things First”. Meaning, you want to identify which area of the dealership you want to perfect first and concentrate solely on that department. Once you solidify the success of that specific department, you can move on to the next focus. For example, if you want to compare and synergize with other Porsche Dealerships, then join a Porsche 20 Group. But if you are looking for clarity on your Internet Sales Department, BDC or Digital Marketing initiative, then find a 20 group that specializes in that area.