Like many small business owners, used-car dealers feel they can’t take a vacation.
But they should change that thinking.
Two-thirds of small business owners think taking a personal vacation benefits their business, including improved focus, creativity and motivation, according to a survey by Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. Despite knowing the importance and benefits of completely unplugging from work, only 25 percent of small business owners are able to do so, and nearly three-quarters worry about the work and responsibilities they are missing during their time off.
“While small business owners enjoy making their own schedule and being their own boss, they often miss out on perks such as guaranteed paid time off,” said Vibhat Nair, general manager of Chase Card Services.
Some dealers do manage to take time off to visit far off destinations such as Spain and Italy. But those are more of the exception.
While there are some real reasons why dealers can’t take time off, many times it comes down to a concern that the store can’t run without them. That’s a problem that’s often just in their heads, said Joe Lescota, director of dealer development for the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.
“If a dealer says he can’t go on vacation, then I question that dealer’s ability to lead,” Lescota said.
Lescota said the real test of any business is how well it runs when the boss is absent.
Brent Carmichael, a Twenty Group moderator with NCM Associates Inc., said all of his members take some time off.
“I don’t know anybody who will take two weeks of vacation,” Carmichael said. “But I don’t know anybody who doesn’t take some time off.”
In addition, more and more dealerships are requiring that their staffs take time off to avoid burn out.
Most take their vacations in June or July, since those are slower months for car sales.
About a quarter of Carmichael’s members use their summer Twenty Group meeting for a vacation.
That’s why these events take place in locales such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Key West, Fla., rather than an airport hotel like the winter meetings.
That’s a fairly common practice. The Marriott Rewards study found 85 percent of small business owners intentionally carve out time for personal activities during a business trip.
Luke Godwin, owner of Godwin Motors in Columbia, S.C., is planning a trip to the wine country when he visits Freeman Motors in Oregon this summer with his Twenty Group.
Anthony Underwood, the owner of Anthony Underwood Automotive in Bessemer, Ala., and former NIADA president, said he liked to combine travel with his greatest interest – the car business.
“I’d take advantage of the (NIADA) convention and make it a vacation,” Underwood said.
This allows dealers to feel productive while giving them and their families some needed time away from the routine.
That’s part of the reason these events often take place at high-end locations.
For example, this year’s National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers conference takes place May 23-25 at the Wynn/Encore in Las Vegas.
Encore was recently renovated and won the Travelers Magazine award as one of the finest hotels in Las Vegas. All the Encore rooms are suites.
The NIADA convention also takes place in Las Vegas, June 12-15 at the Mirage.
So dealers can spend time learning how to better run their businesses during the day while their families play with dolphins and then enjoy a nice meal in the evening.
NABD offers an early registration discount through April 21. For NIADA, the discount runs through May 11.
It might not be everybody’s idea of an ideal vacation, but hundreds of dealers will take it.