Bring Out the Speakers

By Jeffrey Bellant July 22, 2021 278

Joe Lescota is back.

The guy who helped develop the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s Certified Master Dealer program will be leading two sessions at NIADA’s 75th Annual Convention & Expo in San Antonio next month.

If you have the chance, go see this guy. 

Lescota, a former chairman of Northwood University’s automotive marketing department, is one of several top-quality dealer/trainers/speakers who appear at various auto conferences.

I want to talk about a few of the good presenters I’ve seen over the years. After nearly two decades covering the business, I’ve seen some really solid people.

Lescota is in the top tier. He provides tons of helpful information and he’s highly entertaining.

One of my favorite Lescota lines was back in the days when DVD players were first becoming popular features in minivans.

Customers were so enamored with the DVD option, that Lescota quipped, “They buy the DVD player – the minivan just comes with it.”

Lescota is also big on turning inventory. The faster the turn, the better. With inventory so tight, turn isn’t a problem right now.

But when inventory was plentiful, I remember him asking a dealer about his business.

The dealer said he sold about 10 cars a month.

Lescota asked him how many cars he kept on his lot.

“About 100,” he answered.

Lescota began shaking so violently, I flashed back to my 2nd grade teacher Miss Harris throttling me when I didn’t understand a lesson.

Another thing. Don’t ask him about inflatable gorillas as a marketing tool. It won’t go well for you.

Chuck Bonanno is another top-notch trainer and 20 group moderator. He’s a guy who is also funny and knowledgeable.

Get him talking about buy-here, pay-here customers riding around in their $5,000 hoopties that are sporting $3,000 spinner rims and you won’t be bored.

Bonanno recently moved from NIADA to Buckeye Dealership Consulting in Ohio.

Another solid former 20-group moderator is David Brotherton, who also joined Buckeye with Bonanno. The firm is collecting free agents like the old Oakland Raiders of the NFL.

 Two outstanding sales trainers are longtime favorites of auto conferences: D.J. Harrington and George Dans.

Harrington is the prop-comic master speaker. He might wear a conductor’s. hat, while blowing a train whistle, or a lab coat with the title ‘CARdiologist’ on the front.

When he brings out the shouder-length latex examination glove, RUN!

But, seriously, he’s a popular trainer in how to work the phones.

Dans, however, is like the college football coach of the auto industry. He will fire you up.

Let’s say he’s holding a 10 a.m. workshop in Las Vegas and you were up until 4 a.m. the night before losing your bankroll.

If you slide into his session hoping for some shuteye, well, fuhgettaboutit!

He will tear the bark off your eyes.

Oh, if you need some legal guidance, anyone from Hudson-Cook will set you straight. Don’t let Tom Hudson’s ‘Aw, shucks, country-lawyer’ routine fool you. He’s as sharp as a prison shiv. (Not that I would know anything about that.)

And did I mention former NIADA legal eagle Shaun Petersen? Another great speaker – and also now with Buckeye Consulting. (I told you. Raiidddaahhhs!)

Let’s not leave the ladies out of it either. Nicole Munro, also a Hudson-Cook attorney, brings great info to the sessions she runs.

Going off the grid a bit, a Florida attorney who has given some great presentations in the past at NIADA is Cheryl Wilke, a partner at Lewis Brisbois in Ft. Lauderdale.

Great information, straight advice, friendly demeanor – and she will think you into the ground.

On the data side, Rene Abdalah, a guy who’s been in the business a while and is now with Black Book, always provides great insight. He’ll be joining Lescota on the NIADA agenda this year.

Other great numbers guys who you might find on the conference circuit are Eric Ibara of Kelley Blue Book and Jonathan Banks of J.D. Power.

In terms of NIADA this year, Steve Levine of Ignite Consulting, is a strong reliable veteran speaker, as well.

For discissions on economics, always check out KAR Global’s Tom Kontos and Cox Automotive’s Jonathan Smoke.

So, keep an eye out for some of these speakers in future conferences – and bring a notebook.

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Last modified on Thursday, 07 October 2021 04:19