The October American Co-OP meeting was another shining example of why these dealer group meetings are of great value to dealers.
(Above: CJ Cannata shares details about The Cannata Report’s May trip to Japan and our visits with the Big Six OEMs.)
CJ and I were invited to Dallas/Fort Worth for the American Co-OP meeting from October 24-26. Sadly, we had to miss the Jillian Fund Dinner, which took place on October 24. Carol Cannata and Scott Cullen represented The Cannata Report team in high style at the Jillian Fund Dinner, and from all reports it was a successful fundraiser. One thing is for sure, the women were all looking at what Carol was wearing. Even though we were not there we can state without fear of contradiction none of the men attending the Jillian event were interested in how Scott was dressed.
Humor aside, the Jillian Fund event shows the public that the industry that brought them the copier, facsimile, and software to enhance communication and provide tools for document management has a very big heart.
Meanwhile, at American Co-OP, CJ and I had a wonderful opportunity to meet with old friends and make new ones. These independent dealer groups are absolutely the best thing to ever happen to our industry. The meetings are structured around what dealers want to hear and what they need to learn.
This year’s American Co-OP meeting was hosted by Vincent Puente of Southwest Office Systems in Fort Worth. Vince has been a Sharp dealer since 1975. He and his brother Buddy have built a sustainable business model that has withstood many challenges and succeeded.
As with all these groups, they ask that we do not share with our audience what was discussed during the meeting. Because of this we are limited in what we can say. What we can say is that this year we have presented at CDA, SDG, BTA, ICDA, and American Co-OP. At every one of those meetings CJ and I learned something of value.
The presentations delivered by us and others at these meetings are of common interest to all dealers attending. In some cases, they agreed, others disagreed about the information shared. The important thing to consider is there is an opportunity to learn from each other. The sharing of best business practices is undeniably the most professional exercise any entrepreneur can engage in.
This was an exceptional meeting in that our hosts invited us to their home for a Texas cookout, with a first-class chef doing the grilling and making all the sides as well as appetizers. Vince and the lovely Mrs. Mona Puente also hired a band and it was an enjoyable evening.
We also enjoyed presenting our Access Japan presentation for the sixth time. The dealers responded in a gracious manner and we were pleased to hear they valued what we had to share.
We were also happy to see Mike Marusic president & CEO Sharp Imaging & Information Company delivering a presentation on Sharp’s Smart Office. If you’re a Sharp dealer you missed something very special and another example of why these dealer group meetings are so valuable.
Allow me to be blunt, any dealer who does not elect to join any of these groups solely because they do not want to share company secrets is harboring an illusion. As someone who has been working with dealers for 46 years, we speak from experience. No dealer that I know of is that unique within the framework of an annuity business. There are certainly wide differences, but not because what each dealer is doing is so different. Those that are doing well are doing so because of how well they execute.
I am reminded of a story about the famous football coach, Paul Brown, the co-founder and first coach of the Cleveland Browns. He introduced the concept of calling in the plays to the quarterback. The reporters and so-called experts were aghast. “How can you take away the options of changing the play at the line by the quarterback,” they opined. “Given the quarterback’s lack of flexibility, are you not giving an advantage to the defense?”
Brown’s answer was the textbook definition of how to be the best at whatever it is you do. “I do not care if every player on the defense knows what we have called. If everyone on our team carries out their assignment, we will succeed.”
My point is simple, dealers should want to hear how their brethren perform in certain situations. At the same time, these meetings allow dealers to share what they are doing that has worked well for them. Together, dealers sharing best practices can understand the many ways there are to address a problem. One can also receive confirmation that the approach one is taking is consistent with what other industry participants are doing.
Aside from that, there is a simple brotherhood that exists for these dealers. Many are quick to reach out to fellow members who may be in need through no fault of their own. A dealer may have experienced a tragedy or had his business impacted by a flood, tornado or hurricane. I know dealers, belonging to one group or another who reached out to a fellow dealer in trouble and said, “I know you don’t have equipment, supplies and, parts because of what you just experienced. I will load up a trailer and have it on its way as soon as you tell me it is OK to ship to wherever you can accept delivery.”
You cannot buy that kind of camaraderie or insurance policy. That is just one small way how these independent dealer organizations help each other. They remind me of the veterans I know, and it is always about helping a fellow warrior.
We want to thank American Co-OP for the invitation and the opportunity to break bread with a very fine group of independent dealers.
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