Western Canadian Dealer Summit 2017

Another amazing event hosted at the Banff Springs Hotel is in the books. The Western Canadian Dealer Summit brought together dealerships from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to listen and learn from industry experts about what’s happening in the automotive industry. So what did we learn this year? Here’s our highlight reel.Western Canadian Dealer Summit was hosted at the Banff Springs hotel

Kevin Baumgart with Hireology

Kevin had some great takeaways for everyone to take back to the dealership. He spoke about how your people are your most valuable asset and having a strong employment brand should be the first area of focus when analyzing your current hiring strategy. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re trying to build up your pool of applicants:

  1. Optimize your careers page – do you talk about the company, the benefits, the role itself?
  2. Optimize your job board postings and have a social media strategy – why not get your staff
    sharing the job posting on social media?
  3. Pre-screen – put together a quick questionnaire for your candidates, if they can’t take the time
    to fill it out or if their answers don’t align with what you’re lookingfor, then there is no
    need to move forward to the interview stage.
  4. Reference check – always ask for references!

Charlie Vogelheim from TPC Management

Charlie was an energetic kickstart to Sunday afternoon after an unreal lunch at the hotel. The auto industry has been an ever changing beast for decades already and it’s just getting started. As vehicles become increasingly intelligent, it can be challenging to keep up with all the latest and greatest technologies and what all your vehicle can do. In fact, there’s even  a website to help you out with that – mycardoeswhat.com. Don’t shy away from what’s coming, the age of autonomous and connected vehicles is upon us. It won’t be a quick or easy shift, but this disruption to the industry has started with companies like Tesla, Google, Apple and Uber.

Jenn Dunstan from FlexDealer

The age old marketing conundrum: do you want it fast, good or cheap? From OEM promotions and private sales, to last minute service specials, there is always something to promote and it always needs to be done yesterday. Take a good, hard, long look at your marketing strategy and work with your marketing manager to use the time they have in-dealership more effectively.

Brent Wees from Next Up

If you haven’t watched Brent Wees from Next Up present before, put it on your to-do list. He is hands down one of the most entertaining presenters and he always comes with a powerful message. This year’s presentation was all about how marketing to Millennials is for suckers – and he meant it! “The generation doesn’t define technology, technology defines the generation“. We have to shift from focusing on ‘how do I sell to millennials‘ or ‘how do I get more millennials in the dealership‘ and ask ourselves questions like ‘how do I sell to people‘ and ‘how do I get more people in the dealership‘.

Neil Hiscox from Universus Media Group

Neil also spoke about disruption, but from a different perspective.Customers are looking for an omni-channel experience, or a seamless experience if you will. They wantto be communicated with on their terms using their preferred meanswhether it be text, phone, chat or email and they want to have a personalized experience when they make it to the dealership. In fact, 89% of customers surveyed said just that, but only 18% felt that’s what they actually received.

Gino Cozza with TD Auto Finance

Gino had an eye-opening and slightly controversial (for some) presentation on long-term financing and the potential risks associated. With OEM incentives having great offers on 84 month terms becoming more common, it tends to be what dealers are defaulting to instead of starting at 48 months. FCAC studies show that on average customers will trade out of their vehicle in the 4th year of ownership which can get them into a sticky financing situation when they flip for another vehicle with a hefty extended loan. The industry has a long way to go to turn this around, but it can start with educating your customers.

Maria Soklis from Cox Automotive

Maria continued with the theme of disruption; bringing industries like telecommunications and travel to the mix and suggesting that disruption hasn’t really hit the auto industry quite yet. In the last decade there have really only been two new players in the game. Looking at telecommunications, 5 year ago Nokia and Motorola dominated the top 5 companies, and now they are nowhere to be seen. Definitely something for the auto industry to keep in mind.

Mark Endras from TradeRev

Mark had us all thinking about the following question: what’s our Netflix moment? How is the automotive industry going adjust to that it doesn’t end up like Blockbuster? Does the answer lie in having a dealership app to be able to reach your customers and keep in constant contact with them? Perhaps. It will be interesting see to how this unfolds.

Matt Wood from the Service Group

Matt focused his presentation on how we can speed up the F&I process in the dealership. The current average transaction takes 3 hours, but the max time a customer is willing to spend in the dealership is only 90 minutes. It’s time to look at your dealerships process and how deals
are being passed from the sales person over to F&I to see where there are areas of improvement.

Farid Ahmad from Dealer Solutions

Farid had an interesting presentation on the industry trends for buying and sellingdealerships. His most important take away was to have your dealership appraised and to have any loose ends tied up before you think about selling your dealership.

Tim Lamch with Google Canada

Tim gave us an overview of the newly released Think Auto data. Overall, customers are visiting less dealerships and doing more research online ahead of time. For more Google stats and insights, check out our recap of Think Auto; and if you’re interested in attending a Think Dealer event, let us know!

Erik Radle from the Miller Ad Agency

Erik showed us some great examples of how you can brand and market your dealership culture. He focused on how habits allow humans to function at a higher level – think about which shoe you tend to put on first or your nightly bedtime routine, all of these habits are stored in our basal ganglia and seem like second nature to us. If you’re trying to insert your brand into the lives of ‘new’ people, you are essentially trying to break an existing habit they have stored and replace it with a new one and you can do that effectively with a strong dealership culture.

Dennis Galbraith Expedia Media Solutions

The conference wrapped up with a keynote from Dennis Galbraith Expedia Media Solutions. Most consumers in the Canadian market have developed their online shopping habits and standard from other industries like travel and retail. Due to this, we expect the automotive industry to keep up and change their marketing techniques to meet those standards.


We had a great time at this year’s event and Jay Radke did an amazing job – as usual – hosting. The weather was great, the hotel was as majestic as ever, and the elk even came out to say hi! As much as we love Banff, we can’t wait for it to be back in Vegas next year!An elk we spotted at the Western Canadian Dealer Summit in Banff

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