20 groups on the rebound?

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When it comes to managerial training — ratio analysis, business and marketing plans, strategic planning — 20 groups have long been the industry standard. But they come with a hefty monthly bill that some retailers have recently chosen to forgo. Now they may be having second thoughts, according to the Mike Brunken, general manager of Gart Sutton & Associates (www.gartsutton.com). “We’re hearing through our current dealers that a lot of former members are contacting them to see if they can get back in their old groups,” he says. “We’ve had three enrollments in the last couple of months, and we think we’re going to get a lot more coming back at the beginning of the year.”

GSA moderates six metric 20 clubs and one for Harley dealers. It has more than 140 dealer clients, but many aren’t club members and only report numbers.

This may seem like a modest number for the industry’s largest 20 group organizer. Just two years ago, RPM Group was claiming more than 300 members. After owning the group for a year, Assurant Solutions sold the business to GSA in May 2009. Roughly 80 of the 300 were Ducati dealers whose fees were paid for by the OEM, which decided to disband the groups after the sale. “That was half of the dealers that quit,” says Brunken, who believes the bad economy claimed the others.

Ed Lemco, founder in 1980 of the company that would become RPM Group, decided to restart his groups (www.lemco.com) with daughter Laura Lemco. He now moderates one 20 group with 15 Harley-­Davidson dealers, five of which he’s partnered with. Laura moderates a metric group and a Harley group. Besides monthly composites, Lemco tracks dealer departments, the managers of which share numbers daily. The resultant reports are sent out twice per month.

Other 20 group providers mentioned by Top 100 dealers include Spader Business Management (www.spader.com) and Power­House Dealer Services (www.phdservices.com), the second of which is Dealernews’ partner for “The Lab” project (page 10). Some manufacturers like Harley-Davidson host their own.

In addition, some of these companies offer in-store training, like GSA’s three-day “accelerated assessment and action planning session.” The company also provides tailored on-site training for management, sales, F&I, P&A and DMS support.

Several Top 100 dealers use DVDs and manuals once produced by the RPM Group for sales, P&A and service. Unfortunately, these materials are no longer available.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews November 2010 issue.