One-On-One With GSA President Gart Sutton

1. Tell us about your own history in the powersports business.  

My grandfather started a Ford dealership in Los Angeles in 1921. I worked in this dealership for many years, honing my skills in sales, sales management and F&I. After I left the dealership, I was hired by Honda to design and teach the original Sales MAP (Management Action Program). I have been in the powersports industry ever since. I have been a management consultant for nearly 30 years. I have authored over a dozen industry books and spoken to thousands of dealers, manufacturers and distributors worldwide. My skill set includes facilitating, moderating, interviewing and research.

2. Tell us about the evolution of Gart Sutton & Associates.

In 1980, I founded the consulting and training firm of Gart Sutton & Associates, Inc. After my initial engagement with Honda, other powersports manufacturers approached me with various projects. Since then, we have developed training solutions for all of the major powersports manufacturers. We also do dealership on-site consulting and training engagements, conduct industry research projects, moderate multiple dealer 20-group meetings, write monthly magazine columns and design and facilitate training programs for dealers as well as manufacturers. GSA is the largest and oldest 20-club provider in the powersports industry.

3.  Why should dealers participate in 20-groups?

20-groups provide enormous benefits for dealers. It is more important than ever that dealers closely monitor the profitability of every facet of their business in order to survive. 20-group members input their dealership data into our real-time, online system so they can compare and analyze what is happening to their businesses. They have the opportunity to share and openly discuss best practices and financial information with the other members of their group. The group members become an ongoing support resource for each other. In addition, they have access to
numerous tools and job aids, educational webinars and training opportunities that other dealers don’t have available to them.

4. How did the Dealer Update program come into being?

I believe this program started in the 1980s as a series of training sessions simply called “Spring Training.” The sessions were held once a year in early spring as a tune-up for the coming season. Later, they became management training sessions called Dealer Updates. These were designed to provide training exclusively for 20-club members. We have decided to expand the program into one that will help all dealers, not just those who are currently in our groups. In doing this, we have been able to significantly reduce the cost and make it more affordable for all. Now more dealers can receive high-quality training for a very affordable price.

5. Why should dealers attend the Dealer Update sessions?

Training is always an important part of growing any business profitably. In this climate, it is critical to have the sharpest people possible operating your dealership, particularly when you have cut your staff to bare minimums. You can’t afford to have “B” and “C” players on your team. If you have people with the right attitude and aptitude, then provide them with the proper training to take it to the next level. Given the low cost of registration and the super-low rates on hotels and airfare that SEMA has negotiated, this is an exceptional opportunity to get you and your managers up to speed in time for the 2011 season.

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