Industry Events

2008 SYNERGY SESSIONS New Orleans – Review by Brian Tucker


Monday, May 12, 2008, I departed for New Orleans to get my fix of DGI, I canceled the Google alert after Jeff Kershner filled me in, thanks Alex for hours of endless search trying to figure that one out!

This would be my first trip to New Orleans and my first attendance to an event of this magnitude. My endless e-mails to Jeff and Sean V. Bradley begging to go finally paid off in a big way! The W Hotel was a great location for the event, and I really dug the contemporary décor of my room. I had Jeff convinced that Sean reserved me a Penthouse Suite on the top floor. All joking aside, Sean, AutoSuccess Magazine, DealerRefresh and Dealer Synergy went above and beyond putting this together for me. Sean, I will be reporting back to you as I build my library of videos with my new Flip Video Camera and utilize some of the tips you presented on Video Search Engine Optimization (No worries — I will keep the end result in mind).

There was so much info presented at this event — I took close to 20 pages of notes — I will have a hard time recapping everything that I found useful in this post, but as Deverl from Franklin Covey put it, I’ll try to give you a drink of water from a fire hose.

One of the speakers from the first day that I thought brought their “A” game would include the people from, I thought that Dean Evans and Mike DeCecco put together a classy presentation that touched on many thought-provoking topics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) defined within the guidelines of Google Webmaster, content organization, used-car brochures and robust sitemaps.

Sean Bradley and his presentation on Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) rocked! I’ll touch on one of the most impressive stats he brought to our attention: Online video reached an astronomical number in March, to the tune of 11.5 billion videos viewed in the U.S.! It’s not the next big thing — it’s already a very big thing!

The tricky part is coming up with content that will have the viral effect, such as those Badger commercials we have all come to love. I have some video ideas I have been kicking around and I’m very excited to get them into production — thanks for the tips, Sean!

Ken Potter from CarsDirect had a unique style to his presentation — laid back but very informative. One of the points he made, and I am guilty of it myself, is that we are in an industry of copycats (I sometimes refer to myself as the “The King of Copy and Paste”). I liked his suggestion to include a search bar on your homepage to track what is relevant to your customers. I also liked his suggestion to become a servant to your customers and employees, and finding out why your customers did not buy from you via e-mail was a point well-taken by me — I plan on getting that e-mail together very soon.

I will let Kershner comment on the VIP party at the House of Blues, as someone spiked my tonic water with Grey Goose. I will tell you that the party was off the hook and no expense was spared! The Hummer Limo at our beck and call was a nice touch.

The second day at Synergy Sessions was even more impressive then the first day, with high-energy speakers clearing the fog in my head rather quickly (was it the jet lag or the spiked drinks?).

Howard Polirer from spoke on bridging the gap with Internet customers and brought up so many relevant topics that I found so useful I could write five pages on his presentation. I will just recommend catching this presentation at the next Synergy Session.

DeVerl Austin from Franklin Covey presented “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and did a great job breaking down the process using the formula in the book. I have found this very helpful as I read through the book; needless to say DeVerl is a true professional and a great presenter.

Sean Bradley spun his version of the process, implementing a plan for building a rock-solid Internet Department using the core fundamentals found in the Covey book. I am currently building my action plan for my dealership based on the info that Sean presented.

The last presenter that I really got to interact with the second day because of work commitments was Mark Dubis from Carfolks. Mark had a very compelling presentation, spun off some of the recent hiccups we have seen lately with dealers managing their online reputations. I have spent many hours myself on Google trying to make sure we address those stealth posts that can silently damage sales. We as auto industry professionals must realize that customer concerns must be addressed at quantum speeds – not in days or hours. The old adage about disgruntled customers telling 10 people has been magnified to the beat of about 1 million views on the last PR disaster that I followed involving a dealership and one upset customer. Looks like we will all need to step it up on the customer satisfaction side of things and make sure we are in tune with what is being posted about our dealerships.

In closing, I would just like to thank everyone for the knowledge I gained from the two days in New Orleans, and I apologize in advance for not naming everyone that contributed to my successful trip.

Guest Posting by: Brian Tucker
Internet Sales Director for Swope Toyota

  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 21, 2008
Nice post Brian. Thanks for your comments and feed back on the Synergy Session. It was great meeting you and all the others that I was able to meet and spend some time with!

The House Of Blues VIP party was indeed very entertaining. A little on the loud side but none the less great fun.

It was nice session and one that you should attend if given the opportunity.

Thank you very much for the Post. On behalf of Dealer Synergy, Synergy Sessions and AutoSuccess Magazine it was a pleasure having you and we are so very glad you had a great time.

The whole reason why we created this contest on Dealer Refresh was that we wanted to get as much feedback as we could from people on the front lines about what they wanted. And we had some great comments on this BLOG as well as from everyone that attended from the dealers, managers, speakers, exhibitors... everyone. We realize that there are so many things to do and conventions to attend. We want to provide a serious value to our attendees as well as create a great environment for them to have fun and meet others and create "Synergy".

I had so much fun there myself meeting all of the dealers and managers. We had dealers that came from over 18 different states to attend our Synergy Session in New Orleans!

I enjoy learning as much as I do teaching. So for me to see the awesome line up of speakers and educators was great.

I received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about the Franklin Covey presentation. For several reasons... First, its not the SAME recycled information or speaker that is at EVERY event :) This is the first time Franklin Covey has ever done anything like this in the Automotive industry. They other reason is that the information that DeVerl delivered was powerful, important and useful. It was truly and honor for me to be able to do a joint presentation with the Franklin Covey Organization. What is so funny is that I speak in front of large crowds of hundreds and hundreds of people, 20 group after 20 group... blah blah blah... but, I was nervous going after DeVerl. He is ONLY the #1 International trainer for the Franklin covey Organization and I had to give an hour presentation of my interpretation of the 7 habits of highly effective people for the automotive industry as it relates to Internet Sales departments :) But, I had fun doing it!

Great speakers, Great presentations, Great information, great Attendees!

The VIP party was off the hook! We had several limos on call for the night... Yes, one was a Hummer! I heard several times that night that the VIP Party was NADA caliber. We did NOT spare any expense as Brian mentioned before. We really wanted EVERYONE to have fun. The Band was truly amazing! They were this Creole, New Orleans Band... They had this guy that had a metal grate on his chest and he was playing it with, I think a spoon or something. He was truly off the hook! And Jeff Kershner says it was a little too loud? Jeff, Are you getting too old? Who are you kidding? I have seen your MySpace page :)

But, There was an after Party to the VIP party from the house of blues... There was about 15 or so "Troopers" from several different dealerships that jumped into one of the limos with me and my Fiancé... we headed to Bourbon Street of course. After having some fun... We headed back to the house of blues and I treated everyone to a Hard Rock Concert. A Band Called Super Suckers played and killed it. I had to turn in a little early but the group stayed and had a great night. I am proud to say EVERYONE made it (almost) on time the next morning for day 2 of the Synergy Sessions.

I know, I just spent a lot of time talking about having fun and VIP parties... I figured Brian gave you all the run down on the instructional design of Synergy Sessions. I wanted to give you the behind the scenes perspective :)

As far as the Video Production. Kaizen sent out a serious, mobile video production team to archive the entire event including the VIP party, all of the speakers and presentations PLUS a TON of Video Testimonials... It is going to take a couple of weeks to edit the OVER 40 hours of finished Video Content.

We will be releasing, teaser, testimonials and montages shortly.

We have decided to NOT do another Synergy Session until March 2009. It will be held in Atlantic City New Jersey. We want to take our time and really plan this event to even greater depths of perfection...

We are REALLY, REALLY going to try to blow everyone away with this event. So we are going to spend the next 2-3 months just getting the right mix of speakers, information, instruction design straight and then we have to outdo this last off the hook VIP party!! And we have gotten some great ideas for additional wow factors. So stay tuned on information for Synergy Sessions 2009.
If you have any questions, ideas, about the 2009 Synergy Sessions in Atlantic City, Please feel free to Contact me. I would LOVE to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Thank you again to everyone that was apart of the 2008 Synergy Sessions. And for those that missed out... I am truly sorry. But no worries the AC event will be here before you know it!


oh....and one other thing........never ever forget to ask for the Sale!
Who knows you might win a trip to New Orleans :)
Brian, thank you for the very kind words on our presentation. We're glad you enjoyed and we're looking forward to more synergy fun! - Mike DeCecco
You and Dean deserved it, you could tell you all put quite a bit of time and effort into the presentation. Has Matt been contacted by any music agents yet?
  • C
    Chris K
  • May 21, 2008
I was hoping to find a thread where we can get past semantics, social networking, beyond computers and vendors and talk about what really sells cars .. like actual email verbiage, follow up techniques, phone conversations and messages, tie ins... but I don't think this site appears to really focus on the really important stuff - to me at least.

I want to get past the advertisements folks....
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 21, 2008
Chris, thanks for your comments. You are right...we need to get back on track with some real issues. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I never want DR to turn into some billboard for the vendors. The Advertisements are bad enough.

Keep in mind though...there's 3 years of content to click through on

I posted "4 Letters That Will Sell You More Cars This Month" less then 2 weeks ago. Then on April 24th Alex posted "To Micro-site or not to Micro-site?" which brought on some meaty conversation.

Earlier in March Shaun Raines posted "What do consumers really want in a car buying experience?" which bought out 43 comments. There are a few posting in between those that I think would count as great topics of conversation.

So yes, I hear what you are saying, but please don't limit yourself to Page #1 of DealerRefresh. There is a ton of information in the archives.

Chris, I do invite you to write a guest posting and talk about any subject that excites you on "what really sells cars". I hope to hear from you. Give me a call anytime at 240-217-1740

Thanks Chris.
Chris K,

Jeff is correct in saying there is alot of valuable information within DR. DR has consistently been a leader in the exchange of ideas for years. We advertisers sure don't want to muck it up for you.


I am a little surprised to see your comment "the advertisements are bad enough". For advertising is the ebodiment of capitalism and capitalism is fundemantal to our entire economy.

For if you bad mouth capitalism, isn't this an indictment of our entire system in general? I put it to you, Jeff, isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?

Well, say what you want to say, but I'm not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. :)

No really, your site is not a bill board for advertising and never has been. It provides a great forum for ideas and I'm sure the little bit of ads you have help to pay some of the overhead. Also, I normally sit on the sidelines because I am an advertiser but I had to comment here. Hope you enjoyed my Animal House rendition.

By the way, Jim said he had a great time in New Orleans. Keep up the good work on the site! We do appreciate it!

  • H
  • May 22, 2008
Jeff, look who's calling car salepeople "typical sleazy"?

Look in the mirror!
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 22, 2008
Richard thanks for your comments and support. I was wondering where you were going with that. You're right maybe I shouldn't had phrased it that way. I'm always trying to think about it from the readers perspective though. Gotta love Animal House!

Henry...thanks for your comment as well. I'll try to take my sleazyness down a few levels.

Maybe I'm running on too little sleep or maybe I had too much wine at dinner, but I'm scratching my head on some of the recent comments in this thread.

Chris K - there is so much stuff on Dealer Refresh for you to use. Things are listed categorically and chronologically. Typepad (the blogging engine this site is hosted on) got rid of their search function, which sucks, but you can still use Google to search any site. Here's an invaluable resource: Google "How to use Google" and learn how to really find what you're looking for.

Henry - I'm dumbfounded. I can't believe you'd call Jeff sleazy and you haven't even been out drinking with him! :)
The Synergy Sessions was a great time, but it was more than that. There was so much useful information it could have been 3 or 4 days but I think at 2 days it was a little packed because of all the great speakers they had.

I think the expertise of these speakers and the ideas I was able to bring back to my dealership will help me make a real positive impact on my deparment in a very short time.

It was also very nice to meet many other professionals and get their first hand opinions on the trials they go through at the dealership level. Thanks for your insight!!!

Great Event all around, I am looking forward to the next one.


Probably too much wine...

I've heard things :)