Industry Events

WIN a free trip to the 2008 Synergy Sessions in New Orleans!


Sean V. Bradley at Dealer Synergy has put together an impressive deal for ALL DealerRefresh readers! Please take advantage of this very generous offer. THANKS SEAN!!

I (Sean V. Bradley) want to invite EVERYONE to this year’s absolute best conference…2008 Synergy Sessions in New Orleans!

It is brought to you by Dealer Synergy, AutoSuccess Magazine and Mark Dubis. This is the 3rd annual event. It is going to be off the hook!! We have worked incredibly hard to make this better than anything you have ever seen before. We got the best of the best in the industry… experts and dealers. We cut the prices completely to the bottom. ONLY $295 with a DealerRefresh discount code DR0508. We have included breakfast, lunch for two days PLUS a VIP PARTY at the famous House of Blues…food, drinks and AWESOME live entertainment.

We are NOT trying to make a big profit into this event. We are looking to create the most powerful brand out there for workshops / conferences. There are a lot of companies working very hard to give you all the absolute best in class event and not charge you very much for it.

Here is the hook…I want your help…WE NEED your help. To make this the absolute best, we are going to need your feedback as to what your wants, wishes and expectations are.

  • What would make the ultimate workshop?
  • Where would be the best location?
  • What types of subjects?
  • What other speakers or experts would you like to heard from?
  • What kind of give a ways?
  • What kind of materials?
  • Networking?
  • Entertainment?
  • Breakout sessions?
  • Exercises?
  • What is fair pricing?

We want to hear from you.

*RESPOND TO THE POSTING WITH YOUR IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS AND YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ENTERED INTO THE "DEALERREFRESH" DRAWING and we will pick the winner on April 15th. Dealer Synergy and AutoSuccess Magazine will give an ALL INCLUSIVE VIP TRIP to the 2008 Synergy Sessions in New Orleans.

Package includes:

  1. Flight
  2. Hotel
  3. Registration
  4. Meals
  5. Limo (for VIP Party)
  6. Free Digital Video Flip Camera
  7. Rockstart Status!

Approximate value is $2,000… not bad for sharing some feedback!

Thanks a lot, Sean V. Bradley-

Click here for more information and to register for the event.


Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.

IMO, A workshop format I would be interested in participating in, is one that simply takes an inventory of the dealership current initiatives, works to fill in the gaps and identifies any new opportunities and/or processes based on the type of store, region and market.

As for speakers, I think everyone would appreciate a fresh face - someone who isn't going to simply preach "Get more pictures online, add your prices and respond quickly to online leads."

If I'm going to a workshop, I'd like to hear & share some new cutting edge ideas, unlike the 'advice' floating around the 'Net on every other car dealer blog. (except Jeff's, of course)

Someone like Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Gitomer, or Dale Pollack could share some much needed new perspectives. A giveaway that included their books and/or a private lunch meeting with any of these people would be a welcome change. I have more than enough purple pens. (thx DR.)

Cutting edge IT solutions, creative customer service, advanced online/SN strategies & BDC operations management are a few of the discussions I'd like to participate in as well.

Networking/Brainstorming sessions would be helpful; I'd like to hear what isn't working & build on those that are...if the event is in N.O. I'm sure entertainment won't be an issue.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

[As luck would have it, my 'Rock Star' schedule is open for any events located in New Orleans this year.]


Thanks for putting this together!

I'd like to see brainstorming sessions like Eric mentioned. If you could get people from the dealer-side and the vendor-side grouped together discussing a certain genre of product: CRM, Inventory control, Site Hosting, etc, I think you could have some very strong spin-off for both dealers and vendors. I'd also like to see more dealers speaking. Is there anyway you can get Seth Godin on the speakers list?

Other than that, I think Eric did an excellent job in covering everything.
Wow, great ideas to enhance the event. Maybe we could explore an "ad-hoc" brainstorming session for early arrival folks on Monday evening. It could be moderated but casual enough that we can get real creative and talk about where things are moving to next and how we can get a jump on things.

Getting a speaker like Guy Kawaski, Seth Godin or Jeff Gitomer are very expensive. Also we looked into getting Seth Godin but with a speaking fee of $50,000 he is a bit over the budget we have for this event.

If you want to see a great Guy Kawasaki presentation here is a link. He is very impressive.

All the best.
I've got the guy for you then...Jay Sherman is the perfect spokesperson.

Jay is a solid industry speaker - w/a ton of experience in every facet of dealership operations. AutoTrader, Sonic, Cobalt and even NADA have all brought Jay in for their speaking engagements.

[email protected] if you're interested...


  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • March 19, 2008
Anyone else going to participate in this opportunity?

Hello ISM's ???

"Also we looked into getting Seth Godin but with a speaking fee of $50,000 he is a bit over the budget we have for this event."

Having Seth Godin speak would be tremendous. I had thought about this as well. Maybe NADA could afford the 50K.
Let's see if this is what ya'll are fishing for...

workshop themes.

workshop #1). Give yourself a raise...
...and help your GM move some old iron. Become an in-house google adwords guru and execute ad campaigns in a NY minute! Save the commissions paid to an outside AdWords vendor and use the savings as the basis for a raise! (sorry about that Mark B.)

#2). What's all this blogging about and WIFM*?
Learn to set up your 1st blog in 10 minutes. Bring your digital camera and in 30 minutes you'll have your very first entry with photos! (bring your laptop and you wont have to wit your turn ;-)

What goes in YOUR blog?
--Pics and comments from your happy customers.
--A special tradein that has a good story.
--A day trip that you and your family took.
--COUPONS that from your customers that own a biz (and want free promotion).
--Pics of your dog (or anything you got that's warm and fuzzy ;-).
--Any Demos that the store has avail for sale

You ask, "WIFM"*?
As you add and add layers of honest info, then GOOGLE visits your site, puts the puzzle together that sees that you're a legit auto based site and your blog will RANK very well for search terms in YOUR MARKET.

Car shoppers use gooooogle and enter in product, location. Very common phrases are "used ford SUV near denver co" or "low price gm certified dealer in NY" or "used cadillac CTS dealer in dallas tx".

Everything helps.
Testimonials, demos, walk arounds on a trade in, info on a day trip all hit that magical "product, location" string that goooogle so dearly likes.

Hope this helps,

*WIFM = Whats In it For Me?
How about someone like Avinash Kaushik or Dale Pollak?
  • R
    Richard Klepach
  • March 20, 2008
All the ideas that I have read seem to be great ideas for an Ultimate Workshop. I know vendors need to be there to talk about new ideas and new things that they say are working for some particular dealerships. How about gatering a handfull of dealers from different areas of the country and have some sort of "20 Group" where they can share some of their ideas and knowledge with the venders as to what is working and what is not working. Let's hear and learn from the actual people on the front lines that sell the cars, parts and service. Instead of hearing a lot from different vendors that sell the products and services they have to offer to help us sell more cars, how about some actual testimony from dealers that use their products and service and share their success stories, etc.

I'm not sure but I think this is what Alex is talking about in his posting.
  • L
  • March 20, 2008
As I have been keeping up with Sean and Dealer Synergy through the various articles and advertisements seen in different magazines, I would love to know more about VSEO. It is a very progressive concept.

Website development to increase organic leads would be a must-have discussion topic.

It would be nice to experience an objection handeling session on the main things an ISM hears: "I'll drive to the next state to save $50 bucks, etc.

As I probably won't be able to attend (unless I win...hint), is there any plans to podcast or televise the workshops in any way? It would also be a good way to review the material at a future date.



I am looking at my submission as a car deal, last dealer wins.
I am still kicking around some ideas and trying to come up with a real solution for the "Ultimate Workshop", I have to admit some of the ideas have been pretty good.
I wrote a whole piece on the 20group idea and lost it in a PCcrash. It's like Richards but has a focus. I don't have much time so I write this real quick.

CRM, the tool from Hell.
Everyone is frustrated with CRM and each CRM platform has its own issues. Speaking personally, I am a R&R user and I know that I am using only 60% of the tool. The rest of it lies around in dark places that I can't find after hours and hours of looking.

A Solution?
Well... We all know it ain't coming from the vendors!
Use DS to form CRM 20 groups. Groups are created by CRM vendor use and then into non-competing areas. The whole "healing" process lives or dies on a good and clear discussions guidelines so that the discussion has focus.

DS could inform each CRM vendor to put their best instructor/support person on a plane and have them waiting in the lobby incase the group needs help. Any intelligent CRM sales manager would also see the leverage to offer "aid and assistance" to frustrated users of competing platforms. Take that one step further, CRM vendors should pay the host to "set up shop" and pitch their wares.

As a followup, DS could provide a website for each team. Social items like names, photos, backgrounds would be the teams front page. The web platform would have a meeting calander, blog and link them into the CRM vendor group that they belong to. CRM vendors would profit from the "focus group" data stream. The web platform should support webx Meetings and the CRM vendors should gladly sponsor that expense (or their competitor will). CRM vendors best customer service reps should participate to keep the dialogue going.

--Day to Day use
--Is your Daily Work Plan filled with junk?
--Understanding the admin side (aka contact schedules from hell)
--Create a campaign quickly (aka Data Farming)
--Pimp my CRM emails and letters.

DS profits because they stay center stage trying to create a solution to an industry wide problem via social networking. It's almost web 2.0.

Hope this helps,
quick thought:
CRM vendors should make a screen recording video showing us how to quickly execute a task.

Quick Examples:
--Add a new rep
--Remove a rep
--Add a new manager
--Import a new reps client list
--Give an employee authority to "see" other employees info (i.e. assist FI mngr)
--Create then Track a campaign
and on and on and on...

A message board would work best, video at the top, a string of comments would follow. What a great feedback mechanism for CRM vendors!

Add to that a place where users can request a "task video" from the CRM Vendor. If the vendor does not support the group, then give the group the tools to do it themselves (and hopefully a leader will step in!)

If I was shopping for a CRM, I would use this community platform to do research.

If I am a CRM vendor that has many weaknesses (they all do) and I have no intention of spending $$$ to improve it, I HATE VISIBILITY & I HATE THIS IDEA.

dare to dream...
I normally just read here, but a friend of mine emailed me a link today to a site that he thought i should share with everybody i know.

i'm not as worried about it as he is, but i can see how the internet is continuing to change the way we all sell cars.

the site is - i personally think the more people who see my dealerships name, the better off i am. he disagrees. i'm just concerned about inaccurate info
Thanks everyone for giving us your suggestions. We have already created an outline but are adding to it. Every time we get awesome ideas like from you all.

Here is a quick update...

I have just added a speaker named Danny Alkassmi. Danny has a company called RBI ( What is amazing for me about Danny Alkassmi is that he was the very first Internet training class I ever attended. He had a program called I-Net and was on tour for AutoByTel almost 9 years ago. Anyway, Danny and I have stayed in touch over the years and we recently got together and decided it would be a great opportunity to work together. Danny is going to bridge the Internet conversation with the Showroom. Not only is Danny an expert in Internet sales but he is also and expert for showroom, GSM, GM and Dealer Principal training. (Among other amazing accomplishments is a former Dealer Principal). Danny is going to be speaking on Showroom sales... After you get your Internet prospect into the showroom etc...

My goal is to have a really diverse program. We have some of the traditional experts from the major companies but I am proud to say there are some truly first ever presenters in an event like this such as:

* Franklin Covey
* Danny Alkassmi (RBI Pro)
* Royal Administration

** We will have a dealer panel with some of the top Online dealers in the US...As well as Jeff Kershner :)

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday and thank you again for your suggestions, please keep them coming!

One last thing... If we were to give away prizes there, what would you all like?

Here is where we are at so far:

* Autographed copy of the 7 habits of highly effective people by Dr. Stephen Covey!
* Video Flip Cameras
* IPod Touches

What else would be fun or cool or useful?

I look forward to hearing your ideas-

Location of these events is everything and New Orleans is a great. Other locations that I have seen good turn-out are: Las Vegas (everyone wants to go to Vegas and airfare is cheap), Dallas (central location for all and good night life), Miami (beach and parties, what more could you want).

Here are some other emerging topics in the auto industry:
- Trends with internet marketing in auto industry

- Emerging technologies in marketing and selling online

- Define online marketing

- What is a conversion?

- What is a landing page? What is targeted content?

- What is PPC? Should I do Google, Yahoo, MSN, or all?

- Do you have a press kit? What can a press kit do for me? Free publicity.

- Does your dealership or dealership group have a non-profit foundation?

- eBay Motors, more than just an auction site. What is eBay Motors Local Market? How can I get eBay Motors to work? Why do I need an eBay Store?

- How much is presentation worth? (pictures, descriptions, layouts, etc)

- Define web properties and what they mean to my dealership

- What is social media marketing?

- What does a blog have to do with my dealership?

- Why is a YouTube channel good for my dealership?

- What are social networks for car buyers (,, AskPatty, MyDealerReport)?

- Why do online press releases?

- Co-branded press releases with vendors and/or partners

- Why do I need lots of dealership photos online (flickr, snapfish, ofoto)?

- Social Networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, female specific websites)

- Community Portals (, 360 corridor)

-Standardizing email footers across the dealership

- Standardizing voicemail greetings across the dealership

- Old School vs. New School – Defining the lifecycle for a successful internet department

- Shaping the future of car shopping: completing a car transaction online

- Comparison pricing and comparison shopping

Sean -

Any of the books Jeff has on this site would be nice give-aways - or just a Barnes & Noble Gift card to pick out your fav.

Chad's list rocks too; I'm always interested in hearing/sharing best practices - I've hit just about every item on his list as well...always tweaking & looking for improvement.

Hearing just one new item that could spark an entire new wave of activity is worth it for me...
  • L
  • March 25, 2008
Trying to see if my schedule will allow me to attend. The topics offered seem to be exactly what is needed in our industry. Since there seems to be a wave of popularity for video and it's uses, would the sessions be taped and available via podcast or youtube?

As the "unofficial" Internet Sales Director of my store (one of several hats), I wish to extend thanks to Jeff for maintaining this site. The information gained has been very useful and I enjoy visiting.

Link Robertson

  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • March 31, 2008
Anyone else? Comeon...don't get discouraged. Share your feedback, you never know. This is a great opportunity to get to a conference for FREE! Take Sean up on his offer and share your ideas!!

  • L
    Lindsey Roder
  • April 8, 2008

I'd like to see a workshop on email marketing and how dealers are effectively using email to market to their sales and service customers.

I have yet to find a tool, CRM or otherwise, that seamlessly integrates email marketing into the current customer database. At least, there are no tools in the automotive industry that I have found that can track open rates, unsubscribes, delivery rates, click throughs, AND fully manage your permission based marketing AND also integrate with CRM and DMS. I would love to hear what everyone else is doing with this. Right now, I have several different software programs - CRM to manage customers, email marketing tools to track open rates, subscribes and clickthroughs, and HTML editors to create the emails.

Strategies for increasing email open rates, sending valuable content that increases conversion and the "whitelisting" debate - i.e. vendors guaranteeing they are "whitelisted" with the ISPs.

I also am always interested in the SEO and SEM discussion and the debate between doing it yourself on adwords and hiring a consultant to buy the keywords and manage your account for you. And is it worth the cost to build landing pages and microsites than to just send Google CPC ads right to your own website or homepage.

Also, what about the future of marketing- designing our websites and emails on mobile platform for iphones and blackberries? Anyone currently doing this?
“The Ultimate Workshop”
What would it include? Let’s think about that for a minute, I think the Ultimate Workshop would have to include a process for total dealership wide buy in. I am not talking about convincing the powers that be that we need a budget based on the revenue we generate for the dealership. (We already know that) I am talking about a buy in process from the clean up department to the owner! A buy in process that we can use to make everyone realize that to make it in lean times we need growth and we can’t rely on the business that is generated via our primary market area, we have to take it to the World Wide Web! Just as the big corporations realized in the 80’s that business had become global we have to realize that boundaries such as distance from one dealer to another dealer no longer exist, potential customers can shop hundreds of dealers in minutes without ever leaving the confines of work or home. You say “Brian, we already know that” I would counter with “does everyone from the part time clerks to the owner know your website address?” if not potential business and search engine rankings could be missed. I would invite you to think of a time someone asked you if you had a certain car for sale when you were standing in line at the grocery store after they noticed your dealership logo on your shirt, working in the side of the business that we do, we state that they can visit our dealership 24/7 @ insert url here. What would happen if they asked that same question to the part time cashier? This is just one example of why you would like to have Dealership wide buy in. This buy in process would also include building value and telling a story that spews convenience, ease of use, time savings and of course service with a smile. Wal-Mart built an empire by cutting cost and providing convenience, I would think the same could be accomplished via a strong and focused e commerce strategy that involved the entire Dealership “Team”
This workshop would include information such as the projected 17% increase in online spending in the coming year compared to the red ink that most Brick and Mortar stores will be purchasing in bulk quantities (to keep costs down ) and the unbelievable ease of internet access compared to 5 years ago. Ladies and Gentlemen a revolution is upon us and every single one of us realizes it, now it is time to assemble the troops and make sure that everyone is marching to the beat of the WWW drum!
I envision this for the title “WWW 3.0 All Your Base Are Belong To Us”
Now this is where I ask for the sale: Please pick my idea so my Dealership will have to let me go because I won it and it would be disrespectful for me not to attend plus I would love to meet all you Dealer Refresh folks in person.
Respectfully Brian

I may have scanned through the responses here too quickly, so forgive me if my suggestion is repetitive. What about a session dealing with benchmarking? In other words, how does the new ISM (or even a seasoned one) know how he/she and his/her department stacks up? What are some relevant metrics (I know it's not conversion, based on today's post!!!) by which to gauge success/progress? This came up in a couple of recent dealership visits, and I had no idea how to answer the questions.
I just want to thank everyone who has posted a comment about the upcoming event. I have also received a fair amount of phone calls from ISMs and BDC managers giving me some great ideas too. I am looking forward to Jeff Kershner picking the winner next week. Good luck to you all. We are going to have and amazing time in New Orleans!
My primary interest is process, process, process. I need to be able to put the right framework in place to build sucessful Internet Departments in our dealerships.
My primary interest is process, process, process. I need to be able to put the right framework in place to build sucessful Internet Departments in our dealerships.
My primary interest is process, process, process. I need to be able to put the right framework in place to build sucessful Internet Departments in our dealerships.
A BIG CONGRATS to Brian in Etown! You are the WINNER of the Free Trip to the 2008 Synergy Sessions in New Orleans!

Thanks everyone for their feedback and submission.

See you in New Orleans Brian.

Congratulations Brian!
thanks guys! Really looking forward to the trip! Hope to bring back some great ideas and "SYNERGY" that will help take our Dealership to the next level, maybe I will be promoted by Ralph P. from yellow Belt status as I strive to reach for that "Ninja level" in Digital marketing management :)

WOW! What a information packed couple of days! Just back from Synergy Sessions in New Orleans and I will be posting a recap of all the events in the next few days (excluding the V.I.P. party) because of the non disclosure agreement :) Great seeing everyone and putting some faces with names. Sean and Jeff were great hosts! I have also heard a rumor about some possible video footage from the V.I.P. event.....stay tuned!
Brian - I got your VM yesterday - give me a call again. I accidentally deleted your number.