THE VALUE OF THE REGIONAL TRUCK CLUB

Why are truck clubs so important and how can they help you?

Many truck clubs have been around for decades – starting a more social groups, but over the past 10 years evolving more and more into professional associations designed to help educate and support those in the business of selling commercial vehicles.

Truck clubs are typically non-profit or not-for-profit organizations run by elected dealership and vendor volunteers. They are a great opportunity for commercial dealers to come together to meet, learn, network, and to hear from and speak with cohorts, competitors, industry vendors, and subject matter experts about commercial trucks, equipment, and the commercial industry in general. 

Members are typically charged a membership fee in exchange for benefits such as: 

·       Meetings and events

·       Industry related training

·       Opportunity to meet with and speak directly to industry experts and manufacturers

·       Network with cohorts, competitors, and industry experts

Typically, there are 3-4 gatherings, at varied locations, annually. These gatherings usually consist of a meeting, industry training, commercial vehicle training and walk-arounds, and a social activity such as golf or dinner.  The success of a truck club is directly related to the perceived value by its membership.  Dealership personnel earn their living from working, selling, and closing deals.  For this reason, it is imperative they see value in attending a truck club meeting. If the meeting content, training, and networking they receive by attending will benefit them, they will attend. If not, they will pass.    

And of course, truck club members prefer the good ole fashion face-to-face format.   

Having said that, with current restrictions on travel and the complexity of social distancing, some truck club meetings are now being conducted virtually. However, the perceived value gained from the online truck club meeting, training, and networking may be quite challenging to the more mature truck club member. Even though it is not ideal, we recommend that all FordPros jump in with both feet and work hard to leverage these virtual meetings – you will get out of technology what you put in, and it’s good practice to develop a comfort level with technology that just might not happen otherwise😊 New technology is coming down the pike all the time.

EXAMPLE REGIONAL TECHNOLOGY PILOT

Ford Pro’s who are part of multi-brand dealer group may have heard some nice things about this Pilot program in the NorthEast:

The Northeast Truck Exchange is a program that Work Truck Solutions was asked to develop which allows dealers to have a private online exchange for aged inventory; a way to feature inventory that is getting stale and driving up flooring costs.  The exchange is a dealer-only platform that is not accessible by customers, and allows dealers to list, dispose of, search and shop for units currently in stock across their region. 

Like any newly conceived digital program, this has been a massive undertaking and has evolved as Work Truck Solutions has worked with dealers through early challenges and learned what works and doesn’t for the dealers.  The private exchange platform itself is still evolving and becoming easier and more efficient for dealers and OEM field members to use and manage. 

With the unprecedented commercial inventory shortages and no sign of relief in the next 18-24 months, more than ever, dealers will need to build and maintain a solid dealer network. For this reason, it is not uncommon for dealers today to have developed their own dealer trade network in excess of 20-25 dealers over a wide geographic area, ad then rely on that network to find a number of the commercial trucks needed to meet their customer demand and to find a home for over-aged units.   Work Truck Solutions reported that last year 83% of their over 1,100 dealers used either inbound or outbound trade on their basic platform, with almost 3,500 trade requests.

Dealerships with a fulltime dealer trade manager might find that managing dealer trades and moving aged-inventory to be less difficult. However, for dealerships that don’t have a dedicated inventory management team, the task of managing dealer trades and over-aged inventory can prove to be quite daunting indeed without technology to help.   

Today dealers are looking for ways to cut expenses. A key dealership expense is floor plan costs. Dealers are looking for ways to both streamline inventory search practices and limit the amount of over-aged inventory they have on hand.  With the objective to find needed inventory while also moving aged-inventory, a private Dealer Exchange might be the ideal solution. 

Brian St. Hilaire, Field Manager
OEM Partnerships, Work Truck Solutions