First Day Education Session Recap | 2020 Financial/HR Symposium

Keynote Presentation: Leadership Lessons from Hollywood with Andy Masters

The first day of AED’s Financial HR Symposium in Las Vegas kicked off with a keynote presentation from Andy Masters. Masters provided statistics of employee desires from younger generations and its significance as new generations move up in the workplace. His presentation focused on teaching and helping new employees grow and how this can be beneficial for the employee and the organization as a whole. Masters continued to stress that developing new employees is essential for a business to flourish throughout his session, noting the troubles of having employees stay at an organization without the guidance they need to succeed.

Financial Session 1: Innovation and Balance Sheet Management, The CFO Tug of War with Dick Stewart

Dick Stewart’s first financial session of the day focused on innovation and balance sheet management, with the key focus being on a CFO’s struggle for managing innovation against financial stability. Stewart detailed how to think about innovation and assess adaption candidates for innovation. On the financial side, Stewart referenced the importance of balancing capacity with capability in an organization to promote growth. He explained the Altman Z score and how to assess enterprise health, provide examples of dealer trends, and apply the equation to the average AED member. With the strategies that Stewart provided, he aimed to help CFO’s tackle the challenge of managing both new and innovative practices while maintaining financial stability in the company.

HR Session 1: Humor in the Workplace: Not Just How, but Why! with Andy Masters

Andy Masters’ second session of the day focused on why humor is an essential part of a work environment. Masters took examples from research studies done by universities that showed that humor aligns with creativity and intelligence. Masters focused on humor, but employee satisfaction is an important factor in developing a positive and productive work environment. This session provided evidence for the fact that happy employees lead to more satisfied customers. While he stressed the importance of employee satisfaction, Masters also acknowledged the challenges of implementing humor while maintaining a professional and respectful work environment. To combat this, Masters provided attendees with examples of incorporating humor into the organization in an HR-friendly way.

Financial Session 2: Benchmarking Rental for Performance Management with Dick Stewart

In Stewart’s second financial session of the day, the topic was benchmarking rentals for performance support. Stewart began by explaining benchmarking in-depth, providing insight on both the benefits and drawbacks of this practice. Afterward, he offered graphs to the audience that demonstrated the revenue trends within the industry. Stewart continued by covering the different rental business practices, success factors and new emerging management roles in the rental industry. Stewart then transitioned into financial operations comparisons between rent-to-rent and rent-to-sell dealerships. He wrapped up his second session of the day with recommendations for dealers, including a cyclical graph to help utilize benchmarking effectively, and offered advice on where to turn for more information. Stewart recommended AED’s Rental Report Bundle, which can be purchased here.

HR Session 2: Succession Planning with Jill Berg

Jill Berg’s first session at the Symposium discussed how to identify potential in candidates and employees. She focused on the responsibilities and qualities that help managers succeed in the workplace, describing self-awareness as a sought-after quality. She further detailed how a manager’s job is not only to lead but also to help develop the skills of their employees and the importance of building a quality team. Berg continued by discussing both effective and ineffective methods of identifying potential in employees and candidates. This session stressed that success at all levels in an organization is key for overall growth.

To view the manager’s guide to high potential, please click here.

Shared Session: COVID, Employment Law, and It’s Effect on Your Bottom Line with Michael Airdo

Michael Airdo’s session covered policies and procedures surrounding COVID-19 and how it affects the workplace, providing input on how to effectively and legally handle the pandemic within a business. Referencing the pandemic’s effect on the unemployment rate, Airdo warned audience members of a slow recovery of this rate due to the ongoing pandemic. Airdo mentioned the importance of preparing for the unknown in legal contracts to protect businesses, advising attendees to review wording in contracts as the pandemic situation continues. He further suggested that companies reviewed their current insurance policies and noted that they might not cover COVID-19 losses, for which he told new or additional coverage. Airdo discussed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act in regards to COVID-19 during this session. He completed the session by advising attendees to stay current with the CDC, OSHA and professional associations like AED and to utilize the Legal Call Counsel program if needed as it is a membership benefit.

Financial Session 3: All-You-Can-Eat Tax Buffet with Daniel Fisher and Marc Johnson

This session was a discussion with Marc Johnson, CPA CGMA and principal at KCOE Isom, and AED’s vice president of government affairs, Daniel Fisher. Johnson began the discussion by providing the audience with updates on the CARES Act and PPP. Johnson suggested that members get their applications completed for PPP Forgiveness and then wait as Congress has not passed Tax Deductibility clarifications. Johnson continued by providing updates on both Family First as well as expiring tax provisions. Fisher then began to discuss the elections, suggested that if Democrats take the lead, there will likely be COVID-19 relief package extensions if not after the Lame Duck session, then next Congress. Fisher noted that regardless of the election outcome, we will probably see investment in infrastructure.

HR Session 3: Hippies to Hipsters – Communicating Across Generations with Jesyca Hope  

Jesyca Hope’s first HR session was dedicated to finding common ground and understanding among the many different generations in the workforce today. This session provided attendees with a background on each generation, going into depth on their strengths and weaknesses and core values. Hope acknowledged that while generations have their differences, it is vital to prevent communication problems from emerging. She gave an example of a seventh-grade student’s report card results with grades varying from A’s to C’s. After providing this example, she asked if the audience was more excited by the A’s on the report card or concerned with the C’s. Hope pointed out that we all tend to concern ourselves more with areas of weakness. She related this to the generational discussion, noting that it is important to acknowledge differences, but just as important to not focus on them. Hope’s key suggestions regarding this topic included avoiding judgments, focusing on quality and not quantity and encouraging ideas from all.

Financial Session 4: Keys to Effective Communication with Jill Berg 

Jill Berg began her second session of the day, this time a finance session, by explaining the two crucial communication elements, which include listening skills and asking questions. In her presentation, she expressed to the audience that with proper listening skills, we are able to follow up with questions that allow us to better understand the person we are communicating with. Continuing her session, Berg noted the importance of seemingly smaller aspects of communication that significantly impact how the listener processes the information, including body language and tone of voice. She focused on the impact of the “3 V’s” of communication: verbal, vocal and visual, emphasizing that nonverbal communication plays a much bigger part in communicating than many people realize. Berg also mentioned effective communication methods when nonverbal communication is not possible, such as over email and the phone. The session finished with tactics to help attendees de-escalate negative communication to build a better relationship and overall workplace environment.

To view the skills assessment, please click here.

HR Session 4: Roundtable discussion with Jesyca Hope

The final HR session on Tuesday was a roundtable discussion on various topics related to the industry. Topics included COVID-19, diversity and inclusion, HR and technology, recruiting, engagement and retention and compensation and benefits. While this session had the purpose of connecting with others on these topics, Hope helped spark discussion with sample questions on each topic to get the conversation going. AED’s roundtable discussions offer a meaningful way to connect with peers on current events and challenges that dealerships may be facing. Collaboration at these roundtable discussions is an excellent way for members to network with others and gain new insight from others.


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