How did your career path lead you to Spader?
My family had a large powersports dealership. I started working at the dealership from the time I was 14, mowing the yard and doing that type of thing. From there, I moved into different departments: the parts department, the FNI department, and eventually ended up in the accounting department. At that point, I got introduced to Spader Business Management as a client, and I would attend 20 group meetings, and that ended up being my favorite part of the job.
The end goal was to someday just run the business, and to run the business you need to learn about the entire operation. I’m a numbers person. When I got introduced to Spader and saw all of the reporting that was available and how much that could really help the business, I buried myself in it and found it fascinating. I couldn’t wait to get my numbers and compare my numbers to everybody else. It was just exciting.
My dad would tell you, and my dad’s business partner would tell you, that Spader is the reason they were so successful. They didn’t have any kind of powersports background whatsoever. By having that connection with Spader, they were able to learn the ins and outs of operating a dealership with literally no experience. They wouldn’t have made it I don’t think if it weren’t for Spader.
They ended up selling the business and I stayed on for two more years as I worked my way through grad school. I felt like I needed a change, and Spader was hiring, so I applied for the job. It was a smooth transition because being a support representative tied in very close to what I was doing at the dealership. I had that connection with our clients because I was the one working with the Spader numbers. Now I was the one helping people with their monthly numbers and answering questions.
How did your dealership experience help you relate to your clients and, eventually, transition into the facilitator role?
As you have conversations and develop relationships with your clients, they learn more about you and understand your background. It gives them that relatability to know that, “Oh, he’s done this before. He knows exactly what I’m going through.” As a client, we were involved in the Management Link program. I had the experience of going through the monthly report with a Spader consultant, and I saw how powerful it was. When I had the opportunity to participate as a facilitator, I jumped on it right away because I knew how powerful it can be.
Right now I have three 20 Groups: two powersports and one marine group. Powersports was a very easy transition. That’s the industry I grew up in. That’s the industry I managed. I was surprised to learn how similar the marine and RV industries were to the powersports industries; both recreation products, both retail businesses. I was shocked actually that there was so much in common between the two industries.
Being a client that attends the 20 group meetings and being a facilitator that is facilitating the 20 group meetings gives you that client perspective where you think back to when you were attending the meetings. What did you like to see? What did you really try to get out of that meeting? Then I can bring that into the facilitation role.
How have you grown as a facilitator and what role does the whole team at Spader play in your growth?
Every single day, every time I meet with somebody, I tend to learn something new and that knowledge bank just keeps growing and growing. It’s amazing what you’re able to learn on a daily basis, especially through having so much data coming at you, and having access to all the numbers. I’m a numbers geek, so it’s just fun. But our leaders instructed me, “Hey, if you don’t know it, just don’t make up an answer, find somebody that does.” If I can’t be that resource for my client, I can at least find somebody or find something that will help them.
Everybody’s just very eager to help our clients succeed. Jerry Mickey was our Management Link consultant at the powersports dealership. I talked with Jerry every month, so I knew Jerry pretty well before I even started at Spader. Going and working in the same department as him when I first started, it was fun because it’s a friendly face and you feel like you know the guy. You could tell that he truly cared. It wasn’t just a monthly meeting, “Oh, I got to go run through numbers with this guy.” It’s somebody who’s interested in what you’re doing in your business and wanting you to succeed.
Every facilitator has a support representative and an entire team behind them. We have a service specialist, a parts specialist. We have people that are experts in every area. If the facilitator doesn’t know the answer to a question, there’s a team member or somebody at Spader that will have the answer.
How do client relationships factor into big picture success?
We get really close with a lot of our clients and we see them go from struggling to being successful, to thriving. It’s so fun to be a part of that and watch them grow and take that journey with them. With Spader, the employees truly care about our client’s success. It’s not just a job for a lot of us. We want to help them be successful, and we’re very excited to see them grow and take the things they learn to implement them in their business.
A lot of times we’re working with some second-, third-generation clients and they’re in the process of transitioning from mom and dad running the business. A lot of times, being part of that younger generation and being more in-tune with some of the things that we have in common provides that relatability and somebody that they can bounce stuff off of that’s almost like a peer to them.
I worked in a dealership for 10 years, but I never really had to make a ton of life-impacting business decisions. I look at my coworkers who have all been successful at owning and running and managing all kinds of businesses, and they’ve had to make these decisions. It’s nice to know that even though I don’t have that direct experience, I have access to people who do. Even if I haven’t personally gone through it, I’m going to know somebody who has, and I can help them by being a resource and getting them the information they need.
As I talk with clients, I continue to learn more and more. Eventually, it all comes together and you become a very valuable resource. You become that point of contact who people go to right away if they have a question. By having the data and having the team here, the possibilities are really endless as far as who we can help and what we can do.