Q&A With Jim Dotter, President of the Select Dealer Group

Jim Dotter is President of Virginia Business Systems and an expert in document management solutions including printers, MFPs, scanners, software, solutions and managed services. He recently became president of the Select Dealer Group, an independent dealer peer-to-peer group whose CEOs meet three times per year to share best practices. The group, also known as SDG, is comprised of office equipment and systems dealer members who are serious about implementing the ProFinance Model for Success in their dealerships. I spoke with Jim recently to ask about SDG and how dealers are benefiting from the group’s models and approaches.

JimDotterYou recently became the president of the Select Dealer Group. What are the benefits of being a member of the group? 

I am halfway through a two-year term and it has been quite an experience.  We share data and benchmark financials and service statistics to uncover opportunities for improvement. The benefit is the access to fellow business people who do what you do. It is a resource full of members who have already done what you are thinking about doing and can share best practices and help you avoid pitfalls. It’s also a way of making our universe of dealers a little smaller and more intimate.

The SDG is dedicated to fostering and implementing what you call “the ProFinance Model for Success” in their dealerships. Can you describe that model?

The model has been around for almost 30 years and is a proven tool for dealers to identify and improve their operations and financial results.  It combines financial, operational, and staffing benchmarks into a digestible set of targets. The benchmarks are kept current by analyzing the performance of about 150 top independent dealers, and then selecting the 85 percent level of best practices. Taking the ProFinance course is a prerequisite for being an SDG member in good standing, as it’s important our members understand the code of accounts and the importance of standardization.

Why is the ProFinance model such an important tool for dealer success?

If utilized to its potential, the model helps owners and managers identify strong and weak performance areas to focus their efforts.  It becomes the communication tool for monthly management performance meetings, business planning and even acquisitions. It is also the only method for us to compare companies across the country and develop standardized apples-to-apples comparisons.  Using these tools helps us to compete more effectively in this ultra-competitive and mature market.

When is the next meeting of the group, and what topics will be discussed?

The next meeting will be in Torrey Pines outside of San Diego in February. The content of the February meeting will include analysts giving us their insights into the future of the industry, a discussion on the rapid pace of acquisitions, a member panel, a managed services presentation, and our famous lightning round.  All of these meetings include sponsors, who bring valuable content on trends, new products and services.  Our other meetings are typically co-located with other industry events such as BTA, ITEX and the Executive Connection Summit in Scottsdale.

What is one dealer best practice you feel is important for dealers to consider today?

One important best practice is the protection of deteriorating aftermarket revenue and resulting profitability.  There are some irresponsible organizations out there selling low click rates and then not fulfilling their commitments to the customer.  Dealers don’t have the same goals as manufacturer competitors, and we are not in business to keep factories running — we are in business to serve our customers in a responsible and sustainable manner. As such, dealers are tasked with embracing profitable revenue opportunities of the future and the challenges in identifying, adopting and executing a plan to make that transition. Luckily, SDG helps present and guide members through these opportunities.

Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.