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A common refrain states, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

While there are some clear limitations that come to mind when I hear that, I believe there are some very relevant ways that this idea will help you overcome the issues you are facing.


Right or wrong, this phrase is generally thought of first and foremost in regard to politics and politicians. Many times, people assume that things only happen because someone close to them has their ear and convinced them to take an action that may seem unbelievable to you.

If that is how you feel, what would it take for you to pick up the phone and contact your representative or their staff and seek to understand their thought process? To ask what knowledge or background they have on the matter and what motivated them to take the action? Versus just sharing your displeasure with their decision.

Now what would that call feel like if you already knew them? Maybe they had been to your dealership, met with your team, learned your efforts to bring value not just to your business and employees, but to your customers and the community as well.

That feels less daunting or overwhelming. It is what it should feel like. After all, they are your representative. But how can you expect them to know what your expectations and needs are unless they know you?

One of the easiest ways to build that relationship is to be part of the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealer Association (INEDA) Summer Legislative Meetings and to contribute to the Political Action Committee. Your input and contributions literally determine what actions we will take and who you believe will make the best decisions. Those relationships are essential to your business’ future.

Employee Recruitment and Retention

Maybe you are a manager/boss looking to build a cohesive team through recruitment and retention; working to bridge a generational or organizational gap between managers and employees. The ability to hear and understand the perspective of each person and the role they play in the success or failure of the effort is essential to be able to meet expectations. The more comfortable we are with those around us—based in healthy trust and accountability—the more vibrant and transformational your team will be.

This isn’t just something that matters to your current team but is something very attractive to new teammates. I have heard from many of the dealerships I have visited already about the efforts you are making to recruit members of your team—such as service technicians—and the diverse ways you are seeking to find those teammates. You are building strong relationships with FFA chapters, customers with children nearing the work force, and even those in your community who have expressed an interest in learning a trade. You have invested in them through scholarships, training, and equipment to help them be part of your team. Not just to complete a task, but to grow your business, to serve your customers, and to remain part of your community.

Those relationships are essential to your business’ culture and success.

Member Services

As Paul Harvey famously said, “and now…the rest of the story!”

For 25 years, there has been one relationship that has meant a lot to INEDA members. Many have known him ever before his current role at INEDA because he was one of you (started at a local dealership and ultimately become the owner).

Mark Othmer has devoted his entire professional life to this industry and the people who work in it every day. He has famously told me that he has only changed jobs one time and that was when he became the Nebraska Field Director at INEDA.

Over the last month, I have had the honor to begin my service to INEDA members in Nebraska by traveling alongside of him and walking in his footsteps into the dealerships in Nebraska. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner, manager, technician—you know him by name, welcome him (and me) into your business, and share your struggles and successes. It is truly amazing to see the respect and trust you have placed in Mark. It is a blessing for me to learn from him during this transition.