Often, Maher said, the managers never have been exposed to the entire dealership group's performance numbers.
"So it's very overwhelming to them," Maher said. "It takes a meeting or two for them to get comfortable with the composite, the numbers and know that their numbers are reflected properly and there's credibility to the process."
Maher said another downside can be if the dealer doesn't commit to continuity in the meeting schedule. "That's very important because the managers need to know we're coming in, and they're going to be held accountable, and it cannot be a one-off or afterthought," he said.
He said some dealers will sign up to get a composite each month for all their stores, but they do not do a regularly scheduled meeting with the moderator.
"The numbers alone will not drive performance," Maher said.
But in connection with a regular meeting, he said, "We can say, 'We picked this. We'll be back in three months to review it and see how did you make it or not make it.'"
Three years ago, dealer Jeff Lupient decided his group no longer would attend external 20 Group meetings.
"A lot of them took the general managers out of state to warm weather and a vacationlike setting rather than it being a business meeting," said Lupient, CEO of Lupient Automotive Group in the Minneapolis area.
Lupient Automotive has six dealerships and sells about 6,000 new and used vehicles a year. It started doing its own internal 20 Group meetings once a quarter.
But the sessions, initially, were not a hit with everyone, he said.
"The first couple of the 20 Groups were ugly. They were uncomfortable," Lupient said. "We found that some on our management team were not in the right job, and their weaknesses came to the surface in these sessions."
Some managers quit, some were let go, and some were transferred to jobs that better suited their skills. In short, "the 20 Groups helped facilitate a quicker transition to upgrade our management," he said.
The two-day sessions take place at Lupient's Infiniti store in a Minneapolis suburb. The sessions eventually became so helpful that Lupient increased them to every 60 days. It costs him $2,500 a day to pay his moderator, Maher.
Therefore, a two-day session is $5,000 not including travel costs. Besides hosting the sessions, Maher, who's a former dealer himself, secret shops Lupient's stores to see how customers are being serviced.
Lupient's overall operating profits have improved steadily since his group began doing the internal 20 Groups. He said his managers use the meetings to "sharpen their pencil" and be better managers. Customer service has improved too, he said.
"We actually have a [BS] button that [Maher] pushes," Lupient said. "He pushes it when a GM's explanation for why the numbers went a certain way is BS."