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They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But who says old dogs don’t need to learn a few?

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Dealers Learn Some New Tricks at Cooper’s Advanced Education Program

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But who says old dogs don’t need to learn a few?

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That is the notion behind the Cooper Advanced Management Program (CAMP), a three-part educational program produced by Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. for the benefit of some of its best independent dealers. That’s right, some of its best dealers.

One would think that these already successful tire dealers would have little to learn, especially from a tire company-sponsored program, many of which barely scratch the surface of any given subject. But Cooper’s CAMP is decidedly different, delivering highly detailed information over an intense two-and-a-half day schedule.

Developed to provide "quality business skills training and educational opportunities to our dealers," according to Chad Britton, who heads CAMP as the recently promoted manager of sales and marketing training, Cooper covers the entire cost of the program, including transportation and lodging.

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Each "class" consists of some 20 selected dealers, who commit to attending the three-session CAMP cycle. The first session – "Effective Financial Management" ®“ was held in early May in Findlay, Ohio. The second, "Leadership & Optimizing Performance," concerns human resource and people management issues and is scheduled for Sept. 29 to Oct.2 in Columbus, Ohio. The final session, "Building a Sales & Marketing Culture," is tentatively set for Mar. 22-25 in San Antonio, Texas, and will examine ways for dealers to leverage promotional efforts to build loyal customers and future sales growth.

Cooper said CAMP is similar to executive MBA programs – high concentration of information in a short period of time, in this case, some 20 classroom hours ®“ and features extensive interaction among instructors and participants. Cooper uses its own training staff and outside experts to conduct the sessions. Steve Hegg of Business Resource Service, based in Seattle, led the financial management program.

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Hegg, who has a background as a small businessman and in commercial banking, used the fictitious R&R Tire Co., a small dealer that gained big problems after expansion, as the basis for his instruction, giving attendees a familiar scenario upon which to learn.

Using R&R Tire as an example, Hegg examined how the basic tools of financial management – balance sheets and income statements ®“ should be used use to analyze the financial health and capabilities of a company, especially to find where trouble spots lie. Some analysis tools Hegg offered included a financial "road map," a flow chart that allows a business owner to self-diagnose the cause and effect relationship between business activities and results.

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For instance, if a dealer is suffering from low gross margins, the "road map" traces the problem back to potential root causes, such as issues with productivity, inventory control, bookkeeping, buying and pricing practices, and customer credit and cash discounts. And it allows the dealer to quickly see how a low gross margin problem directly and indirectly impacts other areas of the business.

Hegg also discussed other key financial management issues like taxes, ratio calculation and analysis, profit planning and cash budgeting, tips for improving cash flow, applying for loans, and estate planning.

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