127: Recapping Regional Member Meetings with Mike Whitaker

Written by Rob Stott

July 12, 2022

Mike Whitaker independent thinking podcast

We love getting out and seeing our Members whenever we get the chance. Waiting six months in between PrimeTime shows just doesn’t cut it anymore, which is why Nationwide recently held its second slate of Regional Member Meetings. This past June, we had stops in Minneapolis, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Indianapolis. Nationwide’s Mike Whitaker jumps into the podcast to talk about all the great networking and education that took place.

Interested in joining us in Orlando for PrimeTime? Head to www.nationwideprimetime.com today to register! PrimeTime is a free benefit of a retailer’s membership with Nationwide Marketing Group.


Rob Stott: All right. We are back on the Independent Thinking Podcast. And this is going to be the smoothest sounding. I’m going to point that out first because never before have I had two microphones. I’m just going to be honest, I’ve always sounded great. I can’t lie about that. But now to have someone who steps up, probably exceeds me, let’s be honest a little bit, with the Shure microphone, Mr. Mike Whitaker.

Mike Whitaker: Rob, I got to tell you, you sound great.

Rob Stott: You do too, man. You want to just talk for a half hour and just ogle over each other’s voices?

Mike Whitaker: I think we’re going to have to talk for a half an hour no matter what. So, we might as well jump right in. And I got to tell you, the weather in Philly this time of year, pretty good, right?

Rob Stott: It’s all right. It’s not bad. How’s it down there in Atlanta?

Mike Whitaker: It’s great baseball weather.

Rob Stott: Yeah, it is.

Mike Whitaker: Great baseball weather for my Braves, who are right now, still sitting about four games ahead of your Phillies. Life’s pretty good right now.

Rob Stott: I know, I know. For the people that don’t know, there’s some things riding on those standings. So, I know. We’re sitting here, early July. By the time we’re in Orlando, things will have been decided and either you’re going to get a podcast episode or I’m going to get PrimeTime today.

Mike Whitaker: I think it’s a win for everybody involved either way you go, but I am definitely going to keep pulling for our Braves. We’re looking for that back-to-back, that next World Series, and go out there and get a win. And speaking to getting wins, man, let’s talk about some retailers getting some wins. Let’s talk about that.

Rob Stott: Yeah. We’ve been doing it. We love the wins. We love talking about how, their businesses, how we can improve them. All the things that we got going on at Nationwide and not only telling them over podcasts and telling them over press releases and other communications we send out, but doing it in person. That’s always the best part. And I know we love to do that, obviously twice a year during PrimeTime, but also getting out and into the membership and throughout the country in other ways. And we did that recently with the regional events. It was the second time. We had a slate of events where we went out city to city and got groups of members together and were able to talk to them and did so, a Northern swing sort of along the I-80 corridor, I guess, if you went coast to coast this past June. So tell me about that. It was the second time through. What did you see different this time around or what was it like just being out face-to-face in different cities?

Mike Whitaker: Absolutely, Rob. So this series of regional meetings, we got to visit Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then we hopped over to your hometown of Philadelphia. Actually, before we went to Philadelphia, we went from Minneapolis. We went out to Sacramento. From Sacramento to Philadelphia, from Philadelphia to Indianapolis, because the folks who planned these events don’t own a map.

Rob Stott: I was going to ask. How are you feeling after all that travel?

Mike Whitaker: I’m not sure what time zone I’m in. Not sure what day it is, but I know that it was a great series of meetings. And I’m glad you brought up PrimeTime. As we talk to members over and over again and ask for their feedback, they consistently tell us the two best parts of PrimeTime, it’s education and it’s networking. So these regional events bring those two best parts of PrimeTime right there in your neck of the woods. The event was designed. We hosted dinner on the day. We kicked off with a little dinner. We all got together just to meet each other, have some fellowship, have some time to network. And then it’s followed with a solid day of the actual meeting. We start at 8:00 in the morning. We run to 4:00 in the afternoon. So for many dealers that are right now, they’re busy. They may be short staffed. They’re struggling to get away from the store for a long period of time, but they only have to invest a day.

Mike Whitaker: That one day they can come in and really engage, learn, grow, network, and share. And that’s what happened. Every single one of those meetings. Great groups of retailers came in and we talked to dealers at large before the meeting to find out what are those hottest topics. It’s hiring and recruiting new team members. It’s retaining the team members we have. It’s making sure delivery is a profitable enterprise for us and that we’re doing that very efficiently. It’s getting our merchandising right. And it’s making sure we’re nailing digital. So these were a combination. The mornings were spent strictly in round tables. And, Rob, I know you got to hear those round tables in Philadelphia. What was kind of your impression of all that sharing that went on?

Rob Stott: Yeah, well, I know, first of all, I’m never getting out of a podcast with Mike Whitaker without a question being asked of me. So I appreciate you doing this upfront and not just hijacking the whole episode because our bet’s still on, not official yet, but no, to answer your question, the experience was awesome. I mean, I hate to sum it up in one word, but to see the members and that was kind of the biggest takeaway from these for me was that it was them discussing in more of a back and forth, a very engaging environment. It wasn’t just being talked to. It wasn’t like a class where you’re sitting there. Yeah, there’s slides that you’re run through and information being shared, but it was more actual, real life experiences that they’re sharing in there from their stores that other members, in the same region too.

Rob Stott: There’s always value in talking to members from across the country, different stores, different locations. But when you’re talking to people that aren’t competitors directly, you’re in the same neck of the woods, but not necessarily in the same neighborhood or down the same street from one another. And you’re able to share those ideas and hear things that are working in that market and around your area. So it was cool to see them share those ideas and be engaging, not with just the Nationwide team that was there, but also the other members that were there and really take very valuable feedback and tidbits that they could apply to their stores that day.

Rob Stott: Because that’s the other part about it that was awesome is that, like you mentioned, it’s just a day, so it’s not like you’re having to go to a four day event and take that much time away from your store. You could really show up to this regional event, go back to your store later that afternoon, and apply some of the things you learned and see the return on your day’s investment right there. So I mean, just a cool experience all around and neat that it was a stop in Philly and, also, obviously to see you guys and be able to spend that time together. But something that was a neat experience, I think.

Mike Whitaker: It really was. And I loved the way that the sharing took place. And in a couple of these cities, we had dealers who really were right there less than two miles apart. And you think about that for a second, you go, “Well, okay, well, if you’re two miles apart and you’re in the same business aren’t you competitors?” We’re really not. For independents, any independent, your competition, it’s the Lowes, it’s the Home Depot, it’s the Best Buy. It’s the Mattress Firm. It’s those national chains. We’re really not in that direct competition with each other. All we know is that as we grow together as a channel, that rising tide lifts all ships. So it was neat to see those folks who are right there close together and see some of those relationships they’d already developed, see some of those develop at these events where dealers bared it all.

Mike Whitaker: They said, “Hey, here’s the things I’ve done this year that have been really successful. Here’s some places where I’m struggling. Here’s some places where I have challenges.” And many of those are solved when you get retailers in a room together. Solving retail problems? There are very few retail problems that a room full of independent dealers can’t come together and find a best practice, find a solution for. But the ones that they can’t find that solution, well, that’s what the group’s about. So there were some spots where they challenged us. They gave us some, “Hey, go explore this. Hey, help us find ways to do that better.” That’s really what these meetings were about for us. We didn’t have a lot of presentations going on. We had a lot of sharing going on. And for our team, we did a lot listening, to hear what’s really happening out on the front lines right now.

Mike Whitaker: And we know the landscape’s changing. One thing that we were able to thoroughly verify through these meetings, and you’ve been predicting this for a while, that this strange market we’ve been in through the pandemic over the past two, three years, where if you had it in stock, you could pretty well sell it. All you had to do was have inventory and folks were coming out and they were buying with very, very little shopping actually happening. We’re seeing from those dealers, their feedback was very clear. That’s shifting. We’re getting back into that world where we have to compete to get the shopper’s attention. We have to compete to bring the shopper back into our store. As inventory normalizes and we see big boxes get back to full inventory levels. We’re back to full inventory levels. There’s some great benefits. You’re going to be able to order something and it’s going to show up on time. But you got to go fight for that shopper because everybody else is in that same position.

Mike Whitaker: So for dealers that maybe took their eye off the ball and slowed their marketing efforts down, they’re understanding the resounding urgency of get out in the market. Make sure you’re doubling down. We’re in a place where all our national competition, they’re doubling down on their marketing investments. We’re going to have to be there too. We’re going to have to go out and fight for those shoppers because if your brand’s not appearing? Your brand’s disappearing.

Rob Stott: Right.

Mike Whitaker: Now, one thing that I thought was really interesting was hearing all the feedback about how the digital platform’s working. Those dealers who are engaged and they have that RWS Level Four website. They’ve hooked up with AdRocket and they’re out there pumping those AdRocket campaigns. They’re seeing success, up 10%, year over year. Dealers not on the platform? Down 2%. So hearing it directly from them and how that’s working. As we know now, it’s funny to me, we spent so much time talking about what’s your website look like? What are the aesthetics of your website? And we still have, there’s folks in this industry, there are groups out there talking about, “Oh, we’re going to spend all this time on the aesthetics of a website.” The dealers have figured it out.

Rob Stott: It can look good.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. But if you go to amazon.com, it’s disgusting. Amazon is not an aesthetically pleasing website. But it does three things and it does them really well. Do you have it? When can I get it? And how much does it cost?

Rob Stott: Right.

Mike Whitaker: Oh, and by the way, if you can tell me, what do other people who bought it think about it? So for those dealers on those RWS websites, as they start to integrate inventory, they’re getting their POS integrations in. They’re making sure their pricing is right where it needs to be. They’ve got those review feeds coming in. Their websites are able to do that very well. They can tell you, “Yes.” You go into it and you say, “Hey, I need a dishwasher.” Or in your case, say, “I need some Cafe Appliances.”

“Do you have it?” “We do. It’s in stock.” When you’re able to flag that and say, “Yes, it’s in stock. Yes, it’s on display.” “When can I get it?” “It’s available for delivery tomorrow.” “What’s it cost?” “Hey, we’ve got a great price, very competitive price. And, oh, by the way, check out the reviews. It’s 4.7 stars. Shoppers love it.” That’s bringing folks into their stores. So we’re seeing how that works and really the game now is you got to have that great website, but you got to drive traffic to it.

I’m hearing great things about AdRocket in these meetings. Lots of conversations about the creative ways they’re using AdRocket. They’re getting out there and running campaigns to go after those local shoppers. We know that the shopper sentiment, those dealers at the regional meetings telling us they’re still hearing a lot of great things from shoppers who are very passionate about buying local.

And I believe that’s going to stick around for years and years after this. They’ve been discovered. And it’s not really hard to understand. You’ve shopped in an independent retail environment. It’s a different experience. It’s a better experience. The pandemic forced us to all go experience that.

Rob Stott: And more white glove, which it is that experience. So that’s the thing that the shopper likes to come in and see. There’s the convenience factor, sure, sometimes where you might want to go, “I need to make a quick run and just get in, get out.” But if you’re making one of these big purchases, especially one, you think about the shopper cycle and how often they’re coming into these types of stores, especially appliances, seven to 10 years. Things have drastically changed in the appliance market over the last seven to 10 years and just what types of product are out there. So they want someone that can explain that to them.

Rob Stott: And obviously we’ve got the tools on the marketing and the digital side and all that sort of stuff to help with navigating those avenues. The one thing you mentioned that I want to call back to is the things that we’ve learned as Nationwide, talking to these members. For you, what was the biggest takeaway from the four events of something that we need to go back and improve what we’re doing to better serve the members that we were getting out in front of?

Mike Whitaker: Simplify. They made it very clear. Simple. And it’s not hard to understand why. Operating an independent retail business, not an easy task. Those dealers wear many, many hats. And you saw that as they introduced themselves in Philly. When you ask them, “So what do you do inside your company?” There wasn’t a single person who said, “Oh, I’m just a buyer.”

“Or I’m just in charge of sales.” They wear many, many hats. So when you look at all the things that are available from the network of Nationwide, they look at it and they say, “How can you make it simple?” Now their feedback was when you took the RWS portfolio and you put it into the Just Say Yes Plus Package so that I got everything I needed. I got the great website. I got AdRocket. I got Reputation Management. I got my sales enablement app in RetailDeck. I got all the things that I need.

And all I had to do was sign up for one service, everything came, it all works together. That makes it easy for me. They said, “How can you do more of that? How can you find ways to simplify the financial services offerings?” There’s a ton of money for a retailer to save through our financial services offerings. They’re saying, “How can you make that easier for me?” And there’s things happening. We’re starting to see the integration of Wells Fargo and Synchrony Retail Credit on websites. A lot of things that are underway, but they reinforce that message. “Keep it simple. Make it easy to access. I got a lot going on and I want to make sure I’m getting everything I can out of my group. Just make it easy for me to do that.”

Rob Stott: Another thing that I picked up on while we were out is sort of helping them explain and understand on the data side of things the power of some of the tools that we do have, and what’s going on. And in Philly, in particular, we had one member that was a big proponent and an early adopter of PriMetrix and everything that had to offer. And kind of seeing you, you had a great presentation on exactly that, simplifying what PriMetrix is and what it’s capable of, and really helping them to understand how it’s a tool that they can leverage to boost business.

Mike Whitaker: Well, I think the magic there, Rob is, I am at my core, I’m just a retailer. I’m just an old independent dealer. Never claimed to be anything else. So when they talk to our data teams, and I absolutely adore our data teams, we got close to 30 people that are working in technology and working in data and analytics. It’s the only way that independents are ever going to have a seat at the table when it comes to where the manufacturers place their priorities. For us to truly get there we’re going to have to be on a level playing field with all the big boxes, all the national chains, and have the same data we can provide that allows them to do things like forecast. That’s where you get inventory allocations. That’s where you get exclusive models. So we’re doing all the things that make that happen.

Mike Whitaker: But when you talk to our data folks, they’re all just wicked smart. They are so smart. And they’re so passionate about data, that it’s really easy. I catch myself doing it. We’ll get into a call with our data team and five minutes in, man, I’m confused. So that’s one of the things we’re able to do is, bring it. Give it to an old retailer. If I can figure it out, they can figure it out. So when we get down to that, why does it matter? Well, for buyers, for the history of merchandising, up until now in the independent channel, buyers all make decisions based on what my gut says.

Rob Stott: Right. The one tool you had access to, your gut.

Mike Whitaker: For the same investment, the same price, now you have access to the ART tool, the Assortment Rationalization Tool. It lets you go in and say, “Am I at the right price? Am I pulling the right margins? Am I carrying the right lineup? Am I carrying the right brands? Do I have the right models?” Because it takes that scope, that scale of data, coming in. Right now, over two and a half billion dollars, millions and millions of data points. We know what’s going through that system, and when you have that much going through the pipes, then it gives you very statistically relevant data. It gives you the ability to start doing predictive analysis. To say, “Okay, if I brought this in here’s what’s going to happen.” And anytime a dealer can look at their lineup and say, “Okay, if I move this product, this product, this product, I bring in these three new products, and that’s going to help me sell an extra 10% this year. And I’m going to do it enhancing my margins by 20%.” That’s a win. And they need it right now because one of the other big, big topics was people.

We live in a world, and this was a bit of a shock to some of our dealers, it’s really hard to get folks on delivery and installation teams right now. It’s hard to get folks on the sales floor. But we live in a world where you can go work at McDonald’s and make 18 bucks an hour. We live in a world where you can get a Chick-fil-A and make $20 an hour. You can go to In-N-Out Burger and you can get a job starting at $22 an hour. So when you flip that around and you say, “What are you paying your delivery drivers?”

“I pay them 12 bucks an hour.” “So I can lift heavy appliances, heavy furniture, all day long out in the heat, out in the cold, in the rain, in the snow and I’m going to make 12 bucks an hour. Or I can go flip burgers and dunk fries, and I make $18 an hour.” Where are you going?

So we’ve got to be competitive. And the only way we can be competitive is if we’re able to keep margins very healthy. And that’s where all our investments in those tools that exist to help you merchandise well, to help you market well, that you’re going to have to make margin. And at the same time, one of the things is we heard from dealers. There were two distinct camps when it came to delivery. There were some folks who were convinced to their core, they had to give it away at a very, very, very low price.

“I’ve got to do delivery at $39. Can’t charge a dime more than 39 bucks.” While I got another guy across the room, “But our standard delivery fee’s 179.”

Rob Stott: Right. It’s that Amazon effect, man. It’s like everyone thinks, well, two day and you get it free. And it’s just it’s not the same.

Mike Whitaker: But here’s the crazy part. And this came straight from our dealers and it was regardless of the geography. We were in California, we were in Philadelphia. We were in the Midwest and Indianapolis. Everywhere, there were dealers in every group who have found a way to build value in their delivery service and charge an appropriate amount for it. I walked away from these meetings convinced if you’re charging less than a 129, 139 bucks for delivery, you’re leaving money on the table. Because they’re not getting pushback from shoppers.

It’s a very valuable service. Those shoppers, they want to, first of all, they want you to do it. They don’t want to pick up and carry furniture, bedding, appliances. It’s heavy stuff, hard to navigate. They want to make sure you’re going to take good care of their home.

They want to make sure you’re not going to tear things up and you’re going to take care of that new purchase they made. They want to make sure you’re sending folks that they’re comfortable having in their homes. So when they’re your employees and you can say, “Hey, we’ve done a background check on every single member of the team. You know that the folks coming into your home are quality. Not whoever we hired through a subcontractor.” When you take credit for those values. Are you going to unpack it? Are you going to haul all that material? Take credit for that. Dealers that are giving away hoses for washing machine, plugs for dryers, water lines for refrigerators, they’re taking no credit for it. They are truly providing a one stop solution. Something that is of great value. And just from pressure in the market, they go, “Well, we probably shouldn’t more than 49 bucks.”

You should. But in order to do so, it’s like everything else, right? You have to build the value. You have to be able to express why that product is valuable. And when you do, no problem whatsoever. Now, one thing we also learned, that I thought was really interesting. If you raise your delivery fee by $25, nobody says a word. They don’t know what your delivery fee was two weeks ago. They have no idea. Your sales team’s going to tell you, “No, no, no.” Yes, they can. They’ll be fine. You can get the $25 increase. Nobody says a word, no pushback. You’re going to be able to afford to take better care of your delivery team. But if you charge a $5 fuel surcharge, you’re going to hear from half your shoppers, and they’re angry.

They paid the $5 gallon gas to get to the store. They don’t want to pay for your $5 gallon diesel to get the product to them. If you write it down as a fuel surcharge, it’s not going to go well.

Rob Stott: Again, it’s all-

Mike Whitaker: You increase the delivery price 25 bucks, nobody cares.

Rob Stott: It’s all how you talk about it.

Mike Whitaker: Yep.

Rob Stott: And present that fact. And it’s just marketing in a different way. You can market your product, you can market your store, you can market how you do your delivery and installation services. It’s all having that right messaging, which I think is kind of, not to simplify it but if we’re talking about in the spirit of simplifying things, that’s what it boils down to.

Mike Whitaker: Really is.

Rob Stott: Something cool is that just in talking here now that you can see just all of the different things that we have from data to the merchandising to delivery and installation to the marketing and website. So there was a lot of, this was all in the day. Like that’s what you have to kind of think about.

Mike Whitaker: In a day.

Rob Stott: All of this was done in a day and done effectively. And in a way that was snackable for these retailers and really applicable to what they’re doing here and now, and something that I think, it shows the kind of lasting value of obviously getting together and meeting and things like that, but of the specifically of these regional events and kind of what we might have moving forward.

Mike Whitaker: And I love the fact they all left with a list of action items. And they shared those. And it was great. Now, one thing I shared with them, one of the things I shared at the very beginning of the day, and we won’t go too deep into the story here, but if you’re not familiar with the Jewelers Building in Chicago, fascinating piece of architecture. They built it for one reason, because a hub of the jewelry world back in the ’20s in Chicago, but everybody kept getting robbed every time they pulled up to their showroom. So they said, “What if we built this building? And we put elevators inside, car elevators. We could drive right in the building. It’ll take you up to your floor, drive your car off the building. It’s all secured, no way anybody’s going to rob you. You’re finally going to be able to be a jeweler in Chicago with no fear of a stickup.”

And they built it. And up on top of it, they built a beautiful, beautiful, dome at the top of the building. Now it was too big to be a jewelry showroom. “What are we going to do with it?” “Wouldn’t that make a great nightclub or speakeasy?” “Yeah, but we need a client. We need a tenant. Who are we going to get?” Well, they got Al Capone. And not a single jeweler moved into the building. And it proves out one point. You can only one great thing at a time.

So one of the challenges we gave these dealers, come out of here with 10 ideas, but know that one great idea you’re going to tackle first. Once you knock it down, then go to idea number two. Once it’s complete, move on to idea number three. If you go back with 10 ideas and you try them all at once. Probably not going to work. Go back with 10 ideas and nail them in priority order, and you’re going to have a sustainable piece of growth for the future. And talking to several of those dealers. After I’ve had 20 phone calls with folks we got the pleasure of hanging out with at the meetings, and they’re rocking and rolling. They’re on to number two. They went back and they knocked down the first one. For a lot of them the first one was, “I’m going to go back and I’m going to raise my delivery fees.” That didn’t take long. We can do that in a day.

Rob Stott: Simple enough.

Mike Whitaker: Moving on to number two. Number two was, “I’m going to give my delivery drivers an increase in their compensation.” Boom, nailed that one day two. Now we’re moving on to number three.

And maybe number three, we went to our website. That’s going to take us a couple weeks. But they’re making solid progress. Now the one thing I will say that we’ve done an unfair thing here, Rob. We’ve talked about all the great things that just happened.

At four meetings. And there are going to be folks who are in your audience who are listening to us right now and they’re saying, “Oh no.”

Rob Stott: “I missed out.”

Mike Whitaker: “I missed it.” So if they missed it, there is a little shindig coming up in Florida, right?

Rob Stott: I think so. A couple weeks.

Mike Whitaker: I think so.

Rob Stott: Something at the Gaylord?

Mike Whitaker: According to the clock right now-

Rob Stott: As we’re recording, what are we at? Under 40.

Mike Whitaker: 37 days, three hours, six minutes, and five seconds

Rob Stott: And counting. And you can minus a few days from that by the time this publishes. So it’ll be fun to be down there, back, first time since Phoenix, gathering together at PrimeTime in Orlando, the Gaylord down there.

Mike Whitaker: And then once we get into the Gaylord, then we go into the fall. And now we made, as you referenced earlier. We made the northern swing here in the late spring, early summer. And we’re already in planning, Melissa Stinson and the great events team here at Nationwide, they’re already working hard on a fall series of regional events. Don’t know where all those are going to be. We know we’re going to go a little bit more toward the South. I do have strong confirmed rumors that a couple of these are going to fall deep in the heart of Texas. Maybe one over in Oklahoma.

Rob Stott: Breaking news here on the Independent Thinking Podcast.

Mike Whitaker: Mr. Dennis Willich and the team down at Nationwide Southwest, they are passionate about these meetings.

Rob Stott: Certainly are.

Mike Whitaker: They do a phenomenal job in supporting these. So we’ll have at least one meeting down in Texas. And we’ll have another series this fall. And, Rob, here’s the thing. Start saving your pennies now because these meetings are super expensive for a Nationwide member to come to, aren’t they?

Rob Stott: Yeah, they break the bank from what I understand. What was that cost again?

Mike Whitaker: Included in your Nationwide membership.

Rob Stott: All right. Well, I’ll start saving.

Mike Whitaker: Included in your membership. Tell me PrimeTime. What’s the registration fee for PrimeTime?

Rob Stott: It’s zero.

Mike Whitaker: Absolutely zero, because it’s included in your Nationwide membership. It’s too important for you to be at the show. And I know other groups have different opinions on this. I know there are groups out there that they are passionate about charging registration fees to come to their events. We’re not. And that’s because we understand how valuable it is to get dealers together and there shouldn’t be a barrier between you and coming together with your group. So I will challenge you right now. If your group’s trying to charge you a fee to go to their show, don’t go to theirs. Come to ours and be our guest. We will welcome you to come check out Nationwide and check out all the things that are going on in and around this group. It’s not simple to explain. We would take way too long on a podcast to try to tell you all the great things happening, but from all the great web and digital initiatives, the data and analytics that we touched on here briefly, Nationwide Learning Academy going to be in full force in Orlando. We will have over 50 sessions, got some great speakers coming in there.

PrimeTime is a dynamic experience. We’re even going to let you be our guest over at Universal Studios. We’re going to go over to CityWalk and have a great networking event there. Rob Stott will be in costume. I can’t say what. But Rob will certainly be themed out for Universal.

Rob Stott: It’s going be something.

Mike Whitaker: I’m extremely excited about that. Another thing, if you’re not going to make it to PrimeTime, if you’re not able to get there, you got something else going on in August, you can’t get there. I would tell you, go and engage with the Nationwide Marketing Group Facebook page, because have we revealed this yet, Rob?

Rob Stott: Not on the podcast. So this will be a first time for anyone that’s made it this far and is listening. So some good news for you.

Mike Whitaker: Let’s do that.

Rob Stott: Let’s do it. So if you’re not there in person to see the costume that’s happening at Universal, you can always follow us on Facebook and make sure you’re logged in and ready to go by the time PrimeTime’s happening, because we’re doing some Facebook lives from PrimeTime throughout the four days of the show. A couple of the events that are happening beforehand, and obviously of course, during the expo itself and going from booth to booth and highlighting some of the things that are happening, kind of a PrimeTime live experience

Mike Whitaker: As loyal listeners of the Independent Thinking Podcast, you will also very much enjoy the host of PrimeTime Live. It will be hosted by our one and only Mr. Rob Stott.

Rob Stott: Your’s truly.

Mike Whitaker: he’s going to take you on an adventure. And I’ll tell you, even if you’re coming to PrimeTime, you may want to check these out when you go back. See what you missed. Because every time we do PrimeTime, and I’m up to now, it’s my 40 some odd PrimeTime, man.

Rob Stott: You always miss something. Yeah.

Mike Whitaker: You’re going to miss things. You can’t be everywhere. So check those out. You’ll find out some good things there. You mentioned center stage coming back at the show. So lots of great information from key vendor executives. There’s just so much to soak up. So Nationwide members, I will tell you this, inside track, inside information, on the Independent Thinking Podcast, the Gaylord Palms is going to sell out.

Rob Stott: It’s going to be-

Mike Whitaker: Those rooms are available first come, first serve. So get yourself registered to secure your room. We’re going to have some auxiliary hotels, but it’s kind of nice to be right there in the thick of it. Plus those auxiliary hotels may end up costing a little more than the Gaylord.

Rob Stott: I know. And you miss out on the lazy river and everything that they’ve upgraded since the last time. They’ve added a couple hundred rooms, if I remember right.

Mike Whitaker: They have added rooms. They’ve got an all new meeting space where the Nationwide Learning Academy will be happening and some brand new, nice rooms there.

Rob Stott: A lot of good things to look forward to.

Mike Whitaker: But get yourself registered. Now, if you are not a Nationwide member, I wasn’t kidding. Come be our guest at PrimeTime. It’s teamup@nationwidegroup.org. Shoot us an email. Teamup@nationwidegroup.org and say, “Hey, I want to come to Orlando. I want to come down and see what this is all about.” It’s no obligation whatsoever. We will get you registered. It’s no fee whatsoever. And we will cut you loose, let you go experience all the great things that are happening at Nationwide Marketing Group. It’s the best use of a few days that you could possibly imagine.

Rob Stott: Yeah, it’s just a fantastic way, not even the vendors that are there and see the product and get that sort of experience, but learn about the Nationwide team and all of the different offerings, things that we’ve talked about today from the website services to the marketing and financial services and the digital service, everything that we got under the cover and what are you going to add?

Mike Whitaker: And the most exciting. And I’ve never said this before.

Rob Stott: Uh-oh.

Mike Whitaker: This is the first time I’ve ever put these particular words together in this particular order, the most exciting product launch in consumer electronics in the past 25 years, exclusively at PrimeTime.

Rob Stott: It’s going to be something. I don’t think we can say.

Mike Whitaker: We can’t talk about it.

Rob Stott: We can’t. We’re not allowed, but it’s going to be something. And certain people in the industry are, it’s going to be fun.

Mike Whitaker: It’s going to be, hmm, okay, we can’t say what it is. We cannot say what it is. We’re not allowed to say what it is, but I will tell you this.

Rob Stott: I mean, we’re going to be over the moon and on our way to Mars, I think with how excited we are.

Mike Whitaker: We could potentially be could.

Rob Stott: Could.

Mike Whitaker: Rob, I will tell you one thing. So, I mean, I made the switch to an electric car. About a year. And at the time it was one of those I did it because I wanted a car that would drive itself. There was no environmental impact thing. It was like, “Oh, car drives itself.” Better driver than me. But I do love driving past gas pumps right now. Gas prices are super high. And not that this has anything at all, this actually has nothing to do with our product launch.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Mike Whitaker: In consumer electronics at the show. But every time I drive by a gas station in my Tesla, I smile a little.

Rob Stott: Yeah. It’s fun. I’m jealous. Working from home, I don’t have the commute. So the gas doesn’t hit me as hard, but it still does every time you have to go and fill. But I would love to just plug a car in and have it charge up and go a couple hundred miles.

Mike Whitaker: Me too.

Rob Stott: It’s nice.

Mike Whitaker: And that’s a great theory with consumer electronics too. If you had something really cool you could just plug in.

Rob Stott: Yeah. Plug it in and it works.

Mike Whitaker: You’re going to have to come to Orlando to experience it.

Rob Stott: Well, Mr. Whitaker, you mentioned it. We could talk for hours on end, especially not just about the products and the services, but just to hear these silky smooth vocals continue to roll through the podcast.

Mike Whitaker: Dude, they are rolling, but I’ll tell you this. We are coming up on the top of the hour and I’m excited. I’ll even give you a little teaser here. At the top of the hour I actually have a call with our HR department, with Kelly Patridge and the HR team.

Rob Stott: They’ve got some things happening.

Mike Whitaker: Usually when I say I have to have a call with HR.

Rob Stott: You’d be a little worried. I did tighten up a little bit, because I thought, I don’t know. What did Mike do now?

Mike Whitaker: I didn’t anything bad. I’m not in trouble at all. We’re talking about, they’re going to have a full track of human resource sessions at the show. And it’s such a hot topic for our dealers right now. They’ve got to stay on top of the best practices. They’ve got to stay on top of what’s right now in human resources. And we have some great presentations coming together. Kelly Patridge, Chris Keyster, Genevieve Condon, we’ve got a great team and they are bringing a lot of that latest and greatest in HR to PrimeTime. Also, in addition to those educational sessions, they’re going to be hosting a couple round table sessions.

Where we can get together and we can talk about these challenges of hiring and retaining team members. How do we do it? How do we do it right? Who’s finding success? Sharing with each other. Those are the things that, it’s all part of PrimeTime. We don’t do that because it’s fun. We do it because they asked us to.

Rob Stott: Yeah. And something that’s been awesome to kind of follow as well, it’s happening with HR. It’s happening with Mr. Sandtner and the financial services team and SLN, Service Leaders Network. All of these things that are happening at PrimeTime are carrying throughout the rest of the year with those round tables and webinars that are happening. I remember years past, you’d think every six months it was like a mini six month reunion. And that’s where the conversations happen. They’re happening all year now. And that’s awesome to see, not just for what we’re doing and the services that are growing, but the engagement with the membership and how things, those conversations, are continuing to happen. So a lot of exciting things to look forward to. I’ll let you get to your meeting and I don’t want you to have another reason to be meeting with HR.

Mike Whitaker: No, we’re going to go get that taken care of because this is one I know the members are going to love. They’re going to get to see you at PrimeTime.

Rob Stott: Heck, yeah.

Mike Whitaker: We can’t wait to get down here.

Rob Stott: It’s going to be fun.

Mike Whitaker: If you want to register, if you’re a Nationwide member, nationwideprimetime.com, don’t forget to hop over there. Regionals meetings going to happen this fall, keep you out on Nationwide social media. I’m guaranteeing you Rob and his team will announce it.

Rob Stott: We may.

Mike Whitaker: And we will get out and do it again.

Rob Stott: We may. So, Mike, this has been a lot of fun catching up on these regional meetings, everything that we’ve got going on, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Mike Whitaker: Absolutely. Rob, thanks so much, man. Have a great day.

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