NADA has something for everyone
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
Besides warm temperatures, the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando will have plenty for everyone who attends.
Most people will be smiling because they had a very profitable 2012 -- and at a lower tax rate that allowed them to keep more of their revenue.
NADA will install a new dealer chairman and a new president to lead the staff. After a thorough search to replace Phil Brady as president, the association seems to have snared a winner in Peter Welch. He starts this week. Although Brady did a great job, it will be exciting to see someone with a different mind-set running NADA. There is always plenty to do to protect and advance the interests of new-car retailers in America.
The relationship between NADA and the manufacturers can always be improved. Although it has been better since the financial crisis, there are still issues that need to be resolved.
Trying to make sure the interests of all dealers in the United States are represented will be an issue at NADA as the disparity between large and small grows. Everyone deserves a seat at the table.
There are always serious issues in Washington and state legislatures. The re-election of President Obama could make it a lot tougher to get the American new-car dealer's interests represented. NADA probably will have a better time getting the message across to members of the House and then the Senate rather than the executive branch. It will be challenging for the new NADA executives.
Meanwhile, the customer's relationship with the dealer continues to evolve. Social media give dealers great opportunities if they learn how to use those new tools; otherwise it could be a disaster. There will be charlatans who profess to know all the secrets. So it's a time for caution.
The big public dealership groups such as Penske and AutoNation may well have a lot of best practices available for anyone who will listen.
This business doesn't stand still. That is what makes it so interesting. Franchised automobile and truck dealers are the strength of our economy. But to prosper, they need to understand the new demands of the customer.
The customer is still king. For factories, that should mean dealers are king as well.
You can reach Keith Crain at email@example.com.