Canadian auto dealers are waking up to the opportunity - and threat - posed by the Internet.
The newly elected chairman of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association says one of his top priorities is to help dealers adapt to head-spinning changes in the retail world.
Automakers see the Internet as a marketing tool they can use to increase their involvement in vehicle retailing, said association Chairman Steve O'Regan. To protect their franchises, dealers will have to use the Web to their own advantage.
'Dealers who resist change are not going to survive too long,' O'Regan said. 'It isn't all bad news; there will be a lot of opportunities, but it will require some changing attitudes.'
O'Regan, who runs a multifranchise dealership based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, said the most vulnerable dealers are those in smaller markets. The dealers' association must protect its 3,000 members as best it can. More important, it must help dealers adjust to the new environment.