When Bob Maguire looks at the sales slowdown, the encroachment of dot-coms and the erosion of factory-dealer relations, he sees opportunities.
Industry observers often have underestimated the resiliency of new-car dealers, said Maguire, the new chairman of NADA and president of Maguire Automotive Group in Bordentown, N.J. You don't have to look hard to find examples of dealers defying dire predictions, he said.
Maguire told a session of the NADA convention that only a year ago the threat of factory stores and online brokers dominated dealers' thoughts at the 2000 NADA convention in Orlando, Fla.
'Factory stores have faded - our customers are more satisfied than ever,' Maguire said. 'In a few short years, the Internet has changed from a threat to a resource.'
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors backed off plans to operate factory-controlled stores during last year's convention. And dealers have taken control of e-commerce by using their own Internet sites to produce sales leads.
'The customers have spoken. They want to use the Internet for information and preliminary research, but what they really want is a dealership in the community that will stand behind their new car or truck,' Maguire said.
Sure, there are some troubling industry relations issues. GM dealers want a fair shake from Oldsmobile and Ford dealers still are rankled by the Blue Oval program. But Maguire believes NADA has made strides in industry relations and will continue to do so with dealer input.