At the end of this week, we will begin covering the National Automobile Dealers Association's convention in Las Vegas.
Although it will be a time of friendship and hospitality, plenty of issues will be discussed publicly and privately.
And there are issues among dealers. There are differences between public and private, large and small, import and domestic, and urban and rural dealerships.
But that's one of the great things about the annual NADA convention. People can get together and sort out their differences. You don't always get the results that you are looking for; but you can always speak your mind, and others will listen.
Many folks will tell you that the retail business hasn't changed during the past half century. They're as wrong as can be.
After World War II, there wasn't an import or global industry. There weren't megadealers, much less publicly owned dealerships. Competition was less brutal. And let's face it: Although cars were a lot simpler, they also were a lot less reliable.
My local service station owner told me that when he started in the business, cold weather would mean that he'd get hundreds of calls for all sorts of malfunctions with the automobile. Today, it's always the battery, nothing else. Automobiles are far more reliable today.
A lot will be going on in Las Vegas.
There will be enough time to attend the parties and see the exhibits at the exposition, and there will be plenty of time to discuss the tough issues.
This year, dealers will talk to their factories about consumer satisfaction surveys and how they can be changed and improved. The surveys seem to have gotten out of hand, and they're no longer doing what anyone wants them to accomplish.
I'm glad I'm not Dave Power. After his comments about the franchise system last fall, he had better wear his best bulletproof clothing to NADA this year.
It will be an interesting week. That's what makes it so valuable.