The annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention kicks off this weekend, and you can bet that as America's dealers flock to Orlando, Fla., they're packing more than clothes and suntan lotion.
They'll also be toting a long laundry list of concerns and issues.
Some years, when the industry is doing well, NADA is almost like a love fest. Oh, sure, there are always issues such as warranty charge-backs, new-vehicle allotments and incentive audits to keep things from being too chummy. And when dealers close the door at the individual make meetings, it's not unusual for some good, old-fashioned give and take among dealers and their factory reps.
But it's become a little tougher for dealers to make money these days despite light-vehicle sales that are on pace for another 17-million year. About a quarter of U.S. new-car dealers are losing money.
So this year, dealers are looking for a few answers and some reassurance from their factories.
At the top of the list are concerns about pricing plans that limit margins on new cars. And there are the usual head-banging issues that are exacerbated when margins are thin or times are tough.
On top of that, dealers still face a nationwide shortage of 30,000 trained technicians to work in dealership service departments.
Every brand has its own specific issues, but most dealers say they want more, new hot products and higher-quality vehicles.
That ought to make for an intense couple of days.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]