Floor traffic at the expo seemed OK Saturday, which is usually the action day of the week, unless rain washes out all the golf some other day.
Still, it was hard to tell how many people on the floor were just tirekickers.
Everybody wanted to talk about the challenges facing General Motors and Ford Motor Co., and many asked if I think they will still be around at NADA convention time next year.
Will either GM or Ford need to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection before the UAW realizes it must help the automakers bring labor costs under control?
Some nice folks offered suggestions about how to make things better. So, in the spirit of helping people find solutions, here are three innovative ideas.
1. To solve the problem of excess inventory building up in storage lots at airports and racetracks, Karen Radley, COO of the Radley Automotive Group in Virginia, suggests taking the units that would otherwise be parked up against a fence in a dusty lot and putting them where they can do some good.
Why not store them on dealership lots - without drawing down on the dealer's floorplan account?
Good idea, Karen.
That way the factory wouldn't need to pay rent to store them, and the cars and trucks would be available where retail customers could see them - and maybe even buy one.
2. She also suggests that NADA might be able to help dealers with the rising cost of health care insurance for their employees by setting up an insurance pool, maybe something along the lines of NADA's retirement trust program.
Another good idea, Karen.
3. To solve the problem of having too many dealers in some markets, a consultant with a dirty mind suggests picking a D-day and staging a nationwide floorplan audit, in much the same way feds use a sting operation to break up illegal gambling rings.
If the factories play hardball, out-of-trust dealers would have few options but to cough up the franchise.
That's a bad idea.
In some places, margins are so thin that factories may have too many dealers out of trust. One in-the-know finance consultant says it could be more than 30 percent.
The best idea might be to let the dealers have fatter margins and work their way out of it.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]