ORLANDO, Fla. -- William Bradshaw, the new chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, assured dealers that he will focus on improving industry relations, particularly with troubled automakers.
In his inaugural address at the NADA convention, Bradshaw acknowledged that dealers will face tough challenges this year, particularly as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors struggle financially.
"The restructuring plans of some automakers, with their streamlining of operations and the announced introduction of many desirable new products, are very encouraging and indicate that they plan to be here for the long haul," said Bradshaw. "But we also have some concerns.
"How long will it take for the new marketing direction and new products to catch on? Will cost be transferred down to the dealers? What does our future look like? These concerns are real."
Bradshaw, whose dealerships are in South Carolina, said he will promote dialogue with automakers to ensure that dealers can give input before the factories set policies. He said NADA would emphasize in those discussions that any efforts to streamline dealer networks should be driven by market forces - not manufacturer edict.
"Manufacturers need to do what they do best - design and build exciting products," he said. "And let us do what we do best - sell and service cars and trucks and take care of our customers."
Bradshaw outlined other top issues:
- NADA will continue efforts to prevent title fraud. "We will continue to urge insurance companies to release total-loss information, not only about flood vehicles but wrecked vehicles as well," he said. The association will lobby for federal legislation to eliminate title washing.
- NADA will continue to push for the permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. "This is a prime example of double taxation, and it should be eliminated," he said.
- The association will step up efforts to raise public awareness of career opportunities at auto dealerships. NADA will organize another career week. In October more than 700 dealers in 44 states hosted career events at their dealerships.
"Our industry has a turnover rate of 51 percent among salespeople and 42 percent among service people," said Bradshaw. "We can and we must do better."
A new Harris survey sponsored by Automotive Retailing Today found more than 100,000 job openings at dealerships around the country. That includes more than 40,000 sales positions and almost 40,000 technician jobs.
"We are lagging behind the competition for top talent," said Bradshaw. "We need a fresh approach - one that focuses on public outreach."
You may e-mail Donna Harris at [email protected]