The National Automobile Dealers Association celebrated its 100th anniversary with a rousing convention and a party that will be remembered for a long time.
But for me, the most striking part of the convention was the large number of vendors offering digital or electronic services to dealerships.
Indeed, it was exciting to see traditional vendors at NADA complemented by a huge number of new ones who are strictly in the software business.
As the business of the automobile retailer evolves, we are seeing companies that offer all sorts of interesting tools to run a dealership and serve customers.
It doesn't seem that long ago that a dealership's management was concerned only with the hardware that was in the store. That sure isn't true anymore. There are so many electronic tools available for today's dealer that the hardware often takes a back seat.
When you think that more customers are shopping and buying their cars without ever going into a dealership, you realize why dealerships are having to change to keep their customers happy. Customers today have totally different expectations than they did a decade ago. It is an entirely new world.
And the real challenge is that the customers of today don't come in one flavor. The modern dealership has to be ready for anything and everything. Whether it's a walk-in or online customer, you have to give them what they want, when they want it.
It is an exciting time to be in the retail business, but you have to be extremely flexible.
We are probably at a way point between the traditional way of doing business and whatever technology has for us tomorrow.
Whatever happens, it seems that America's auto retailers are ready.
One thing for certain, it's not going to be dull.
You may email Keith Crain at [email protected]