FADA to NADA100 - A Report

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) story began in 1917 when 30 auto dealers traveled to the nation’s capital to convince Congress not to impose a luxury tax on the automobiles. They successfully argued that the automobile is a necessity of American life, not a luxury. From that experience, NADA was born. Today, NADA represents nearly 16,500 new-car and -truck dealers, with 32,500 franchises, both domestic and international. The purpose of NADA is to serve and represent the franchised new-car and -truck dealers of America, their management and employees.

NADA also hosts the largest and most prestigious automotive industry event of the year — the annual NADA/ATD Convention & Exposition — that attracts tens of thousands of attendees. The expo features hundreds of companies offering cutting-edge products and services, while the convention features prominent keynote speakers, educational workshops and dealer/manufacturer franchise meetings.

NADA was also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year along with the NADA Convention & Exposition at New Orleans from January 26th to 29th, 2017.

FADA President John Paul calling

President John Paul strongly felt that FADA and fellow dealers could greatly benefit from visiting and participating in the 2017 NADA Convention at New Orleans. So, with a huge effort of the core FADA team and many calls, WhatsApp messages, meetings, committees, negotiations and coordination, an eager and enthusiastic set of 35 dealers came up and formed the delegation representing FADA at NADA.

Fast Forward to January 2017

About 20 dealers from all over India landed at Atlanta on Sunday, 22nd January. The meet and greet on arrival, hotel transfers and hotel check-in were handled very professionally. The bonding amongst dealers, many of who were meeting each other for the first time, began instantly. Fighting jet-lag, all were ready to set out for a lovely Indian dinner.

After an early breakfast, all dealers set out for a day tour of the beautiful city of Atlanta. Atlanta is an "alpha" or "world city" exerting a significant impact upon commerce, finance, research, technology, education, media, art, and entertainment. Atlanta hosts the global headquarters of Fortune 500 corporations such as Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, AT&T Mobility, Chick-fil-A, UPS, and Newell-Rubbermaid. Once again it was great day of sightseeing and bonding amongst dealers.

Dealership Visits in Atlanta

The international affairs division of NADA was very supportive to arrange visits to dealerships for our delegation on 24th January. Dealers got a chance to visit two dealerships.

The first visit was to Peach State Freightliner, one of South-Eastern USA’s largest truck dealerships. The delegation members got a chance to do a complete walk-through the dealership facilities, sales, service & spares, followed by an informal interaction with the entire top management team of the dealership. The interaction lasted for nearly 2-hours where wide variety of topics including profitability, dealer-manufacturer relations, sales/service/spares strategies, etc. were discussed in great detail.

The next visit was to Autonation Toyota. AutoNation is the largest automotive retailer in the United States. It operates over 290 franchises across the USA, and has over 26,000 employees. It sells 35 different brands nationwide across 15 states. It is ranked #136 in the 2016 Fortune 500. The company has a large internet presence, offering its entire inventory for online searching. At this Toyota outlet of Autonation, The delegation members once again got a chance to do a complete dealership walk-through. The sales methods, particularly used cars, were quite a revelation. The lean team of sales & service was extremely productive and able to manage large volumes. Here again, the members had a free discussion with the dealership General Manager and his team and we were able to interact on a wide variety of topics including profitability, impact of internet and customer shopping behaviour, business development centre, HR practices, dealership compensation structures, pricing, etc.

New Orleans

On 25th January, the delegates took their respective flights to New Orleans, to be joined there by the remaining participants. After a sumptuous lunch, the group departed for a city tour of New Orleans. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras, dating to French colonial times. The city is often referred to as the "most unique” in the United States. It is worth a mention that the tour guide was a very attractive, most energetic and lively 80-year old lady, who made the sight-seeing very enjoyable and memorable.

NADA Convention & Exposition 26th to 29th January

These four days of the convention turned out to be extremely busy – with workshops, seminars, talks and the expo happening through the day. Each day turned out to be a day of new learning, experiences and practical knowledge. The delegates found many ideas to take back home and implement at their dealerships.

The keynote address of Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Co. was interesting and quite a revelation. The interactive session of Roger Penske was equally intriguing.

Dealers got a chance to attend quite of few workshops and the most interesting amongst so many were:

•    Turn Your Dealership into a Customer Experience Machine: Customer experience is mission critical, and every interaction your staff has with a customer can make or break it. From an Internet inquiry to a service call to your sales team, everyone in your dealership must be trained to offer world-class customer care.

•    Maximize Showroom Profits Through Advanced Sales Process and Engaging the Millennial Workforce: NADA reports that salesperson turnover is an astonishing 72 per cent a year, costing dealers $40,000 per lost employee. See how personnel strategies of companies outside the industry, like Enterprise and Costco, have yielded explosive bottom line growth and how select dealers have found new paths to managing their showrooms, increasing retention, and dropping turnover costs way below industry average.

•    Moving the 60 Per cent: The Secret to Creating a Powerful Team and a Dominant Business - Too often poor team results are due to over-dependence on top performers. See how, by focusing on the middle 60 per cent, you can get these consistent performers to increase performance, leading to more long-term success learn step-by-step review, coaching and follow up techniques that have helped dealerships improve and retain performance over the long term.

•    Dealership of Tomorrow 2025: Retail Automotive Trends for the Next Decade and Beyond - Researcher Glenn Mercer shared an overview of the findings of the recently completed Dealership of Tomorrow project launched by NADA earlier this year. The intent of the project is to provide NADA member dealers with insights into the developments that will likely alter the vehicle-retailing business over the next decade. The project cast the net wide to garner input from dealers (public and private), OEMs, attorneys, vendors, investors, and many other stakeholders in order to assemble a picture of what 2025 might look like.

The exposition included hundreds of vendors/suppliers of dealership related equipments, CRM/DMS systems, internet marketing, website designers, architects, consultants, lawyers, general suppliers, contractors, and many more.
While dealers benefitted from attending the convention and exposition, they had their share of fun. The members got a chance to attend the NADA100 Carnival at the Mardi Gras World, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The FADA gala dinner was yet another opportunity to bond with fellow dealers. The delegation members also visited the infamous Bourbon Street to experience the New Orleans night life. And not to forget, a chance to have Beignets with hot coffee at Café Du Monde, French Quarter.




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