The 100th anniversary of NADA did not disappoint. It captured the historic journey of the industry and pointed towards a bright, yet changing future. Speakers like Roger Penske of the Penske Corporation, Mark Fields, CEO of Ford, and Helio Castroneves, Indy 500 racer, talked about the importance of the dealership and its role in the future. Comedian Jim Gaffigan and the NADA 100 party brought humor and fun to what can be a focused and serious event. Throughout the event, two themes continued to emerge: how dealerships would change in the future, and the impact dealerships have on their communities.
Let’s Talk Future
Technology is rapidly changing the world around us, and the automotive space is not immune. Throughout NADA, different speakers shared their predictions for the future and encouraged dealers to start thinking about how they might be able to use these technological and cultural changes to their advantage. There was talk about autonomous vehicles, an emerging “shareconomy” and even Pepper robots.
Mark Fields, CEO of Ford, shared his philosophy on approaching the future, saying “you have to have one foot in today, one foot in tomorrow.” He acknowledged the changing demands of consumers and shared how the ownership model is transforming into the access model, with ride sharing and autonomous vehicles as prime examples. But while some dealers have feared becoming inconsequential due to these emerging technologies, Fields asserted that dealers should actually be the ones leading the change.
If ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles are tomorrow, then online retailing is today. Consumer demand has already shifted towards beginning the car-buying process online. Eighty-six percent of shoppers prefer a dealership that offers connected store capabilities like inputting your credit information online or selecting your vehicle and accessories. Dealers who embrace the trend will be at the forefront of a changing dealership model.
One of the ways that dealers can impact the changing model is through their involvement and influence in their local communities. Throughout NADA, there were many examples of dealers’ commitment to their communities and their willingness to give back. The TIME Dealer of the Year, Carl Swope, was chosen based on his impact on his local community. In addition, NADA highlighted their commitment to serving others through their initiative to help dealership families following the historic floods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We also experienced the generosity of many dealers. Their donations to our literacy campaign supporting two local schools have raised over $12,000 to date.
Between market changes and continued impact on local communities, dealerships continue to have a strong influence on the economy and the culture as a whole. Looking back on the past 100 years, it’s easy to see the impact dealers have had. When we look back 100 years from now, the same will be true.