Lessons from NADA: Meeting Challenges with Innovation
NADA 2018 —what a whirlwind! This year was packed full of big announcements, exciting celebrations and a general “let’s get it done” attitude. Amidst all of the conversations swirling about NADA, a few key themes arose that will have a major impact on the future of our industry.
Innovate, Innovate, Innovate
There was one theme that radiated throughout the entire week: innovation. Not only were many companies introducing new innovations, but the industry as a whole also seemed to be bursting at the seams with a drive to innovate. At the Automotive Retail Forum, I had to ask my colleague if “innovation” was the theme of the event because every speaker addressed it. They spoke of the need for the industry to find new solutions to their problems, and challenged the auto retail industry to disrupt the status quo. Tripp Rackley of Clutch Technologies added: “Innovation and disruption are simply a matter of perspective. When you’re the one making the change, you’re the innovator. If change happens to you, it becomes disruption.” He laid out a challenge for the industry to work to become the former. He also called for the industry to be bold, test and be willing to make mistakes. He shared that we should constantly be testing new solutions and be willing to let the car “run out of fuel” so that we don’t let the plane (or our industry as a whole) run out of fuel.
Erik Day, chief financial officer and partner ofWarren Henry Auto Group added that “the future belongs to those who prepare.” As a company, we’ve been listening to our customers and the industry. We understand the hurdles they face and we are committed to solving for them. We knew the industry was ready for something big and transformative. We had been working behind the scenes for months, and at NADA, we were thrilled to introduce the Fortellis Automotive Commerce Exchange™ platform. Fortellis allows developers to collaborate on a global scale. It gives them the ability to test the new solution right from the platform, and then provides a place for them to sell their solution directly to dealers. It’s a seamless way for developers all over the world to integrate their solutions, and allows them to do it faster than ever. This agnostic platform invites the entire industry to unite to address many of the problems our industry faces, and gives dealers the freedom and flexibility to choose lasting solutions that are unique to their business.
We also announced a handful of new partnerships, all focused on finding better ways to help dealers serve their customers and continue to drive the innovation forward.
It was clear that everyone at NADA 2018 was thinking about what the future might hold, and where the automotive retail industry fits within that. The second day of NADA’s general sessions focused on the future of personal transportation, autonomous vehicles, and technology. The keynote speaker on Saturday was John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, a self-driving technology company.
Krafcik demonstrated the importance of autonomous vehicles and their ability to give anyone the chance to get to where they need to go. The future of personal and public transportation could be easily accessible to all, despite any disabilities that a driver might have, which could be a game changer for the auto industry. Dealers will play an essential role in providing the public with a mode of transportation and, even more so, freedom.
Following Krafcik’s session, we were also introduced to NADA Chairman Wes Lutz and his vision for the future. Lutz spoke about the future and what Uber might mean for the future of car sales and dealerships. “Just because a new system pops up, doesn’t mean the ‘old one’ is dead. Just because technology changes, it doesn’t mean that a car’s usefulness is gone. At almost every turn, dealers have faced challenges—some major ones. But our troubles didn’t define us. How we responded to them did.”
Ride sharing has been a cause for concern in the automotive industry, as fears arise that car ownership will decline. Lutz assured the audience that even with the introduction of ride sharing applications, the need for car dealerships isn’t going anywhere and car ownership continues to break record global sales.
A Winning Attitude
All of this forward-looking innovation will go nowhere if we don’t have strong leaders with winning attitudes. At the Automotive Retail Forum, Don Flow, chairman & CEO of Flow Automotive Companies shared the three tenets needed to be a strong leader: preserve, improve and innovate. To continue to drive the industry forward, we must preserve what’s working, improve where we can and have an eye to the future.
Nick Saban, Head Coach of Alabama Football, closed out the first day by sharing his thoughts on what it takes to win. He reminded dealers that the most important thing is your mindset and that it takes the discipline to execute every day. Finally, he added that we must make success personal — articulating to each individual what’s in it for them so that everyone can pursue their own goals and ultimately, help the team (or industry) rise as each person does.
This year, NADA was buzzing with change. We walked away inspired and are ready to continue to build the future of automotive. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings.