At last year’s National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) meeting, I was among a lot of dealers who waited with bated breath for the group’s Mercer-led facilities study.
The study did a good job of highlighting the problems with factory facility mandates but it’s next-step conclusions left me, and a lot of dealers, wondering if NADA was really up for what amounts to a showdown.
Today, I have no doubts that NADA is up to this important task. I had the good fortune of meeting the new NADA President Peter Welch. As a fellow attorney, I can tell he’s got the right intellect and temerity to lead dealers through what could become the most challenging transition in the history of franchised dealerships. The key questions will be: How much is too much? At what point do factory facility requirements undermine a dealer’s ability to operate viable entrepreneurial businesses?
I’m pretty certain the answers to these questions will arrive in the not-too-distant future. Welch struck me as the perfect guy to lead and represent dealers through this incredibly loyalty-testing phase of our business.
My NADA time today also affirmed something I’ve mentioned here before: Our business is heading toward a more e-commerce-centric model than many dealers believe.
In particular, a workshop session today highlighted the impact the up-and-coming Gen Y buyers will have for a part of our business that, to many consumers, is a purposeful mystery.
The session’s upshot: Gen Y buyers are wired up in ways that make traditional F&I practices almost relevant. They’re hunting down financing from non-dealer sources—largely because credit unions and other lenders offer an online pre-approval process. In addition, the Gen Y buyers don’t respond well to traditional handle-the-objection-and-close sales tactics.
I liked how presenter Tony Dupaquier of American Financial and Automotive Services discussed what many of use regard as negotiation of vehicle service contract terms. “It’s payment relief with consequences,” he says.
All in all, the take-away was clear for me: Dealers will need to proactively shed a lot more online light into the darker corners of “the box.”
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