In This Issue:
2010 NADA Convention & Expo Wrap-Up
Rattled & Cracked: Toyota Tries to Regroup
I went to NADA looking to see what affect a tough industry year had on the convention as a whole. And, I walked away with a few key focal points.
Attendance: Quantity & Quality
Although the show floor in the vast Orange County Convention Center might have appeared thinly attended, it was much better than expected considering the weather challenges and the President's weekend timing. I reached out to the badges with the brown ribbons, the dealers, to get an idea of what brought them to the convention this year. Their answers were varied but revealing.
There were the perennials who've been coming for years; there were a few GM and Chrysler dealers who've lost a franchise or two (one who lost four and now only has Chevy); there was one couple who will add a franchise in the near future; another couple who came with the single purpose of finding a dedicated financing partner for their used car business, and various others. Many of these dealers expressed that the digital side of the business has raced further away from them.
There were the folks who've been going to conferences for a while, learning what they SHOULD be doing, yet NOT implementing ideas and products when they get back to their stores.
And then there were the folks that I found MOST interesting to talk to, folks who haven't attended a conference for 7-10 years but felt it was imperative to get involved or risk their business over the next couple of years. Clearly, 2009 opened the eyes and minds of dealers.
The Vendors & Buzz of Today
No doubt, the vendors were on their game. I couldn't help notice how wonderfully appointed and setup some of the booths were. Even some of the smaller exhibitors had breathtaking interactive demo capabilities and video streams to and from their booths to their sites. What was most noteworthy, however, was who was getting the action. Overwhelmingly, vendors with Internet products to help and enhance a dealer's Internet operations had the lion's share of activity. No other segment was close, a noticeable shift from prior years. Vendors did also say that they found dealers more engaged and some indicated that they gathered more dealer contacts this time around than in years!
Search, Video, Reputation Management and Social Media continue to be the top buzz words. The discussions continued in and out of workshops, "What is the best approach to weave these items together to get tangible results?" A question which Edmunds' Dealer Insight has pointed out, is "Are proficiencies in these areas more of a retention process than a new lead generation process?"
The Forecast for 2010 & Beyond
Surprisingly, the air at the convention was very upbeat. The NADA Press Conference indicated an upwards revision to the new car sales forecast and that the credit markets were slowly starting to open up.
There was definitely a more serious tone to the interactions between vendors and dealers. Vendor to vendor collaboration discussions also seemed more serious in nature. In years past attendees mostly ran through the floor, got a bag of brochures and knick-knacks, ran back to the blackjack tables, and implemented little when back at the dealership. This week's workshops, which had been sparsely attended over the last few years, were standing-room only. Dealers who attended were quick to mention that they would be implementing what they'd learned, and they weren't ashamed to say that they had to.
My overwhelming sense is that most attendees left the convention feeling that the worse was behind them, and although the business may never be the same, being a franchise automobile dealer will be a good business once again.
John Giamalvo, Director, Strategic Marketing