Category Archives: NADA

Convention and Super Bowl Hangovers


M-OTPMarch2-1-2It’s almost more than my heart can stand. As I sit here late at night in my darkened office, the Super Bowl is over and I am emotionally drained and stressed. A week before the big game, Debbie and I returned home from the NADA Convention in New Orleans, optimistic but concerned. I’m still trying to digest all the things we saw and heard at the convention. There’s a lot on my mind.

I love pro football, but I didn’t watch for the majority of the season — that is, until I found out my Atlanta Falcons were favored in the NFC championship. When they beat Green Bay, I was gobsmacked with awe and amazement. If I had bet on the game, I’d have taken the Pack. But the Dirty Birds were flying high and it was game on!

The Super Bowl was an exhilarating experience for Falcons fans, at least for the first half. How do you blow a 25-point lead? The answer is simple: You get overconfident and lay down in the second half.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

The Lead-Gen Death Throes

They came dancing into our lives back in the mid-’90s and totally transformed our industry. In fact, I recall the first time I saw Autobytel exhibiting at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)’s convention. I shook my head and said, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

Well, it did happen, and we all saw a growing parade of competitors in a vicious dogfight to dominate the space. My hat’s off to the few who prevailed.

The real game-changer, however, was Scott Painter and TrueCar. Painter’s business model reflected his thinly disguised contempt for car dealers. Unlike other lead-generation providers, whose primary purpose was to connect car buyers with dealers, TrueCar’s main objective was to set prices and broker deals at a loss for the dealers. We all know how that worked out.

But hundreds of other companies followed TrueCar’s lead and got into the brokering business. But the landscape is rapidly changing, and the paradigm has shifted enough to loosen their stranglehold on dealers.

Read the whole article here on F&I and Showroom.

The Convention and the Big Game


M-OTPMarch-1I am writing this month’s column a few short days after the conclusion of the best, biggest and most upbeat and optimistic National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention I have attended in 10 years — and several hours after the most incredible, competitive, edge-of-your-seat Super Bowl in recent memory. What a rush!

Now, like many of you, when the Alpha Dawg tunes into the Super Bowl, I pay close attention to the new crop of car commercials. Will they be effective, memorable or just a bit too cute?

More on that in a moment. First, let’s take a closer look at the 2015 NADA Convention & Expo and some of the ideas — fresh and stale — that floated among the halls of San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Read the whole post here on AutoDealerMonthly.

We are Entering an Era of CRM Domination

Customer relationship management process

Customer relationship management processThird party Vendors are waking up to their worst nightmare. The party is almost over and we’re turning the lights on. They are in denial reminiscent of ‘Newspaper Advertising’ a few decades ago. Newspaper was the juggernaut, dominant, over-bearing, dictating, necessary, and way over-priced. At the end of the Newspaper Era, they were screaming they were still effective and still relevant as they could no longer prove heir worth or justify their extravagant high-prices. The Newspaper Advertising moguls were sucked down into the tarpits wheezing their last wheezy gasps, still proclaiming their relevance.

NOW – The Paradigm is shifting again. The third-party vendors can no longer justify their rdiculous high prices and can’t document any real results. They’re No Longer selling results, they can’t. They don’t have them to show. So they misdirect with VDPs and SRPs and QRXs instead of showing us real business. AND, they tell the dealers if you’re not selling, it’s your employees fault.

WHAT CHANGED? Well several things changed.

FIRST OF ALL, the consumers changed. Dealers websites are smarter and more reactive. VDPs need to become stickier and conversion is ‘king’.

SECONDLY, Mobile Happened! Consumers are engaging on handhelds and tablets and devices other than desktops. They are able to USE Google and other avenues to directly connect with the dealers. Real time transactions favor the dealerships, not the vendors.

THIRDLY, Dealers became educated in dealing with the modern consumer and they don’t feel hostility on our Websites. CHAT is huge for conversion.

AND FOURTH, The “CLICK TO CALL” Google option puts them in touch with us immediately. It’s probably one of the greatest things that’s happening to fuel the shift. TEXT MARKETING and PERSONALIZED VIDEOS from the Dealerships are humanizing our efforts. People still like to deal with people. ONLY the Vendors see advantages to dehumanizing the processes. We are NOT DEVO.

THE CRM Companies that own website development will inherit the business. They become the DASHBOARD that controls the Dealers’ Marketing… Adwords, Social Media Strategies, Everything the Dealership does to market. The CRM creates it, coordinates with the website, and measures and adjusts the campaigns. THE CRM companies allow the dealer to run their campaigns without all of the slander and defamation the vendors use to bring us down and make themselves look like the savior from us. Reputation will be better and profits will increase.

I have always advocated a CRM-Driven Culture in the Dealerships, now the worm is turning and the third-party vendors are scrambling like Newspaper executives did several decades ago. I doubt they’ll go extinct totally, but their value in our marketing plans will become second-tier and optional.

FOOTNOTE – The revolutions here and they are screaming bloody murder because they all see it coming. Ask Hunter Swift and others, the CRMs are gearing up to take over the marketing. I just published this article/blog on Social Media a half hour ago and it’s already viral. Three CRM Companies and Website Vendors have already, in just a half hour, asked me for the permission to reprint and distribute at the convention.


Staying Power

Dealer Handing Keys

Erosion can affect every aspect of your dealership, from staff and processes to the very foundations of your business. The Alpha Dawg wants you to keep fighting.

In every training situation I have ever conducted, I have repeated the same words to every audience: “In the car business, we don’t have a ‘knowing’ problem, we have a ‘doing’ problem.” It’s amazing how many times dealers, managers and experienced sales professionals will sit in my seminars and say, “I knew that.”

Of course they did. Regardless of what they’re saying, nobody is actually reinventing the car business. I spend more time reminding my students about things they should already be doing than teaching things they don’t know. There is still a basic, proven road-to-the-sale process. There are things customers say and things we say in response.

Through the years, the process has evolved and modernized to become more customer-friendly and transparent. New technology has made more information available and the manufacturers have compressed the profit per unit to unconscionably low levels. Just because our sales departments know how to sell cars, there is no guarantee they’re doing what they know they should.

Read the full article on AutoDealer Monthly here.

Auto Dealer Monthly: The Green Leaves of Summer


I was watching television last week, sort of aimlessly flipping through the menu of channels, all 800 of them. You know the drill. I usually stop when I reach the upper tiers with programs from India and China. Then I start going the other way until I reach Channel 3. It’s hard to find good TV these days, even with all the choices, unless you’re a big fan of “Duck Dynasty,” “Honey Boo Boo” or three channels’ worth of “Law & Order” reruns.

In the course of my endless, mindless journey across the vast expanse of the Comcast universe, I stumbled upon two different versions of the same movie, “The Alamo,” playing at the same time on adjacent channels. Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton were playing Sam Houston and Davy Crockett on one channel, while John Wayne and Richard Widmark starred as Crockett and Jim Bowie on the other.

I had watched a few minutes of the Duke’s version when my thoughts turned inward. I remembered how the theme song from that old Alamo movie had always moved and haunted me. I have always thought of it as one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing songs I’ve ever heard. You can find it by searching for “The Green Leaves of Summer by Dimitri Tiomkin” on YouTube, but mark my words: Once you hear it, it stays with you for days.

Read the whole article here at Auto Dealer Monthly

NADA in New Orleans: Let the Good Times Roll… Again


There’s something magical and mystical about New Orleans. I lived there for a year once. I was only 20 at the time, and every day was an adventure. Of course, I celebrated my 21st birthday on Bourbon Street. Young, dumb, intoxicated and … Well, you get the picture.

Every fourth year, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) rolls back around to “The Big Easy” and I find myself filled with anticipation. The New Orleans conventions are always the best.

I’ve attended every single one since 1987. I remember conventions in Atlanta and Dallas before they settled on the rotation between San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas and New Orleans. San Francisco is okay, but I never cared much for the conventions in Orlando. I am totally burned out on Vegas.

But I still love New Orleans, where the only rule is to laissez les bon temps rouler — let the good times roll! From the food, to the atmosphere, to the rich history and heritage, the city screams “party.” And when the car dealers come to town, we do exactly that. It’s fitting that we return to New Orleans for this year’s convention, when our industry is riding high and times are good. Some of us remember the last time we were here, when the mood was less optimistic.

Read the whole article here at Auto Dealer Monthly.

NADA Convention Keynote Speaker Pick Raises Ire

I’m paralyzed with disbelief that the National Automobile Dealers Assn. has scheduled Hillary Rodham Clinton as the keynote speaker at its annual convention in January.

Let me make it crystal clear: This is not an attack, but rather a criticism of an organization I love but I feel has lost its way on many levels.

Before some dealer readers knee-jerk in response to what I say, consider this: The NADA is your national organization. It is your first line of defense against legislative and special-interest threats to the franchised dealer system. We need to support and strengthen NADA, and if necessary, reinvent it.

This is not about Hillary Rodham Clinton, her philosophy, politics or qualifications. We all have an opinion of her. On my Facebook page, I posted my opposition to her speaking at the convention. That triggered nearly 200 posts in less than an hour. Liberals and conservatives, many of them dealer principals, began arguing.

Originally posted on WardsAuto. Read the whole article here.

Unconventional Convention Observations

nadaDebbie and I have attended every National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention since 1987, and I have given a speech or conducted a workshop at almost every one of them.

Since I first walked into a dealership in 1976 and told the sales manager I’d like a job as a car salesman, I’ve seen a lot of changes, especially in recent years.

Some of these changes have been natural while others are being forced by auto makers and vendors furthering their own agenda.

I always smile when they piously point to the customer experience as an excuse for their actions. You’ll hear buzz words like ‘transparency’ and other new-speak.

This year’s NADA convention in Orlando, FL, was exciting for me because of the high-energy attitude and dealer optimism rising like the phoenix from the ashes of despair from the last five years.

Read the whole article at WardsAuto.

One Last Thrill

L-1964FordAd-LeadArtIt was slightly after dark on a September night when two buddies and I climbed the fence behind Duval Ford in Jacksonville, Fla. We hopped over with our fingers crossed, hoping no dogs were hanging around back there.

No, we weren’t burglars or vandals. The year was 1964, and we were just three high school kids trying to get a sneak peek at the new Ford Mustang. Every dealership in the country taped newspapers to their showroom windows so you couldn’t see inside, and the new inventory was parked behind the dealerships covered with tarps.

A year earlier, when the ’63 Corvette coupe — the one with the split rear window — debuted, I climbed up the side of a car hauler at a truck stop just to lift the cover and sneak a peek at the front end of the redesigned ’Vette.

Every year, new-car introductions, no matter the manufacturer, were an event — a celebration shrouded in strict security, secrecy and mystery.

Read the full article in F&I Showroom.