NADA chairman urges auto dealers to maintain their identities in 2020

NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist delivers his keynote speech Saturday in Las Vegas
NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist delivers his keynote speech Saturday in Las Vegas | YouTube

The National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) convention in Las Vegas focused on offering opportunities for networking, learning about trends and what’s to come, as well as what has happened over the previous year in the automotive industry.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, day two of the event, attendees heard from 2019 NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist during his keynote speech, as well as from other industry leaders. Gilchrist reminded attendees of the issues that NADA has fought over the past year, from tariffs to new-vehicle affordability and an auto-technician shortage. Gilchrist also urged car dealers to fight for their franchise identities.

“Every dealer has a tremendously bright future ahead," Gilchrist said. "Don’t let others define who you are. Hold strong to your identity.”

Attendees also heard from Jodie Teuton, outgoing chairman of American Truck Dealers (ATD). She spoke of ATD’s efforts to repeal the 12-percent federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks, and urged dealers to work together.

“Just like trucks require preventive maintenance, so do our advocacy efforts," Teuton said. "We need to be forward-thinking. We have to keep ahead of possible problems, to prolong our time and have the proper maintenance to get us to the next cycle.”

NADA’s Chief Economist Patrick Manzi presented discussion of dealership employment trends with J.D. Power Vice President of Vehicle Valuations and Analytics Jonathan Banks. Banks said that 2020 would be the best year for the used-car market, with a good inventory level and younger buyers.

Indeed.com’s Tina Amelchenko also joined Manzi to discuss how the record low 3.6-percent unemployment rate affects the automotive sector.

Manzi noted that automotive employers are getting creative in order to attract and keep their employees. Flexible schedules, time off and better pay plans are just a few of the tactics they are using, he said. 

“They’re changing their policies to be more in line with the next generation of workers,” Manzi said.

In another panel, Brian Benstock, owner of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in Woodside, New York, and Lissette Gole, Google’s Head of Industry, Automotive Retail, discussed how consumer trends have changed and how Google has helped Benstock’s dealerships. The discussion centered on how dealers can align their marketing efforts in order to reach more individuals and drive them to individual dealerships. Benstock said his dealership embraced YouTube and increased customer visits from 16,000 in 2018 to 32,000 visits in 2019.

Panels on Saturday included:

  • “Understanding your Customer: The Real Shift in Buying,” presented by Joe St. John of AutoFi   
  • “What Women Want: A Perspective on the Automotive Industry,” presented by Janet Barnard of Cox Automotive; Liza Myers Borches of  Carter Myers Automotive; Barbara Cox, Woman of the Year; Hannah Gearhart, a senior at Northwood University and Barbara Cox Memorial Scholarship recipient; and Lori Wittman, also representing Cox Automotive.
  • "NADA Human Capital 20 Group," presented by Adam Robinson of Hireology, and Kelly Smith.  
  • "Career Pathing for Profitability Across Your Growing Dealer Group," presented by Joel Dalbo of NADA.
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Dealers Election Action Committee of the National Automotive Dealers Association 8400 Westpark Drive McLean, Virginia 22102