The theme of the AADA 2019 National Dealer Convention & Expo is ‘2020 + Beyond’.

What for many of us once seemed a distant future timeline is now less than a year away. The future is now!
What do we mean by 2020 + Beyond? We’re not talking about The Jetsons and flying cars, we’re talking about succession planning, about setting your dealership up to cope with new rules of operation in F&I, about modernising your workforce to reflect society and your customers.

We’re talking about arming yourself with the latest knowledge, training, products and services that are going to ensure your business remains at the cutting edge. We mean protecting yourself against threats to our business model, adapting to changing paradigms and building a stronger future for all franchised auto Dealers.

In order to prepare for this quickly-arriving tomorrow, AADA has compiled a program featuring a stellar line-up of experts on the big issues facing our industry. One of the key pillars of this year’s Convention is the panel program, with four sessions featuring industry leaders tackling some hot topics.

Our industry is changing rapidly, and as car retailers we need to keep up with that change if not stay in front of it. We can have confidence in the franchise model, but we must understand that other factors, including consumer behavior and how they engage with us, are changing.

Dealerships today have two front doors: the conventional one that opens out onto the street, and the online one through which so many potential customers now enter. Improving our engagement at this juncture will be a focus of this year’s Convention.

We are in a transition period in automotive retailing. We have witnessed the demise of print, and the rise of online marketing. Some Dealers have adjusted to this new world with gusto, others have been slower to react.

Dealers can no longer afford to sit back and wait for customers to come to them. We need to engage with them where they ‘live’, which these days is largely online. There is so much data available on our customers, and it is not hard to harvest it and put it into use. When a customer buys a car from you, that is an opportunity to discover their preferred social media channel: do they use Facebook, or are they more of a Twitter person? Do they use Snapchat? Instagram? Find this out and you can individually tailor marketing to suit their social media habits. Fish where the fish are!
The point of sale is also a great opportunity to farm reviews and referrals, which are worth their weight in marketing gold. People trust their friends and family far more than any advertising or marketing campaign. A reputation-management tool like Snap21 generates reviews with photos and testimonials, and a third of customers share their Snap21 experience with their hundreds of online friends.

With customers conducting most of their research online, a product such as SpinCar, which gives them a virtual walkaround of any vehicle, takes automotive photography to the next level. Customers decide what car they will buy before they ever set foot in a dealership, so the more information and ‘feel’ for the car you can give them, the more likely they are to buy from you. It won’t be long until they are taking a virtual test-drive from the comfort of their own loungeroom – will it be one of your cars?

2020 is around the corner. The future is now. These and countless other innovative products and services will be on display at the Expo, making the free Expo Open Day a must-attend for Dealers and their staff. With over 80 exhibitors, all you need is one take-home idea to make your visit worthwhile.

Automotive retailers are massive contributors to the national economy. We create $65 billion in turnover per year, and collect more than $2.4 billion in taxes. Our relationship with government, and strengthening our ongoing partnership with the manufacturers with whom our futures are inextricably linked, are keys to our future prosperity.

There is so much happening around our industry: the franchise code, the need for diversity, succession planning, changes to F&I departments, Return on Investment, used cars. 2020 + Beyond is almost upon us. The future is now, which is why you cannot afford to miss arguably the most important AADA National Dealer Convention & Expo yet.

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