Most Dealers will know by now, or will have expected, that the annual AADA National Dealer Convention & Expo, traditionally held in September, has been postponed. AADA is pleased to announce that (all going well) the Convention will instead be held 15 – 17 March 2021, at the ICC Sydney.

AADA prides itself on devising topical and challenging themes for each Convention, and we think 2021’s is one of the most important and relevant yet. Our theme Essential Re-Invention – The Dealership of Tomorrow, will provide attendees with a blueprint for success in a post-disaster world.

Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, all was not well with our industry – as evidenced by two consecutive years of a fall in monthly new vehicle sales, General Motors’ decision to pull out of the Australian market, and Honda’s call to cut its Dealer numbers and move to an agency model.

On top of the record drought, unprecedented savage bushfires and destructive floods, it has made for a terribly difficult time for all businesses, but auto retailers in particular.

Our society has become more and more of an online culture over the years, and with most people confined to their homes for the foreseeable future, internet use is going through the roof. With that in mind, AADA is compiling a program designed to give Dealers an express education in digital marketing in order to adapt to a changed world.

It will no longer be enough for dealerships to have a token online presence. They must become expert in the methods, technologies and strategies required to bring customers through their digital front door.

There is a good chance that this enforced isolation will give consumers greater confidence in buying online. Many have been doing it for years for clothes, books, food and other products – who will be the first Australian Dealer to complete a sale entirely online? What kind of digital experience will you provide for prospective customers that gives them the confidence to go all the way through to purchase in a completely virtual manner. Even if buying a car sight unseen proves too much for most, we have already seen over the past several years a massive migration in buyer research methods from physically visiting several dealerships to letting their megabytes do the walking.

Designing the best, most interactive and complete experience of a vehicle will become possibly the most important tool in a Dealer’s kit. Not just photos, but video. Not just video, but 360-degree virtual walkarounds. Virtual test drives – it will be interesting to learn if there is a spike in Virtual Reality headset sales in this climate – and if so, who will harness that incredible technology to provide customers with an experience as close as possible to sitting in the car?

One thing many businesses and employees are learning from this crisis is that it is possible to work from home. Most business will come out the other side of COVID-19 with leaner operations; which Dealers will emerge with a pared-back, bricks-and-mortar presence, superseded by best practice, contactless, customer relations?

Making it easier for people to interact with your business will be the steepest learning curve for many. The world has changed, forever. But AADA is ahead of the curve, and in March 2021, we will ensure you are too.

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