Today everything starts with Google, and this year’s AADA NADA Study Tour to San Francisco in California was no exception.

Our hosts at Googleplex (a sprawling 16,700m2 campus designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects in 2005) welcomed us with yummy lattes, cappuccinos, muffins and more before we started our tour.

While most of us were impressed by this facility, we were completely stunned hearing what the company provides for its employees.

Our guide told us that she and her colleagues never go hungry; the company serves free pizza, salads, tacos, vegetarian dishes, pastas and deserts at one of the many cafeterias and delis spread across the entire complex.

Flower power

On our way to the conference room we were invited to smell the whimsical Alfa Flowers and were blown away when they magically changed colours to match the fun moods and emotions we expressed.

Our guide also mentioned the recreational facilities available to employees, including bowling alleys, swimming pools, dance studios, gyms, tennis and basketball courts, massage rooms and nap pods.

Then there are the brightly coloured bicycles and e-bikes Googlers use to get around Googleplex. “We just jump on the closest one and pedal to where we need to go, then leave it for the next person.” said our guide.

The next stop was the conference room, where our guide walked us through an informative presentation of how partnering with Google would help Dealers better understand their individual markets and help them sell more cars.

Note for those who are tempted to apply for a job with Google: the company receives more than one million applications a year and only 0.5 per cent are actually employed.

Then it was back on the bus for lunch and another enlightening presentation from the Gumtree team at eBay in San Jose.

While eBay’s HQ may not have the same wow factor as Google’s, it was still pretty impressive – as was our lunch.

Their pitch to us covered how to best utilise the assets available to Dealers using the combined resources of eBay motors, Gumtree and Marketplaats.

Oh what a Sunnyvale feeling!

From eBay we travelled to one of San Francisco’s most successful dealerships, Sunnyvale Toyota in Sunnyvale.

Sunnyvale Toyota is part of the Price Simms Auto Group, which sells 21 different automotive brands in seven locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

General Manager, Mike Shum, explained to the group how they sell around 600 new and used vehicles per month, using their sophisticated online process as well as traditional on-the-floor-sales methods.

Then the 35-strong AADA group and the 20,000-plus US Dealers and industry executives were invited to the official J. D. Power “Escape from Alcatraz” NADA Welcome Reception at the plush San Francisco Marriot Marquis.

This fun evening was a great way to kick off the Convention, catch up with colleagues and make new friends while enjoying cocktails, delicious finger food and immersing ourselves in the history of Alcatraz, a former maximum security prison known as ‘The Rock’.

The greatest show on earth

Over 500-plus companies showcased thousands of products in the three main halls spread across three blocks and 35 hectares in SOMA (South of Market).

Exhibitors included OEMs Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Ford. Other product categories represented covered Service and Parts, Crash Repair Equipment, New and Used Car Sales, Finance, IT, Accessories and Marketing.

Commenting on the size and scope of the NADA Expo, Motorweb’s Paul Hardiman said, “Very informative, wide range of products with multiple providers to choose from.”

Of special interest to the writer were the SpinCar and Snap21 booths. Both were Dealer magnets generating exceptional sales and success, with SpinCar winning the 2019 NADA Automotive Website Award for Website Merchandising for the third consecutive year.

With so much activity in the Expo it was hard finding time to attend some of the workshop sessions, which included Fixed Operations, Human Resources, Dealer/Executive, Legal & Regulatory and, of special interest to me, two Marketing sessions.

‘Five Digital Marketing Myths That Can Hurt Your Bottom Line’ was presented by True Car’s Kerri Wise, who firstly tackled a number of Dealer marketing myths that create inefficiencies in their marketing spend, and then identified alternate strategies aligned with actual consumer behaviour.

The second workshop, ‘Cutting Through The Clutter’, was presented by Paul Caldwell, Partner at CK Advertising, a TraDigital Agency based in Florida. Paul discussed how digital and traditional advertising can work hand-in-hand to deliver the results Dealers demand in today’s ultra-competitive environment.

WES LUTZ special guest at International Relations Dinner

In the evening we attended the AADA Gumtree International Relations Dinner at up-market Morton’s The Steakhouse on Union Square, considered by many respected food writers to be California’s premier steakhouse.

Our special guest was Wes Lutz, a 40-year retail automotive veteran and 2018 NADA Chairman. Wes highlighted the challenges facing the auto industry, such as self-driving cars, ride hailing and EVs. Other distinguished guests included seven former NADA Chairmen as well as numerous international visitors.

Saturday morning was the last opportunity to visit the NADA Expo, check out the booths missed on the previous day and participate in more workshop sessions.

One that particularly interested me was ‘Seven Futurist Social Media Trends for Success in 2019’ by Joey Little from AutoAlert. He examined the seven social media marketing and content trends that will be prevalent in 2019, how they will directly impact on Dealerships and ultimately increase sales through communication and branding.

New NADA Chairman calls on Dealers to get behind the association

In the afternoon everyone moved to the NADA General Session in the Moscone South Ballroom where Wes Lutz, the 2018 NADA Chairman, passed over the Gavel of Leadership to Charles Gilchrist, the new 2019 NADA Chairman.

In his first address to delegates Gilchrist, a Dealer from Texas, urged every Franchised Dealer to get involved in NADA, saying that the auto retail sector needs engaged and active association members “now more than ever.”

While Gilchrist’s address was all business, Emmy award-winning actor and comedian Dana Carvey’s was all fun, as he kept us entertained with impersonations of US politicians and Presidents, hilarious jokes and entertaining stories from his acting career.

As someone on the way out of the Ballroom was heard to say “Carvey is one funny dude.”

Australia Day celebrations

Then it was time to celebrate Australia Day at the Golden Gate Tap Room.

The party, which was sponsored by Carsales and Pentana Solutions, was held on the top floor of the three-storey Tap Room – a massive adult playground and boutique brewery located on Union Square.

The room features pool tables, shuffle ball and two walls of giant TV screens showing snowboarding, basketball, NFL, baseball and more.

This final event of the AADA NADA Study Tour, hosted by Corporate Blue, was a great way to relax and exchange ideas, catch up with friends, have a beer and enjoy some delicious food.

John Fountain of Saleslogs summed up the evening and tour brilliantly when he commented: “Had a fantastic time networking with people from the industry.”

AADA NADA Show 2020 Study Tour – Las Vegas

For information about the AADA NADA Show 2020 Study Tour to Las Vegas, 13-16 February, 2020 contact:
Patrick Tessier
P: (03) 9576 8900

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