From Friday 14 to Monday 17 February, NFDA attended the NADA Show 2020 alongside dealer members and colleagues from around the world.

With hundreds of exhibitors, informative workshops and learning session, this year’s NADA Show provided attendees with an ideal opportunity to gain a better understanding of the US market and meet with colleagues from around the world including several NFDA counterparts. In particular, we met with the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and it was interesting to see that Australian dealers are experiencing similar issues to the UK in the F&I sector.

The workshops covered topics ranging from the ‘future of car buying’ to the ‘perfect service department’ as well as the habits and business culture that drive success.

On Friday, we had insightful discussions at the NADA International Roundtable. The roundtable was attended by Peter Welch, NADA President and CEO, Charlie Gilchrist, 2019 NADA Chairman and a number of industry representatives. One of the main issues on the agenda was the ‘dealership of tomorrow’. GM Automotive LLC President, Glenn Mercer, offered his perspective on what dealers should expect over the next decade and explained that ‘dealerships are here to stay’ (download the 2020 Dealership of Tomorrow Study).

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, provided an update on NFDA’s lobbying activities following Brexit and our ongoing relationships with key Government departments. She outlined the NFDA’s Parliamentary Engagement Programme which continues to highlight the levels of investment in the dealer sector. The scale of employment in the retail side of the automotive industry was also discussed.

The second day was opened by Charlie Gilchrist, outgoing NADA Chairman, who thanked dealers for their support to the trade association. "Every dealer has a tremendously bright future ahead, don't let others define who you are. Hold strong to your identity", he said.

Our traditional dealer visit took place at BMW of Henderson. The visit gave us an insight into the current challenges and opportunities facing US dealers and it was fascinating to see first-hand how the dealership operates.

This year’s keynote speaker and former UK Prime Minster, The Right Hon. David Cameron provided an interesting perspective on the current global political situation and, although he did not focus on Brexit, he said trade tariffs ‘are the wrong approach’. Sue Robinson was invited to meet with him who was surprised to learn that there were many UK dealers at the event.

On the final day of the show, incoming NADA chairman, Rhett Ricart, invited dealers to embrace the opportunities that come with change.

Overall, talking to dealers and listening to keynote speakers, it was apparent that, also in the US, dealers are focusing heavily on providing their customers with the best possible experience and convenient and transparent service.

It was interesting to see that, in the US, state franchise laws, which are set state by state, give significant protection to local dealerships. These laws offer dealers protection on a number of key business issues. These include the ability of manufacturers to sell direct and termination without due cause, as well as the density of dealer networks.

Going forward, it is clear that flexibility and resilience will be key to ensure that the automotive sector continues to thrive throughout an unprecedented period of changes which will affect the global automotive industry.