If you truly believe that the franchised dealer system is the best way to sell cars, then get out there and prove it.
This week NADA celebrates its 100th anniversary. But Alain Visser, senior vice president of upstart auto brand Lynk & CO, wasn't congratulatory at the Automotive News Retail Forum on Thursday. He said the industry operates in ways that haven't changed in 100 years, while consumers have changed radically in the last 10. It is not attuned to what consumers want, he argued. Lynk will sell its cars online directly to consumers as part of its unconventional business plan.
Dealers are seeking to give customers exactly what they want, by trying retail models that are all over the map. Two speakers at the retail forum are embracing dramatically different models.
Lithia Motors CEO Bryan DeBoer takes a decentralized approach. Each store must meet financial goals, but DeBoer thinks each will perform best if its staff follows an entrepreneurial approach it believes in fully.
Sonic Automotive CEO Scott Smith takes a centralized approach. For example, all used vehicles are priced for sale by headquarters, using proprietary technology to determine the optimal price for each store's local market.
In addition, some dealerships have begun online transactions, with the car and final paperwork coming to the customer, who may never set foot in a showroom. More will follow.
NADA convention workshops and exhibitors will offer ideas and technology to support a variety of dealers' visions for future retailing. Will NADA reach 200? Only if its members, every day, deliver what consumers want.