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Starting—and growing—a dealership takes more than just a business plan and a license. There’s a lot that happens outside the boundaries of your lot that directly impacts your business. And no matter if you have a team of employees or operate solo, staying up to date on changing regulations, technology, and opportunities while operating a dealership can be overwhelming.

Here are seven reasons why being a member of your local independent automobile dealer association is good for business:

1) Education

Whether you’re just getting started or have been running a dealership for decades, your local dealer association can be a resource for pre-license or continuing education seminars. And with rules and regulations differing from state to state, having a resource dedicated to dealers within your boundaries means the information you’re getting is accurate and relevant to your market.

2) Representation

What happens in Washington, DC certainly doesn’t stay in DC, and the same goes for your state capitol building. But unless you’ve set aside time every legislative session to advocate for the industry, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a voice representing your best interests as significant decisions are made. Supporting your state dealer association is the next best thing, as their lobbyists and committees are dedicated to advancing laws in your best interest.

3) Networking

Association events like this one are an excellent way to share what’s working (and what’s not) with your peers–and hear their experiences as well. Both state and national events are invaluable opportunities to meet with fellow dealers and other industry professionals and learn from their business practices. Remember, as a business owner, sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. The chance to create and then leverage relationships that benefit your dealership is a huge selling point for members.

4) Reputation

With so much of the car-buying process happening online, consumers are laser-focused on finding more than just the best deal. Businesses that are known to be reliable and customer-centric will stand out among the competition, especially in an industry that hasn’t always had a stellar reputation. While managing your online reputation should always be top of mind, being an active member of prominent dealer associations goes a long way to prove your commitment to running a compliant business. And it’s not just prospective buyers that care—even lenders take association participation into account when evaluating new partnerships. Whether you’re a new or longtime member, be sure to feature your involvement in your website and marketing materials.

5) Savings

While membership will cost an annual fee, it can pay to join, as this calculator from TIADA shows. Auction discounts and deals sponsored by industry vendors can save your dealership money in the long run. Plus, featured guidance on how to select the right product or partner can help you get the most out of your budget. Associations also maintain a service provider directory letting you know what businesses are affiliated with the organization, acting as a referral when you’re searching for a solution.

6) Consumer Advocacy

Dealer associations are also consumer advocates, focusing on maintaining or enhancing customer service standards and buyer protections. In fact, the NIADA centers truth and accuracy, integrity, and serving the public as major tenets in their Code of Ethics. When buyers feel protected, everyone benefits.

7) Community Service

Serving your community can be a significant addition to your dealership’s value proposition. However, it’s not always easy to find out how to make a difference and get involved. Your local association is most likely one step ahead of you, coordinating volunteer initiatives to support community efforts and help you give back.

In today’s market, it’s crucial to take advantage of any opportunity that can help you improve your business. For more information on your state and local dealer associations, visit the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.


*reposted with permission from GWC WARRANTY

Despite the care and time you put into building quality inventory, all it takes is one bad experience to lose even the most loyal customer. In a constantly connected world, the right vehicle at the right price is just a click away. Excellent customer service, on the other hand, can be hard to find.

Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customerstudy found that 76% of consumers say it’s either critical or very important for salespeople to be “focused on helping achieve their needs, not just on making a quick sale.” However, it’s important to understand exactly what “good customer service” means. While everyone may have different expectations when making a purchase, the idea can be broken down into four simple concepts:

  • Friendly employees
  • Personalized experiences
  • Easy-to-find information
  • Satisfied customers

But why does it matter so much?

First, look at your buyers. According to McKinsey, by 2025, over 45% of car buyers will be millennials. Consider the companies that this generation has grown up with and use on an almost-daily basis: Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, to name a few. One thing stands out: they all offer a personalized, online customer experience that stands in sharp contrast to the stereotypical car buying process.

Today’s buyers are always connected, so customer service means more than just what happens with buyers on the lot. Providing easy access to tools and resources online has never been more critical to reach and influence these shoppers who will soon represent almost half your business. Your first chance to provide an excellent experience is not when customers walk onto your lot—it’s online as they’re researching their purchase.

Service contracts are no exception here. Start building trust from the start by showing customers that you understand the uncertainty that comes with making such a significant investment. Before you’ve even spoken with a potential buyer, make them feel comfortable that you’ve got their best interest at heart by being straightforward about what service plans you offer and what they protect (and what they don’t) from the start.

It’s also important to consider the simple fact that new customers are expensive. It can cost up to 16 times more to bring a new customer up to the same level of profitability as a lost one. That expense, combined with the fact that 89% of consumers will start doing business with a competitor after a poor experience, is worth trying to avoid at all costs.

Let’s look at the numbers behind loyal customers.

  • A 2% increase in customer retention is the same as cutting business expenses by 10%.
  • Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company.
  • Customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, but they tell 16 people about a negative experience.

A positive customer support experience online and on the lot can make the difference between a lifetime of loyalty and losing customers to the competition. And your F&I provider plays a huge role in the experience your buyers have down the road. If your provider’s customer service goals match your own and they’re able to provide an outstanding claims experience should your buyers need it, you can go a long way in cultivating a customer relationship that lasts well beyond just a single transaction.


*reposted with permission from GWC WARRANTY

On April 16th the first Ventec Ventilators were shipped out of GM’s plant in Kokomo, Indiana and the workers that built them wrote notes and signed the boxes with messages of hope and support for frontline hospital workers and people suffering from COVID-19.

GM began working with Ventec, a small Seattle-based producer of the ventilators, in early March and mobilized more than 1,000 employees and nearly 100 auto suppliers to start making the critical machines in the fight against COVID-19. The goal is to eventually make 10,000 ventilators per month, according to GM and Ventec, but the companies didn’t specify how long it would take to reach that output. GM also plans to produce masks.

With 960,000 US COVID-19 patients potentially needing ventilators, President Trump ordered General Motors on March 27th through a 1950’s wartime act⁠ to make ventilators for U.S. hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. GM said it began work on the life-saving machines on March 16th. 

June 25, 2019 webinar hosted by Used Car News, featuring Lucas Hancock, Senior Director of Risk, NextGear Capital.

Interview with D.Hansen interview

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A collection of interviews with dealers and other NIADA attendees.