Looking back on CADA's Annual Meeting and Gala, The 102

Dear Member Dealer:

I hope you were able to participate in the recent CADA Annual Meeting and Gala – The 102.

For those who were there: thank you for attending. We saw a lot of energy, were informed of several industry updates, and experienced a plethora of camaraderie and fun.

For those of you who missed it, think now about The 103 in 2017 – it’s truly an action and information packed event not to be missed.

The 102 took place on Friday, November 18th at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. Several national speakers who are very familiar with our industry provided their insights including:

  1. Our keynote speaker was homegrown, but a national sensation: Steve Spangler. Steve is the 21st century version of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” who uses his considerable and participatory talents to explain The Science of Business: Connecting the Science of Sales and Service. His interactive presentation showed how scientific principles could be applied directly to your automotive business. Steve Spangler guaranteed and definitely delivered the entertainment (and we learned a thing or two, as well)! As Ed Dobbs commented, “That presentation was fantastic!”
  2. Keeping your eyes on the road ahead is what researcher Glenn Mercer covered in his presentation, The Dealership of the Future. For the past six months, Glenn has been immersed in NADA’s “Dealership of Tomorrow” project and gave us an overview of what he has discovered. Colorado dealers participating in The 102 were able to get a ring-side seat and hear, first-hand, the anticipated trends ahead. As Paul Suss said shared, “Glenn will either thrill you to death or scare you to death depending on how our future evolves.”
  3. In Beaver Creek, some of the biggest news in the automotive world was delivered by a Californian. Charlie Vogelheim spoke about how “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel.” The always engaging Charlie knows a thing or two, based on his career stints with Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power and, now, Motor Trend.
  4. And we heard, “Is Our Franchise System Under Assault?” As an automotive observer and consultant of 40 years, J Ferron shared his compelling insights as to why he’s still betting on the franchise.

Previously, Ferron accurately predicted some of the upheaval we’re witnessing, including public ownership and industry consolidation in his late ‘80s book: Betting on the Franchise: Car & Truck Retailing into the 1990’s. But he still thinks the system works, “because dealers adapt faster than central planning…and they’re faster to do the right thing for consumers.” So he’s “still betting on the franchise.”

However, “I’ve always said there was a wildcard.” Actually, Ferron says there are several wildcards, among them Tesla; under-appreciation by our OEMs; and manufacturers reaching back into the retail business, thinking they “might understand retail better than you.” The devil is in the data, he says. “As more consumer data becomes available – social media, the Internet, tracking – and vehicle data becomes profuse, the question becomes: what’s the dealer’s role in analytics and forecasting of where customers are coming from. If dealers get cut out because of intent, lack of capability or because they don’t think it matters, the franchise system fundamentally changes.”

Even more about our speakers and take-aways from their insightful presentations:

Glenn Mercer spent two decades at the McKinsey consulting firm, plus 10 years working as an independent automotive consultant. He’s been working on the NADA “Dealership of Tomorrow” project for six months. We heard from Glenn just three days after he went public with his findings at the LA Auto Show’s “AutoConferenceLA.” “NADA is worried that America’s 17,000 dealers are not focused enough on changes in the auto landscape in the U.S.,” Mercer said. His research meant talking to more than 55 people and reading hundreds of reports, plus traveling thousands of miles. The focus is specifically on dealers and more broadly on changes in the auto industry overall.

“The single most troubling thing out there is that if we do manage to merge mobility services (e.g., Uber and Lyft) and autonomous vehicles so no driver is needed and it’s cheaper…if they really work that way you might have people deciding they don’t need to own a car anymore,” Mercer says. But “evolution, not revolution,” is his prediction.

We also gained from hearing what Charlie Vogelheim has learned on the other side of things. He’s seeing the impact Google, Apple and other digital giants are having, from driver assistance options, to self-driving and potentially fully autonomous vehicles, to how the shared economy (again – Uber, Lyft) may change the way people own and utilize vehicles.

Will the shared economy improve transportation and traffic congestion? Uber and Lyft “don’t necessarily take away from congestions but may add to it. It’s far from an absolute solution.”

Charlie also pointed out that people’s transportation needs change as their circumstances do. For example, “A lot of urban dwellers find that once they have a family or a specific place they want to go, like the mountains or the beach, they need their own car or some other transportation to get there.”

After Steve Spangler’s entertaining conclusion, it was time to party at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with attending dealers, guests, CADA staff and of course our always generous sponsors (turn to page 6 – please show your support of these organizations as you see fit).

I hope to see you for at next year’s CADA’s Annual Meeting and Gala – The 103. Planning is already underway!

Kind regards,

Fletcher Flower, Chairman
Colorado Automobile Dealers Association