NADA’s commitment to the franchise system is at an industry transition, Alford said. That’s because more automakers are electrifying their vehicle lineups and experimenting with new sales models. At the same time, dealers and automakers are moving to online sales to improve their customers’ car buying experience.
During its presidency, NADA drafted with dealer input and developed a framework of guiding principles outlining the organization’s position on topics such as subscriptions and over-the-air updates.
Alford, dealer principal for Marine Chevrolet in Jacksonville, N.C., and Trent Buick-GMC-Cadillac in New Bern, N.C., said the strategy was a way for dealers and allies to “go in the same direction.” says there is.
“We don’t agree on everything, but these principles show how we can successfully disagree,” he said. “If he can effectively demonstrate how these principles can help customers, then 90% of the heavy lifting is done for him.”
Dealers and automakers are working towards a common interest of “providing an unparalleled customer experience,” said Alford. But both groups live with uncertainty. He added that not all risks taken would go well and that not all issues would be agreed upon.
Multiple concerns, from electrification and digital sales to recent supply chain and inventory constraints, have put dealers on edge, he said. Addressing them requires collaboration and recognition that automotive manufacturing and retail are part of the same process.
“That’s why we’ve been so passionate about our dialogue with OEMs. If we work together, we can win,” says Alford. “This is why we always say that dealerships are really vital to the future of ICEs and EVs. That is why virtually all his OEMs are competing with their own dealerships in a way that direct sellers can only dream of. We are publicly aware of our superiority.”