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In hard times, dealers turn to advocacy

April 2, 2021
By Steve Gates, 2021 AIADA Chairman
 
No question about it, auto retailing today, amidst a pandemic, is more complicated, challenging, and potentially rewarding than ever before. In times like these, when our businesses require every ounce of our focus, it’s easy to turn inward. To put blinders on and focus only on the job in front of you, the stuff that HAS to get done. 
That’s why I’m so impressed with the auto dealers among us who have instead turned outward and broadened their gaze to include not just what needs to be done in a crisis but what CAN be done. The dealers who developed innovative online sales teams overnight. Who turned their lots into food banks. The dealers who didn’t shrink in the face of adversity, but grew.
As the AIADA chairman, I’m especially heartened to see so many of our members reaching out to Washington, D.C., this spring. The public perception of Congress couldn’t be lower, and the challenges of meeting with a legislator at the moment are many, so it’s gratifying to see so many dealers overcoming those hurdles to get to know their representative and, more importantly, help them get to know their employees and store. That outreach, taking 30 minutes to give a tour and having some employees engage in a quick Q&A might not seem like much, but it could very well be the first introduction a newly elected member of Congress has to an auto retailer.
Your effort, and your time, could make the difference in how a lawmaker views small businesses in their district.
Just ask Peter Lustgarten, principal of Concordville Subaru in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, who hosted Rep. Mary Scanlon (D-Pa.) in October 2019 and will host her again this May. Or GM Geoff Yeager of Toyota of Lancaster in Lancaster, California, who hosted Rep. Mike Garcia (R-California) in October 2020.
These folks allowed the AIADA to arrange in-person meetings, but we are just as happy to set up a virtual event at your store. To get the ball rolling, just tell us that you want to host an event. We’ll handle all the logistics from there.
The AIADA is, by its very nature, an organization populated by members who turn outward in hard times. When others equivocate, we seize an opportunity. We’re the dealers who have never been satisfied by the status quo and have always had to fight to get a fair shake for our stores and brands. 
A pandemic won’t stop us, and the growing numbers of Dealer Visit reports coming across my desk are just more proof of that.
 
 

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