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NADA: Full speed ahead

November 23, 2010

Will the second-quarter slump in sales make way for a sizzling endof- summer spike? Is leasing vehicles still worthwhile? Will imports overtake the "Big Three"? Many questions still have to be answered, but here's some information we know for certain: Manufacturers are doing a better job of listening to dealers before taking any drastic action, according to the results of our Winter Dealer Attitude Survey, published in the July issue of the magazine, NADA's AutoExec. The surveys are your chance to "grade" your manufacturers, and your input through the surveys are gaining importance at headquarters. The Summer Dealer Attitude Survey was due last week. Auto financing is a complex service that dealers offer to the public, and it's one that is little understood. That was all too evident in the recent media coverage of the new California law requiring dealerships to retain loan documents for seven years. The headline in the New York Times? "California Takes Aim at Dealer Bias in Car Loans." There was no mention that finance companies offer dealers a wholesale rate not available to the consumer. There was no mention that market forces, competition and our own long-term interest in maintaining a customer base impose important contraints on the contract, or retail rate. NADA Chairman Alan Starling corrected those omissions in a letter published in the Times. But we still need to make sure these key messages are part  of any discussion or media coverage of dealer-assisted financing. And we need to be part of that education campaign. The fact is, we make financing available to millions of consumers who otherwise might not be able to obtain it. To fax or not to fax, that is the question. With increasingly complex rules on privacy and solicitation, both the NADA and dealers will have to wrestle with what constitutes unlawful faxing. Fortunately, NADA's legal department is on the case, reviewing the rules and regulations and preparing educational materials to help dealers understand their new obligations. To explain why it makes sense for you to participate in a new NADA member benefit, the Long-term Care insurance Web site is now available to members at Planning for the NADA convention is racing along. Make your reservations now, as NADA space in the most popular hotels is filling up fast; Bellagio and Caesar's Palace are sold out. Go to for other suggestions for fast, easy convention registration. Speaking of registration, dealers and employees can sign up now for NADA fall seminars. Two courses  meet in Chicago: the new, "Body Shop Estimating for Success," on Oct. 13; and the popular "How to Drive More Business Through Your Body Shop," Sept. 18-19. Other NADA seminars: "Parts Management and Profitability," Sept. 4-5 in Pittsburgh; "More than Revenue and Expenses: In-depth Financial Analysis," in Cincinnati, Sept. 22 for beginners, Sept. 23-24 for advanced; "Service Advisor Survival," Sept. 9-10 in Oakland, Calif. The Dealer Academy continues to educate dealership managers and successors, and offers Official Auction and Used Car Training courses Aug. 6-8 in Manheim, Pa., Sept. 16-18 in Spokane and Oct. 13- 15 in Columbus, Ohio. Coming soon: It's a new Internet-based executive organizer, designed to save busy dealers' time by arranging news and information links from across the Internet on one convenient page. The personalized home page links you to important NADA content and a wide array of news, financial services, weather, travel and other information of your choosing. This kind of service is already popular with thousands of executives from Fortune 500 companies. NADA will be providing the service to you free of charge in September. Finally, congratulations to NADA President Phil Brady, who was named an Automotive News All- Star for enhancing the association's relations with Congress. As always, NADA stands ready to help you succeed, as do I. If there is ever any way we can help, don't hesitate to call me or the professional staff at the NADA, 800-252- 6232. Make sure your NADA membership is up-to-date! The benefits far outweigh the annual dues. For those dealers with multiple stores, you need a separate NADA membership for each rooftop. To confirm your membership status, call the NADA Membership Department at 800- 252-6232, ext. 2.