SAN FRANCISCO, CAL. – Dealers, suppliers and automakers the world over have streamed into sunny San Francisco this weekend for the 2011 installment of the National Automobile Dealer Association conference and expo.
Considered by many to be a bellweather for the overall health of the auto industy, this year’s show is expected to offer a larger turnout than in previous years as a sagging economy and dealership closings in the U.S. and Canada negatively affected attendance in Orlando last year and New Orleans the year before.
In addition to the bevy of auto-related business taking booth space this year, many of the manufacturers who were noticably absent at last year’s show in Orlando will have an official presence on the show floor this weekend.
For thousands of the nation’s new-car and truck dealers, the NADA Convention & Expo is a rare opportunity early in the year to meet with auto industry leaders in person to discuss a wide array of key business issues. “It’s a must for dealers to attend the franchise meetings to set goals and objectives for the year,” said Ed Tonkin, 2010 NADA chairman.
“The franchise meetings provide dealers with access to top automaker executives in a forum they can find no place else.”
In all, 24 dealer franchise meetings are scheduled in just two days at the NADA convention. And seven automakers – Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Kia Motors America Inc., Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., Subaru of America, Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. – will be exhibiting on the Expo floor.
“The NADA convention provides an opportunity for us to hear directly from dealers about the issues that matter most to them,” said Jim Bunnell, GM’s general manager of U.S. sales operations.
“We are able to talk to a large number of dealers, answer their questions and share news about our business plans and performance.” GM executives from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac will share their 2011 business, product and marketing plans with the dealers at the meetings, Bunnell said.
Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the NADA convention “allows our leadership team to spend time with dealers and discuss the state of the business.”
“We’ll continue to share information and engage in dialog with our dealer partners about the progress we’re making on our transformation plan and the opportunities and challenges in 2011 and beyond,” Czubay said.
“Continuing to focus on dealer profitability through growing our sales and market share and enhancing the customer experience is a top priority for us,” Czubay added. “On the Lincoln side, we will continue to work with dealers to execute our transformation and growth of the Lincoln brand.”