TORONTO, ONT. – For any dealer attendees worried the agenda for the 2014 TalkAUTO conference yesterday might be too removed from addressing the day-to-day dealership grind, a heavy swinging panel of Toronto-area dealers assuaged those concerns by bringing in-store best practices to the forefront.
Covering key concerns like success in the used-car market and tips for hiring, the four-man panel of Chris Pfaff of Pfaff Automotive, Shawn Morris of Grand Touring, Hugh Sisley of Sisley Honda and Francesco Policaro of the new Porsche Centre Oakville spoke for over an hour and provided insight and opinions for the packed house.
Held at the Toronto Congress Centre and jointly hosted by J.D. Power and Canadian Black Book, the 2014 TalkAUTO conference had something for almost everyone in the diverse group of attendees that included reps from OEMs, dealerships, software firms, banks and insurance companies.
While a keynote speech from BMW Canada chief Eduardo Villaverde and a used-car market trend analysis from Black Book’s Josh Bailey were both informative, the real meat of the show for dealers came with the Allison Goodwin-moderated dealer panel.
After agreeing that the used-car department is a critical component of today’s dealership, the panel was asked about long-term finance contracts and its affect on the market.
“They’re suicidal,” Hugh Sisley explained succinctly. “There is often a need to change your lifestyle over the term of these payments and customers need to change vehicles but are locked into long-term deals. We are rolling so much negative equity for some customers and it is just plain wrong.”
Chris Pfaff, who recently opened a new Volkswagen dealership in Richmond Hill, Ont., said the rates have been a “slippery slope” for some time and that his dealerships avoid getting a customer into longer-term deals whenever possible.
When asked about the proliferation of dealer groups, the panel of dealer group owners said the only thing they could: Consolidation is here. Either you are in or you are out.
The full-day show featured a number of breakout sessions and a comprehensive look at the Canadian auto sector presented by Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive.
Canadian AutoWorld was there scribbling notes and will have a full report in our next edition.