What I Learned at NIADA 2021

September 1, 2021

The NIADA Convention & Expo was held in San Antonio last week. The in-person show brought together independent auto dealers for more than 60 education sessions presented in four tracks as well as networking, special events, and awards ceremonies. NFL Hall of Fame star Michael Irvin was on hand as this year’s keynote speaker. Overall, it was a great show.

I was excited to be able to attend NIADA 2021. The energy on the show floor was amazing and getting to talk to and learn from so many independent auto dealers was fantastic. I learned a lot from the networking events and education sessions, but was most excited to hear what people had to say on the show floor. There is always so much excitement at NIADA and this year’s show didn’t let down.

Thankfully, I had some really fantastic conversations. One thing that I noticed was that a lot of independent auto dealers have a ton of overlap between vendors. Many independent dealers are run by owner-operators who simply do everything. They price, appraise, sell, and everything in between. They have so many touchpoints that it is easy to get overwhelmed. Independent auto dealers want things to be made easier.

Think about it. The more cooks you have in the kitchen, the harder it is to make dinner. The same thing goes for auto dealers and their technology stack. So much data moves from your DMS to your website. By having too many vendors, you risk miscommunication between solutions. The time to simplify is now. And I think that’s exactly where the industry is going.

There are so many layers and processes to managing your lot that having excess vendors can be detrimental. I asked what people were using to price, appraise, and get cars online. And every time, the answer was the same: they pay for a bunch of different products that do similar things and overlap. While independent auto dealers want to centralize their vendors, they are finding it difficult or too time-consuming to do so. The longer it takes you to get pictures online, write ads, and prepare the vehicle’s digital presence, the less competitive you can be. And that’s where the race to the bottom begins. The more links in the data “chain” - the longer it takes to get inventory online.

I’m encouraged by the level of conversations I had at NIADA 2021. The show was run very smoothly, the speakers were enlightening, and the networking was top-notch. I think that independent auto dealers have a lot going for them. They can compete with anyone in this industry, and I am excited to help them succeed. A big thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth, took time to chat, and helped put together such an amazing show.