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In his opening remarks at the BHPH Super Forum Thursday, NIADA President Scott Allen reminded industry members of the purpose of his favorite event. 

“You’re here to learn, network together, help each other grow and become better dealers,” Allen said.

That mission was carried out throughout the day as dealers gathered tips and ideas to work through a changing market with increased vehicle prices, rising interest rates, historic inflation and new regulatory rules.

“As entrepreneurs you relish times of uncertainty. That’s where there’s opportunity,” said NIADA CEO Robert Voltman.

Ken Shilson of Subprime Analytics provided dealers tips to keep the momentum of the BHPH sector going after the industry navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn successfully. Shilson credited dealers’ success to their entrepreneurial skills more than government stimulus payments and additional unemployment benefits. He did note the major challenges ahead for BHPH dealers and gave his insight for meeting those gained from studying nearly $28 billion in contracts.

Shilson mentioned the cost and availability of the “right inventory”, limited access to capital, customers moving online to shop, need for focused underwriting, education and training.

“Hope is not the right strategy. We have to adapt to the market conditions,” Shilson said.

Several panels were featured throughout the day, with dealers getting important tips from their peers on bulletproofing their business and underwriting best practices.

In the discussion led by Jeff Watson, owner of 4 Seasons Auto in Utah, dealers were cautioned about their exposures to theft, lawsuits, compliance and cyber attacks.

“You have to look at all your vulnerabilities,” Watson said.

Senior 20 Group Moderator Bill Elizondo held a group discussion on the best practices in underwriting. Elizondo pointed out consistency in principals and approach are key.

“You have to be consistent with your model,” he said. “You need to make sure you’re doing the same thing over and over.”

NIADA Vice President Jeremy Beck joined KAR Auction Services Chief Economist Tom Kontos, Cox Automotive Director of Economic and Industry Insights Mark Strand and Experian Automotive Senior Director of Solutions and Consulting Melinda Zabritski in looking at the changing economics of the industry. 

Zabritski cautioned delinquencies are rising and there are more non-prime customers along with people dealing with credit issues due to inflation.

“With the market, there’s more opportunity. You’ll see a mix of consumers,” Zabritski said.

NIADA leadership also held a panel discussion on its efforts to work on behalf of the dealers on legislation and regulatory issues. They also discussed the opportunities for dealers to serve on committees and to join the 20 Groups to learn and collaborate from peers.

“Our success is your success,” Voltman said.

Between the breakout sessions, dealers had multiple opportunities to visit with nearly 70 vendors during the networking luncheon and an evening reception. In the afternoon, dealers had a chance to sit down with 10 lenders in the finance fair.