Leadership Symposium kicks off Super Forum

Analyzing the trends facing the used car industry and learning the how different officials make decisions were among the plethora of topics covered during NIADA’s Leadership Symposium Tuesday.

The event for the leaders of state independent auto dealer associations kicked off NIADA’s BHPH Super Forum at the Austin Hilton.

“It was super in-depth. There was a lot of I haven’t thought about,” said Chad Tessman with the Nebraska Independent Auto Dealers Association.

Glenn Tecker and Jim Meffert of Tecker International led the afternoon session, helping the state leaders understand their association’s DNA, value to their members, trends facing the industry and the various approaches officials take in their decision making.

“This is my first year as a president, and we have a new executive director. Learning how we will work together is important,” said Brett Straub of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Independent Dealers Association.

Tecker reminded association leaders they are in a race for relevance to their members. He said they must continually look at the value they provide to their members.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint. It’s also a marathon without a finish line,” Tecker said.

He reminded them their members are also focused on what the association can do for them. Their opinion of the association’s relevance and value will be shown in membership renewals.

The association leaders were asked to look at the challenges facing them. Answers varied from size of their association, the political climate and members’ participation between planning sessions.

They also took a hard look at where they were on the life cycle of their association, an exercise that was especially gratifying to Virgina’s leadership.

“We’re in a good spot,” said Virginia’s Craig Amelung, pointing the stage of fulfillment on the graphic. “We were in regression and were dying three years ago.”

He said the group worked to reorganize to get on its current course.

Meffert told attendees the life cycle of their associations does not follow a perfect line, and they must continually look ahead to where the association wants to go.

The groups were also challenged to look at current trends facing the industry and the factors impacting it.

The current rising prices of vehicles and interest rates, coupled with the increased cost of goods and commodities, are leading many customers to change their purchasing habits.

“There’s not as much brand loyalty,” Tessman said. “A guy who never bought a Ford is now buying one because it fits the price. There’s also a limited supply.”

The Leadership Symposium started with a legal briefing from Jeffrey Tenenbaum. The attorney gave the associations advice on handling conflicts of interest, insurance coverage and copyright laws. He also spoke extensively on the various campaign and lobbying laws that pertain to the associations and their non-profits.

“Every state has different laws and limits on contributions and lobbying,” Tenenbaum said. “Make sure you’re compliant with the tax laws.”

The Leadership Symposium will continue Wednesday before the start of the BHPH Super Forum and the workshops.

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