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  • Steve Chipman

    Lots of work ahead, says new CADA Chairman

    Steve Chipman, CADA Laureate and one of Canada’s most respected and influential dealers, is the newly-elected Chairman of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA). Canadian auto dealer sat down with Chipman for an exclusive interview at the Western Canadian Dealer Summit in Las Vegas, Nev. Chipman is the President & […]

  • The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) is a visual extravaganza for car enthusiasts who make their living in the automotive industry.

    Viva Las Vegas

    A trio of automobile dealer associations from Western Canada joined forces to create one big super event for their collective members this year — and the first-ever Western Canadian Dealer Summit held Nov. 6-8 in Las Vegas, Nev. appears to be a hit. Rather than hold an annual conference in […]

  • Toyota Canada celebrates 50 years

    Toyota Canada celebrates 50 years

    Fifty years ago, Toyota granted a distributorship agreement to Canadian Motor Industries, Ltd. (CMI), which would later become Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI). Since those humble beginnings TCI has come a long way. Over the last five decades, Canadians have purchased over 4.6 million TCI vehicles. And today, almost half of […]

  • Ford officially launched Driving Skills for Life in Canada in 2014 with events in Toronto (shown) and Calgary during September/October

    Ford helping teens tackle distracted driving

    Distracted driving is fast becoming the number one cause in vehicle crashes and the growth ties in with the explosion in smartphone usage. According to data from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, motorists who text message are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash compared with those […]

  • Jaguar F-Type

    2014 mid-year report card

    THE MARKET CONTINUES TO GROW AND MOST BRANDS ARE DOING WELL — BUT NOT ALL At the halfway point of 2014, new auto sales in Canada are 2.8 per cent ahead of where they were at the same time last year, setting the stage for a second consecutive record year […]


Latest news

Mike Jackson to headline CADA Summit

Mike Jackson to headline CADA Summit

November 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm 0 comments

The leader of North America’s largest automotive retail group, Mike Jackson, Chairman and CEO of AutoNation, will be a keynote speaker at the 3rd annual CADA Summit held Feb. 11, 2015 in Toronto at the Hyatt Regency. Jackson is widely regarded as one of the most influential voices in automotive […]

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At the third annual TalkAUTO Canada conference, jointly hosted by J.D. Power and Canadian Black Book, the overall theme that seemed to resonate was making that real connection — how modern auto retailers can develop true, personal relationships with their customers.

As was the case with previous TalkAUTO events, a lot of data was presented, both in the general sessions and afternoon breakouts. Overall, in terms of sales the Canadian vehicle market has proved incredibly robust over the last few years, delivering record volume on the new car side and a strong demand for used vehicles too. That said, there are some potential bumps in the road ahead.

Josh Bailey, Vice-President, Research and Editorial at Canadian Black Book, provided some food for thought in his general session, entitled Long Term Financing — A Viable Option or Mortgaging the Future? Bailey pointed to the mushrooming in long term financing contracts over the last few years — a legacy of the 2008-09 recession. “As an industry, today we are doing some finance things that we really don’t want to do,” he said.

The only choice?

Bailey pointed to the fact that following the recession, leasing became virtually impossible for some brands and in order to keep customers in newer vehicles, longer financing was the only alternative to keep payments affordable.  

“Everybody deserves a new car,” Bailey said, noting that although cash transactions have been fairly consistent since the recession, the notion of cash “as the monster in the room,” is a misconception. “Cash incentives may be huge,” Bailey said “but the market is mainly driven by credit line buyers.”

Pointing to CBB’s own data, Bailey noted a drop in residual buyers had resulted in many brands and their dealers scurrying away from the leasing table. “I took our residual price and calculated how much money was being lost per car and it was around $3700 per unit.”

Looking to the future, Bailey said that the shortage in lease returns is likely to ease, resulting in more positive equity in those off-lease vehicles and an upswing in residual values. 

He said that ultimately, the industry needs to find a balance between leasing and finance. “Canadians tend to have fairly long ownership cycles,” he said “but we want people coming back to us. Nobody is going to be sitting at their desk wondering how many parts sales are coming at month end, they want to sell cars.”

He said that getting back into leasing is a good opportunity and will help push the Certified Pre-Owned programs that both OEMs and dealers have invested in heavily. “If customers don’t show up, these programs don’t get the support they need and it’s tough to keep them alive.”

Premium treatment

Sashy Jiang, a student from the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont., who worked with J.D. Power on a co-op program, gave a very interesting presentation, presenting the findings of a study looking at the industry issues from both a consumer and dealer perspective. 

Among common misconceptions, such as the profit consumers think dealers made per transaction and the actual numbers, as well as the perceived notion that dealers try to up-sell service customers instead of actually right-selling them, Jiang noted that customers, more than anything else, want premium treatment from the retailer they choose to do business with.

“Consumers want the buying process to be transparent,” she said. “They want a memorable experience, a sensible transaction and quality service. By increasing transparency in the process, we as an industry are doing ourselves a great favour.”

One of the highlights of TalkAUTO is the dealer discussion panel and this year was no exception. Moderated by Darren Slind, Senior Director, Regional Practice Leader at J.D. Power, the 2014 panel consisted of Michael Croxon, President and CEO of the NewRoads Automotive Group, Jamie Johnston, General Manager, Orangeville Honda, Peter MacDonald, President, Alex MacDonald Ford and Pieter van der Griend, Dealer Principal, Stouffville Hyundai and Stouffville Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

The dealer panelists agreed that while sales growth in the future might not match the pace we’ve seen recently, clouds on the horizon don’t appear particularly stormy, at least at this juncture.

Working together

Michael Croxon said that within his group, one franchise has witnessed phenomenal growth while another — essentially forced down the path of long-term financing is finding it tough to bring customers back. “We need to focus on as shorter terms as possible,” he said. “If both OEMs and dealers are creative enough to keep the business going and the market is on their side, things will work out.”

The sophistication and expectations of today’s customers was also another hot topic. Referencing Mike Bataglia’s presentation earlier in the day (which focused on the evolution of automotive retail), Pieter van der Griend said that tablet technology is something dealers need to embrace and although sales managers might see it as losing control of the process, customers simply won’t tolerate the traditional “back and forth” routine of salesperson to manager’s office during the sales process.

Noting current concerns regarding factory imaging programs and the general trend toward larger stores, the dealer panel offered some interesting views. Jamie Johnston said it wasn’t so much about size but what you’re able to do with the space provided, a sentiment echoed by Pieter Van Der Griend. “I think we can do a better job with the square footage,” he said. “We’ve been open for four years and already asked to rebrand. We can do better with the 14,000 square feet we have instead of tearing it down to build a 25,000 square foot facility.

Michael Croxon, whose Subaru franchise continues to witness record growth, despite operating out of temporary accommodation, said this example alone points to how little an impact facilities can actually have on a dealer’s operation. “We are operating out a facility that’s about the size of this stage and last month, we had our best gross profit ever. Bricks and mortar have little impact. I’d rather invest in my people over buildings,” he said.

Generation Z and the importance of real relationships

This year’s keynote address came from Dianne Craig, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada. 

Although citing the industry’s incredible performance over the last couple of years “this year we think sales will be close to 1.8 million and next year 1.9 million,” she said, Craig also remarked that the present “isn’t an easy time for us.”

She noted that the car buying experience should be fun but often, it falls far short of that. Craig said that 89 per cent of consumers contact dealers but one out of four end up going with a different brand because they didn’t get the response they expected.

Craig said that when it comes to satisfaction, loyalty doesn’t necessarily equate to satisfaction but engagement does. “What we are focusing on is emotionally engaging with our customers.”

Using a video to demonstrate how real, quality engagement can make a difference, Craig also talked about Generation Z (those in the roughly 13-20 year old age bracket). She said that by 2020, around 40 per cent of the population will comprise of Gen Y or Gen Z and their purchasing power will equate to $10 trillion.

“Since birth Generation Z have had mobile technology. They are used to multi-screens and multi-tasking.” Craig made a very interesting point in that not only are Gen Z completely embroiled in a technology environment, they are also influencing older generations too.

She said this creates an interesting situation. On the one hand, technology has made it harder for businesses to really engage on a personal, one-to-one level with their customers and yet at the same time, people are craving that human contact more than ever. Showing another video where an actual person pops out of a screen in a mall, much to the delight of those interacting with it, she noted that despite the growth of online shopping, dealers still have a real chance to provide that true human contact via the test drive.

“This is our greatest opportunity to make an impression,” she said. “A genuine, lasting impression.”

Besides the general sessions, this year’s TalkAUTO witnessed four breakouts, giving attendees an option to attend two during the afternoon.

These were; Reimagined Retail: The Evolution of Buying and Selling Cars in Canada, presented by J.D. Ney, Manager, Automotive Research and Consulting, J.D. Power; Digital Lead Marketing: Navigating Your Way Through Digital Media, presented by Alan Bird, President and Chief Executive Leader, SCI MarketView; The Agile Facility: How to Meet Customer and Employee Expectations Today and Be Ready for Ever Evolving Trends and Social Marketing in the Automotive Space, presented by David Henderson, Co-founder, SocialDealz Inc.

The sessions were well attended and provided a meaty amount of solid, practical analysis and tips to help dealers better meet the needs of their customers. With more than 300 registered attendees, 2014 TalkAUTO Canada continues to deliver exceptional content and has quickly established itself as one of the premier automotive conferences on our nation’s annual auto industry calendar.

2014 TalkAUTO Canada: Getting back to basics

November 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0 comments

At the third annual TalkAUTO Canada conference, jointly hosted by J.D. Power and Canadian Black Book, the overall theme that seemed to resonate was making that real connection — how modern auto retailers can develop true, personal relationships with their customers. As was the case with previous TalkAUTO events, a […]

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Nissan surpasses 100,000 Canadian sales for the first time

Nissan surpasses 100,000 Canadian sales for the first time

November 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm 0 comments

Nissan Group recently announced that as of Nov. 13, 2014, it had reached the milestone of 100,000 Canadian units sold in a calendar year. This historic sales record represents a 27 per cent year-over-year increase and has been achieved in just over 10 months, propelled by the Nissan Group’s commitment […]

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Stephen K. Carlisle

GM names new President and Managing Director for Canada

November 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm 0 comments

Stephen K. Carlisle has been named President and Managing Director of General Motors of Canada Ltd (GMCL) succeeding Kevin W. Williams, who has led GM Canada since 2010. Williams will assist in the transition through the end of the year. Williams has elected to retire from General Motors, effective Dec. […]

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Christina St-Germain

Manheim names new general manager for Montreal

November 26, 2014 at 11:59 am 0 comments

As part of its continuing focus on developing talent and improving its customer experience, Manheim has promoted Christina St-Germain to general manager at Manheim Montreal, a wholesale auto auction located at 715, rue Dubois in St Eustache, Que. “A key part developing talent and creating a great customer experience is […]

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Ontario Ram truck dealers partner with Heartland TV star

Ontario Ram truck dealers partner with Heartland TV star

November 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm 0 comments

The Ontario Ram Truck dealers have announced a new partnership with Amber Marshall, star of CBC television’s beloved drama, Heartland. In this arrangement, Amber will be featured in regional dealer promotional materials for Ram Truck in print, on the radio, web and social media. Additionally, she will attend select Ram […]

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Centennial College School of Transportation professor Robert Paul (left) with students in the Motive Power Technician postsecondary program and the BOXER engine donated by Subaru Canada, Inc. in partnership with Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd. (CNW Group/Subaru Canada Inc.)

Subaru Canada donates BOXER engine to Centennial College

November 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm 0 comments

Subaru Canada, in partnership with their parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, has donated a 3.6-litre SUBARU BOXER six-cylinder engine display to Centennial College’s School of Transportation today. The Subaru engine display will help students in the various Centennial College School of Transportation programs understand the benefits and operation of a […]

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2015 CADA Summit: Connectivity, technology a big focus

2015 CADA Summit: Connectivity, technology a big focus

November 19, 2014 at 2:39 pm 0 comments

Returning for its third year, the 2015 CADA Summit will bring a mix of established favorites and new features. It’s taking place on February 11, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Toronto, just prior to the opening of the Canadian International AutoShow. Since it was established, the CADA Summit has […]

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