On the right track

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This year marked the fifth time that I have taken to the stage as one of the moderators at the CADA Summit.

As I looked out over the crowd, I saw many familiar faces.

The attendees that return each year represent the cream of the crop of Canada’s automotive industry. Among them are CADA Laureates, heads of dealer groups, innovative entrepreneurs, and visionaries who come once a year for the chance to get even better at what they do.

The fact so many return speaks volumes about the value they get from attending, and to the quality of the presentations.

This year, the sold-out crowd of dealers, and assorted industry leaders, were challenged, provoked and
some were even a bit shaken by the forecasts and prognostications from some of the presenters.

What does a world where people share rides and don’t buy vehicles look like for dealers?

What ambitious plans do governments have to compel — or outright force — manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles? What impact will these vehicles — and those updated by software upgrades — have on service revenues?

Should dealers exit the business or invest more?

How will dealers equip their teams to train customers on next generation technologies when many can barely keep them trained on their product lineups and technologies?

And what about Donald Trump and the larger economic and political issues of the day?

All of that, and much more, was discussed and debated on stage, and then chattered about in the hallways and at dinner tables during breaks and networking sessions.

The CADA Summit sets a new bar every year for delivering the type of thought- provoking topics that dealers need to shake them out of their comfort zone.

Now admittedly, some of the presentations are a bit, “out there” and I don’t think the future will arrive as quickly as some are predicting, but change is indeed in the air.

Smart dealers take it all in, assess the risks, dismiss the absurd, embrace the new, and above all protect themselves from being blindsided by trends and industry forces they didn’t see coming.

As a member of the CADA Summit planning committee, I can share with you that we have hours of debates and at times heated discussions about the topics and presenters. The engaged and skilled team from CADA and our team from Canadian auto dealer really roll up our sleeves and craft each year’s lineup.

The committee met recently to review feedback from attendees and I was encouraged that many of the most controversial topics and sessions scored well with attendees.

This means dealers might not always like what they hear, but they like the opportunity to hear about it.

That’s what the CADA Summit is about, and that’s what the pages of this magazine are all about as well. It’s good to know we are on the right track, helping guide dealers into these uncertain times, but with con dent optimism.

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Canadian auto dealer