Disruption and digital focus for Western Canadian Dealer Summit

There were a couple of common themes that car dealers repeatedly heard at the annual Western Canadian Dealer Summit held Sept. 23-25 in Banff, Alta. — brace for disruption and embrace digital technology.

Speaker after speaker on the jam-packed agenda offered cautionary tales to dealers about the impact of change and disruption that they are already facing or soon would be.

The upscale event, which took place at the spectacular Banff Springs Hotel, was jointly held by the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta (MDA) and the Saskatchewan Automobile Dealers Association.

The speakers were a mix of industry experts and analysts, dealers, and suppliers who provide services to auto dealers.

Their range of perspectives painted a consistent picture that auto dealers were under siege on several fronts, and were tasked with providing a better customer experience — particularly in the online and digital world.

Some dealers that Canadian auto dealer talked with took issue with some of the expert predictions, arguing that in their small remote corner of rural Saskatchewan, for example, there was little evidence yet of the impact of these changes.

Others, located in more densely-populated urban centres, said they were feeling the pressure to change and were taking steps to make improvements.

Many of the presenters told dealers that these changes really had little to do with the automotive retail experience specifically, just that rising consumer expectations were being fueled by their day-to-day experiences, doing everything from ordering a coffee online to booking travel, or ordering products through services like Amazon.

Some speakers did offer some advice that was “low hanging fruit” that dealers could embrace immediately to get started and to make an impact.

Canadian auto dealer columnist Chuck Seguin was also at the event conducting video interviews of dealers, and those interviews will be presented as part of an ongoing Automotive Insights series in the coming weeks.

Look for full exclusive event coverage in the October issue of Canadian auto dealer magazine that will feature insights from the keynotes and presenters, including:

  • John White, President & CEO — Canadian Automobile Dealers Association
  • Charlie Vogelheim, Partner – Tpc Management
  • Jenn Dunstan, Marketing Director – Flexdealer
  • Kevin Baumgart, Vp Of Business Development – Hireology
  • Brent Wees, Director Of First Impressions – Nextup
  • Niel Hiscox, President – Universus Media Group, Inc.
  • Gino Cozza, Vp Sales & Distribution – TD Auto Finance
  • Maria Soklis, President – Cox Automotive Canada
  • Mark Endras, Ceo – TradeRev
  • Tom Kontos, Chief Economist – Kar Auction Services Inc.
  • Matt Woods, Director Of Field Operations – Service Group
  • Farid Ahmed, President / C.E.O. – Dealer Solutions Group Of Companies
  • Tim Lamch, Account Executive – Auto – Google Canada
  • Erik Radle, Ceo – Miller Ad Agency
  • Dennis Galbraith, Director Global Sales Operations – Expedia Media Solutions

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