Traffic might have been down but suppliers were happy with the dealer engagement and leads generated.
The 2022 NADA Show returned to its normal format this year with a physical event, following a year in which it had to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it provided suppliers with face-to-face opportunities to promote new products with existing customers and cultivate new ones.
The event took place March 10-13 at the new Las Vegas Convention Centre and was hyped as the automotive event of the year and possibly the biggest show in the NADA’s history of more than 100 years.
Most suppliers told Canadian auto dealer that attendance seemed down compared to the 2020 show in Las Vegas. The show organizers do not provide registration numbers, though spokesperson Juliet Guerra said the energy and excitement for the first in-person event was “spectacular” with strong representation from dealers, OEMs, exhibitors and attendees.
“If they were trying to hype it as the biggest one ever, probably not, but it was very well-attended,” said Greg Wallin, Vice-President of CDK Global, which produces data and technology to the automotive, heavy truck, recreation and heavy equipment industries.
Wallin acknowledged it was one of the more exciting shows for CDK, certainly from a Canadian standpoint, because it provided a chance to talk about the digital retail platform company called Roadster that it acquired in June 2021.
Wallin said the Roadster technology provides “modern retail workflow” that allows consumers to go through a sales process as far as they want before coming into the dealership to test drive cars. He said it also allows the dealership to embrace what the client has already done online.
“The Roadster technology provides “modern retail workflow” that allows consumers to go through a sales process as far as they want before coming into the dealership to test drive cars.” — Greg Wallin, Vice-President of CDK Global
“Most of the Canadian attendees were coming to look primarily at that,” said Wallin. “It is a unique offering in the marketplace. There’s a lot of digital retailing companies out there, but we’re about the only ones that really have the end-to-end workflow figured out and building toward that. There was a lot of excitement around that and the other big piece the clients were coming in to see was how we’re re-imaging our software. From a user interface perspective, we’ve done a lot of work to make it really easy and personalize and they can access CDK how they want.”
Kevin Preston, Vice President, Sales for PBS Systems, a Calgary-headquartered dealer management systems company, said it seemed as though people were more eager to engage this year at the NADA show.
“Historically people would walk by booths and tend to keep to themselves a little bit more—they were on an agenda trying to get somewhere—but it seemed this time they were eager to see what’s new in the market, what is the world really doing?” he said.
“Obviously that would have to do with the fact they’ve been closed out from the world the last couple of years. We found the quality of our conversations was infinitely better than it’s ever been before. We would call this a huge success. We ended up with way more leads out of it than we would have ever had in the past. That was significant for us.”
He said the company used the opportunity to teach dealers how to use data in their favour.
“PBS has been around for over 30 years and is the most modern platform in the industry,” he said. “The Canadians all know us, so it’s more about educating them on what they can do with that modern platform. We’ve been in the U.S. market for over a decade, but a lot of them don’t understand that there is, in fact, a mature, modern platform that’s re-designed the software right from the ground up. You have other companies that seem to have a lot of hype because they are telling a modern story. We tell the exact same story, but we also bring a level of experience in the fact we’ve designed a product so many times we’ve learned decades ago that they are just figuring it out right now.”
Kelly Noren, Vice-President of Operations at Safe-Guard Products International, which is a leading provider of branded vehicle protection products in the finance and insurance space to the automotive, RV, marine and motorcycle/powersports industries, said the 2022 show was welcomed by many in the automotive industry.
“What stood out to me the most was people physically reconnecting after so long and reconnecting the dots on how we all work together in some fashion to support our industry,” she said. “There was definitely a ‘we can do this’ and ‘we’re in this together’ feeling.”
Safe-Guard Products did not launch any new products, but supported one of its newest U.S. clients, Autotrader, with the launch of their Cover My Car program, which was unveiled this year to dealers and has begun enrollment in the program.
“We received strong traffic to the Safe-Guard Products booth,” she said. “Overall, it was a very positive turnout with very positive energy.”
John Peron, Managing Director, Canadian Operations, of Hunter Engineering, a provider of alignment, wheel and tire service, inspection and ADAS calibration equipment, said his booth had lots of activity for each of the company’s demonstrations.
“We had a lot of support visually through 3D virtual animation, specific to trends in the industry such as ADAS, EV systems and vehicles that are coming up,” he said.
“The focus from our booth was delivering solutions for current industry initiatives including collision and ADAS, mobile truck services, shop efficiencies and service drive through CSI expectations. All are contained within the goals of improving the customer experience at the dealership, while having technology to elevate revenue opportunities in the fixed operations.”
“There was definitely a ‘we can do this’ and ‘we’re in this together’ feeling.” — Kelly Noren, Vice-President of Operations at Safe-Guard Products International
Tekion Canada, which is building the world’s best business applications on the cloud, released multiple products as part of its all-in-one platform Automotive Retail Cloud: (1) Automotive Enterprise Cloud, a seamless retail experience from OEM brand websites to stores; (2) Digital Retail, providing a retail experience that allows dealerships and customers to easily transition the process from any device anywhere from online to in-store and vice-versa; (3) Automotive Partner Cloud, an open API solution for dealerships’ developers to integrate data from third-party apps into the Tekion platform.
Tekion Founder/CEO Jay Vijayan delivered a speech entitled “The Future of Automotive Retail, Creating A Win-Win Ecosystem.”
Greg Uland, Vice-President, Brand Marketing, for Reynolds & Reynolds, said the 2022 show was “one of the best in recent memory for his company.
“NADA did an outstanding job as always and our booth traffic was much higher than in years past,” said Uland. “Dealers were excited to rediscover Reynolds and we are excited to ride the momentum forward.”
He said the company had several topics of interest to dealers.
“Firstly, is the ability to retail anywhere and be able to serve customers no matter where they are—online, in-store or a combination of the two—and do it in a way that doesn’t sacrifice what is important to the business, specifically control and profitability on the deal, accuracy of the transaction and efficiency of employees,” he said.
He added dealers and lenders were interested in the benefits of eContracting because it doesn’t require paper, storage, postage and re-signs, which dramatically reduced contracts for dealers in transit time.
“At Reynolds, we have created a new team with dedicated resources to focus on this area and have made tremendous progress,” he said.
He said in the area of fixed operations, dealers were very focused on convenience for customers, technicians and advisors. He said it allows customers to approve work and make payments remotely, after hours drop-off and pick up, and finding ways to allow technicians to stay in their bays throughout the day.
Rousseau Metal, which specializes in the manufacture of high-density modular storage systems for automotive dealerships and car enthusiasts, had a memorable experience at the show, according to Robert Dussault, Director of Sales, United States. He said it was great seeing existing partners and customers and engaging with potential new customers.
“Dealers and lenders were interested in the benefits of eContracting because it doesn’t require paper, storage, postage and re-signs, which dramatically reduced contracts for dealers in transit time.” — Greg Uland, Vice-President, Brand Marketing, Reynolds & Reynolds
“The crowds may have been down slightly from previous years, but the interest we received from our new innovative products like our sliding utility panels for shelving and our award-winning R2V vertical drawers made the show so successful,” said Dussault. “We look forward to showcasing even more innovative products at NADA 2023.”
Alex Wojcik, Vice-President of Sales of Kimobi, a leading North American cloud-based business instant messaging solution that streamlines internal business operations and provides innovative customer service solutions, said the vibe was different at this year’s show.
“I’ve been going to the NADA for a few years and you could definitely tell this year was special,” said Wojcik. “We met more dealers than ever before. Everyone was excited to get back together and finally connect in person post-pandemic. We successfully unveiled a lot of product improvements and shared the great news of our ACE Marketplace acquisition.”
Matador.ai, which is a leading customer engagement platform for automotive marketers, seized the opportunity to connect with both new & existing clients at the show, said Kevin Esmezyan, Head of Growth and Marketing. He said 11 company members, representing Sales, Customer Success and Management were in attendance.
“We’ve developed many virtual-friendships with clients and partners with whom we were finally given the pleasure of meeting in-person,” he said. “It was a pleasure to give dealers a sneak peek on how the industry will transition to a hybrid human/AI workforce creating a new breed of automated dealerships in the coming years.”
Esmezyan said Matador.ai released three new products: Matador Fingerprint, Matador Promotions and Matador Deliverability.
“As most dealers are aware, 96 per cent of website visitors don’t submit leads,” said Esmezyan. “Matador Fingerprint automatically connects with users the instant they’re back in-market. This feature leverages your CRM data and, through a cookieless proprietary probabilistic identity resolution model, will automatically engage in a conversation with users the instant they’re back in-market before they submit a lead.”
He said Matador Promotions provides website visitors with a seamless swipe-to-conversation shopping experience, removing the friction that exists when submitting a lead and delivering a customer who is already engaged in conversation.
As for Matador Deliverability, unlike most SMS first engagement platforms, Matador has been focused on addressing the issue of deliverability and is at the forefront of deliverability scoring and optimization. Approximately 30 per cent of SMS sent by businesses are being blocked by carriers. Matador’s solution is to automatically optimize this on your behalf and even recommend alternative messages to help you engage more customers.
360.Agency, which is a leading expert in implementing high-level marketing strategies and producing interactive web and mobile applications for automotive dealers and automotive dealer groups, received good traffic at its booth, said company CEO/President Louis-Yves Cloutier.
“One of our hot topics for this year was our new Inventory Merchandising App, Pixel Guru,” he said. “Pixel Guru is a company out of Quebec, which we acquired last summer. In the last few months, we received great reviews from dealers outside of Quebec and we even onboarded this product in GMCA, Mercedes-Benz Canada and Jaguar Land Rover Canada digital programs. Pixel Guru is a Mobile application powered by AI, helping dealers take professional look vehicle’s pictures to display on the website and third-party sites. At NADA, we had a lot of traffic from American dealers, which materialized in signing our first dealers there (for Pixel Guru).
“It was a pleasure to give dealers a sneak peek on how the industry will transition to a hybrid human/AI workforce creating a new breed of automated dealerships in the coming years.” —Kevin Esmezyan, Head of Growth and Marketing, Matador.ai
“After launching Desking360 18 months ago, we had a lot of talk this year about our omni-channel retailing platform. When you combine our Showroom360 digital retailing and our Desking360 quoting platforms, you end up with a fully integrated and unique online to in-store retailing management system. We are looking forward to next year, with even more innovation to help dealers go through the digital transformation that is underway.”
NCM Associates Inc., which creates solutions and best practices for new- and pre-owned dealers, OEMs and business operators in more than 20 industries throughout North America, had great traction at its booth, said Kory Suppes, Business Development Manager.
“It was amazing being back in person and having conversations face-to-face versus a virtual call,” he said. “I was impressed with the number of attendees and the engagement they had with NCM’s products and services.”
NCM highlighted its automotive 20 Group peer collaboration model, which brings together similar, non-competing business owners from a broad-section to exchange best practices, experiences, ideas and strategies.
Next year’s NADA Show is slated for Dallas, Texas from January 26-29, 2023.