This year’s National Automobile Dealer Association conference and expo didn’t look much different from past events. The format was the same as we would expect, there were conference workshops, MainStage keynotes, and the hustle-and-bustle-filled exhibit halls.
But it felt different. I’m not sure I even know how to articulate it fully at the time of writing this, but there was a more hopeful feeling in the air — an optimism that seems to rule the airwaves beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before.
Could it be that this was on the heels of a pandemic and now we are longing for the human touch once again? Perhaps.
And it wasn’t just me. There were many others who shared that this time around things felt different. I’m not sure if that’s because we all just made it through a global pandemic; perhaps that has something to do with it.
The focus, however, seemed to have moved from shiny objects to people and processes. It’s as if the message we’ve been sharing for the last decade on the show, and really standing up to voice is beginning to see its time in the spotlight.
I recently posted about the end of the hype era on LinkedIn, which has triggered some interesting insights and conversations.
For example, there was an emphasis on the fact that the best tools won’t work unless we do. That’s a large departure from how we’ve historically approached tools in the industry with much of the emphasis being on the tool solving the problem and not the capacity of the people at the store who utilize the tool.
I think that the pandemic forced our industry forward by at least 5 years and in large part helped us understand how truly important having the right people is to achieving success. That is something I hope sticks with us for a while so that we can approach our day-to-day operations with a little more kindness, empathy, and understanding of one another's needs.
There was also a much more refined articulation around how long it actually takes to achieve success. I think we’re quickly approaching the end of an era where online gurus drove home instant gratification messaging and who built juggernaut revenue streams on the back of empty, non-typical outcome promises.
It was amazing to re-connect with the industry again and to feel a refreshed energy and realistic approach to the car business. It was very cool to feel the hope and enthusiasm of the industry about the future.