Starting—and growing—a dealership takes more than just a business plan and a license. There’s a lot that happens outside the boundaries of your lot that directly impacts your business. And no matter if you have a team of employees or operate solo, staying up to date on changing regulations, technology, and opportunities while operating a dealership can be overwhelming.
Enter your local independent automobile dealer association. With the 75th NIADA convention right around the corner, now is the perfect time to join, renew, or re-prioritize your membership with NIADA as well as your state association. Here are seven reasons why being a member of your local group is good for business:
Whether you’re just getting started or have been running a dealership for decades, your local dealer association can be a resource for pre-license or continuing education seminars. And with rules and regulations differing from state to state, having a resource dedicated to dealers within your boundaries means the information you’re getting is accurate and relevant to your market.
What happens in Washington, DC certainly doesn’t stay in DC, and the same goes for your state capitol building. But unless you’ve set aside time every legislative session to advocate for the industry, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a voice representing your best interests as significant decisions are made. Supporting your state dealer association is the next best thing, as their lobbyists and committees are dedicated to advancing laws in your best interest.
Association events like this one are an excellent way to share what’s working (and what’s not) with your peers–and hear their experiences as well. Both state and national events are invaluable opportunities to meet with fellow dealers and other industry professionals and learn from their business practices. Remember, as a business owner, sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. The chance to create and then leverage relationships that benefit your dealership is a huge selling point for members.
With so much of the car-buying process happening online, consumers are laser-focused on finding more than just the best deal. Businesses that are known to be reliable and customer-centric will stand out among the competition, especially in an industry that hasn’t always had a stellar reputation. While managing your online reputation should always be top of mind, being an active member of prominent dealer associations goes a long way to prove your commitment to running a compliant business. And it’s not just prospective buyers that care—even lenders take association participation into account when evaluating new partnerships. Whether you’re a new or longtime member, be sure to feature your involvement in your website and marketing materials.
While membership will cost an annual fee, it can pay to join, as this calculator from TIADA shows. Auction discounts and deals sponsored by industry vendors can save your dealership money in the long run. Plus, featured guidance on how to select the right product or partner can help you get the most out of your budget. Associations also maintain a service provider directory letting you know what businesses are affiliated with the organization, acting as a referral when you’re searching for a solution.
6) Consumer Advocacy
Dealer associations are also consumer advocates, focusing on maintaining or enhancing customer service standards and buyer protections. In fact, the NIADA centers truth and accuracy, integrity, and serving the public as major tenets in their Code of Ethics. When buyers feel protected, everyone benefits.
7) Community Service
Serving your community can be a significant addition to your dealership’s value proposition. However, it’s not always easy to find out how to make a difference and get involved. Your local association is most likely one step ahead of you, coordinating volunteer initiatives to support community efforts and help you give back.
In today’s market, it’s crucial to take advantage of any opportunity that can help you improve your business. For more information on your state and local dealer associations, visit the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.