Now that the dust from NADA has settled — and as we prepare for Agent Summit — we wanted to take a few minutes to look at the main themes we saw trending most strongly throughout the show.

1. Technology. One of the interesting themes at NADA was that dealer technology is going to be key in the years to come — but only if done correctly. As Greg Arroyo, the executive editor at F&I and Showroom magazine noted in the weeks leading up to NADA, “Understand that the evolution of retail automotive technology has been happening right before our eyes. Software makers have spent the last five to six years testing, studying, tinkering and learning from past attempts at revolutionizing the in-dealership experience.”

He reiterated that sentiment when we ran into him at NADA. That doesn’t mean, however, that the F&I office or F&I managers are obsolete — far from it. People are still the heart of the operation, and software vendors have started focusing on enhancing the customer buying experience with F&I managers still at the center of the transaction, rather than trying to replace them completely.

2. A Unified Approach. You can’t talk about technology without looking at the Internet and the impact it has had on the automotive industry. Another important trend at NADA this year is based on the new norm that dealers need to embrace: consumers are researching their cars online. It is no longer an anomaly — the average consumer is walking in the door with research in hand on the car they are considering, the options offered on it, and the selling price at other dealerships.

This means that dealers today, more than ever before, need to have a unified approach to the car-buying experience. Whether the consumer visits the website, walks in the door or calls the dealership, they need see to the same materials, get the same pricing and be offered the same F&I products.

3. Data Security. With all this increased technology and Internet-connected selling, dealers, like all modern businesses, are going to find themselves more open to attacks by hackers and other cyber criminals. Smaller businesses — such as dealerships — are a prime target because of the wide range of consumer financial and personal information collected during a transaction. Dealerships may not have the same security in place that large banks and corporations do. This was a topic of much conversation at NADA this year, and we hope it inspired agents, dealers and our fellow providers to continue to make data security a priority.

4. Evolution. Leaving the show, we were struck by the fact that the automotive industry is a living thing; it is constantly evolving and changing, adapting to new technologies and the ways in which consumers want to use them. It was an important reminder for all of us here at RoadVantage — we strive to be a visionary company that makes a difference in the crowded F&I market, and to do that, we must constantly be looking ahead.

We had a great time at NADA 2016. As always, it was an amazing opportunity to get a true feel for the pulse of the industry, and get a sneak peek at where the next 12 months will take us. We enjoyed getting to know everyone we were able to meet with in person, and to those of you we didn’t get to talk to, we’ll see you at Agent Summit in May!

This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO, RoadVantage

Published: April 21, 2016

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