Lessons from the NADA Convention

February 12, 2013 / John Paul Strong / 0 Comments /

Along with about 30,000 other people I attended the National Auto Dealers Association convention last weekend in Orlando. While this isn’t something I do every year, it is fun to go from time to time to see what the latest inventions are, catch a seminar or two and mostly run into some old friends and dealer clients.

image courtsey NADA

image courtsey NADA

One of our dealers told me, “There is so much stuff here, it is just overwhelming.” This was probably somewhere between the Manheim Auction booth and the guy selling the tire balancing machine booth. He said, “There is so much in our industry to choose from that to remain effective in today’s market you have to pick out the things you want your dealership to do well and focus on those very intensely.”  He was talking about all the different inventions, gimmicks, promotional ideas and anything else that someone was trying to sell you.

It was a very good point that didn’t really register in my mind until later. I was thinking about the best run and most profitable dealerships that are our clients. They are regimented in what they will and will not do. They know the DNA of their dealership, their customers, and their employees which means they know the speed at which they can run. We use a saying in our company that there are different needs for different speeds, and NADA was a real reminder of that.

You cannot be all things to all people. If you try to please everyone then you will probably end up pleasing nobody at all. I think a dealership should be run the exact same way by sticking to their core competencies and maximizing what can be done through those.

About the author

John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as a fresh-faced account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” feature and the 2017 CEO Awards. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.


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