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THIS year’s Australian Automotive Dealer Association Convention and Expo focuses on new car franchised dealers and what’s facing them in the near future.

Topics of vital interest to dealers and other members of the automotive industry will include operational changes, how to meet market demands, how EVs play a role in dealerships, the consumer journey, security in a new financial world, advocacy, and how to make sure the collective voice is heard. 

Throughout the AADA Convention and Expo’s two-day event, running from July 24 to July 25 in Melbourne, participants will also be exposed to experts from within the industry and from those who have a message that will benefit their business.

These experts include increasing numbers from overseas, confirming the AADA Convention and Expo position as a highly regarded, leading international event for automotive dealers.

In 2024, the AADA will welcome international guests including from North America, 2024 NADA chairman, Gary Gilchrist; NADA senior vice-president of Industry Affairs, Michael Regan; and Canadian Automobile Dealer Association CEO, Tim Reuss.

The convention also welcomes National Franchised Dealers Association UK director, Sue Robinson; and from the Chinese Automobile Dealers Association, chairman Mr Shen Jinjun and vice chairman Mr Song Tao.

The timetable to hear the presentations of these international visitors is in the AADA program.

The program for Thursday, July 25 opens at 7am with the AADA MotorOne Breakfast featuring Olympic swimmer Brooke Hanson OLY OAM.

Brook Hanson

Ms Hanson, an Olympic gold and silver medallist, now empowers people to live a purpose-driven life, motivating individuals and inspiring organisations to achieve greatness.

She continues to enjoy a successful career for herself as a television personality, product  ambassador and balances her professional media career with; motherhood, appearances, hosting, motivational  speaking, charity events, swim clinics and her commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for all Australians. 

At 9.30am, the Convention and Expo continues with the AADA youX special presentation ‘Emission Impossible? PHinding a way to EV…’ 

Presented by Deloitte Motor Industry Services partner Lee Peters and director Andrew Moore, it focuses on the rapid pace of the automotive industry.

Lee Peters – Deloitte Motor Industry Services

It discusses how the Australian market will be driven forward by electric vehicles, both BEVs and PHEVs. 

Deloitte speakers will focus on this being an orderly transition to electrification, and a transition period that can remain profitable for all industry stakeholders.  

At this session, Deloitte breaks down many of the key elements of the transition to electrification, and looks at how these will affect your dealership operations, and where your focus needs to be turned towards. 

At 3.30pm on Thursday, there will be a special presentation by AADA and VicRoads on ‘The Consumer Changeover Journey: What’s changed, and where are the opportunities?’ 

It discusses when consumers begin the process of updating their new or used car and it almost always starts online. For most, it quickly becomes a complex and, at times, a more frustrating and confusing experience than they had imagined it should be.

Michael Holmes – CEO of CarBee

Pitcher Partners and AutoGrab have undertaken a comprehensive research survey into the “Car Buying Changeover Journey”, providing unique insights into the complexity of the automotive changeover experience. 

These findings will challenge current thinking and processes, equipping dealers with a deeper understanding of the key consumer drivers and frustrations during the changeover from their current car to their next car purchase. 

Dealers will also gain insights into why consumers continue to predominantly transact at a dealership rather than online and how a better omnichannel strategy, including financing solutions, will pay big dividends to the digitally savvy dealer.

The AADA Convention’s “The Consumer Changeover Journey” panel will discuss the survey findings and best practice solutions for dealers determined to improve their customer’s experience by better understanding their expectations. 

Steve Bragg

The panel comprises moderator Michael Homes, the CEO of CarBee. The panel is AutoGrab chief product officer Stewart Bird; Pitcher Partners’ Motor Industry Services partner, Steven Bragg; Sime Darby Motor Group marketing and communications general manager Emma Doyle; and VicRoads’ sales director of commercial, Natalie Burrows.

An event many won’t want to miss is the Thursday AADA Carsales luncheon at 12:30pm, featuring Todd Sampson, described as a powerhouse of creativity and brainpower. 

Natalie Burrows – VicRoads

As the former national CEO of Leo Burnett and a current member of the board of directors at Qantas, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovative thinking  throughout his career. 

He is widely recognised for his intelligent and laconic style on the popular show The Gruen  Transfer, where he provides insightful commentary on advertising and media. 

In addition to his media presence, he is the creator and star of the acclaimed series Redesign My Brain, which showcases his inquisitive and adventurous mindset. His willingness to push boundaries and explore the limits of human potential is inspiring and thought-provoking

Stewart Bird – AutoGrab

In addition to the special presentations, the 2024 AADA Convention and Workshop Program continues with 21 sessions that will provide a wealth of information and insights that will improve a dealer’s operations through new technologies, best practice and innovative solutions to operational challenges. 

The AADA Workshop program will cover every aspect of today’s automotive dealerships including, sales, service and customer relations, staff training, CRM, dealership marketing including omnichannel solutions, AI in automotive and dealer-introduced consumer finance. 

The day ends with the closing keynote address by Sebastian Terry, a renowned expert in personal transformation, peak performance, and creating environments for success.

Emma Doyle – Sime Darby Motor Group

Mr Terry has shared his transformative message and frameworks with some of the world’s leading organisations, including Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Bank of America, and McKesson. 

His unique blend of humour, insightful storytelling, and actionable insights has captivated audiences worldwide, earning him recognition from ESPN, Discovery Channel, and beyond.

The closing address for the 2024 AADA Convention and Expo will be delivered by AADA CEO James Voortman.

By Neil Dowling

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