The advantages of buying a car through a local dealer are many. As dealers, we deliver in-person customer service that people can’t get through a computer screen; we are equipped to handle warranty and recall repairs; we incur billions of dollars in expenses for equipment and facilities; and we, unequivocally, reduce consumer costs through a competitive model that makes purchasing an expensive new car possible through dealer-assisted financing. For more than 100 years, consumers have relied on auto dealers to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective means of buying a car.
But does your member of Congress know that?
With the summer congressional recess upon us, you have the opportunity to tell them yourself. Members of Congress will be home this summer from July 31 through September 5, meeting with constituents like you. There is an especially important reason to visit with your member of Congress this summer: new self-driving vehicle legislation. We need to make sure that legislation that establishes the federal role in self-driving cars is not overly broad, and that state dealer franchise laws are preserved. We need to educate our officials on the importance of state franchise laws that help level the playing field between small business auto dealers and large multinational auto companies.
There are many other issues looming in Washington-tax reform, auto financing, FTC regulations-and this is your opportunity to build a line of communication with people who have the ability to make or break our industry. Now is the perfect time to invite a legislator to your dealership or meet them at their office. Visits with legislators take only about an hour, and NADA staff can help facilitate the appointment. During the visit, walk them around your dealership; give them the opportunity to meet and speak with your employees; and remind them of the financial benefits dealerships provide within your local community. As one of my professors at Northwood University always said, showing is so much more impactful than telling.
The August congressional recess presents a rare opportunity to educate our elected officials on our own home turfs and on our key policy issues. It is also our chance to remind them of who we are-more than 16,000 strong employing more than 1 million people throughout the nation. On behalf of NADA, I urge fellow dealers across the country to host your members of Congress at your dealerships soon. If you are interested in hosting a member of Congress at your dealership or meeting at a legislator’s district office, please contact Patrick Calpin, director of grassroots advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.547.5500.
While our congressmen, senators and children are enjoying a welcome reprieve for the summer, there is no rest for the hard-working and passionate men and women of the U.S. auto retail industry. Let’s make this August the most productive one yet for our industry!
Scarpelli is 2017 NADA chairman and president of Raymond Chevrolet and Raymond Kia in Antioch, Ill., and co-owner of Ray Chevrolet and Ray Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Fox Lake, Ill.