When I rang in the New Year with my wife, Sue, and our family, I could scarcely believe that the flashing numbers on the television heralded 2-0-1-8. As a father and grandfather, I wondered what the future has in store for my family. And as a truck dealer, I wondered what it has in store for the commercial truck industry. If you’ve thought the same thing, I’m pleased to tell you about ATD’s new study, Commercial Truck Dealer Future Landscape. And it will help make sure that you and your dealerships have a bright and clear path ahead.
Truck dealers are working at breakneck speed to navigate an ever-evolving market and changing technology. The way we operated our stores even just a few years ago is not the same way we operate them today. The average truck dealer works extremely hard to meet the challenges that have come from the modern era—complex manufacturer and supplier demands, ever-increasing big data, government regulations and, above all, consumer demand. Last year ATD commissioned ACT Research, a recognized and leading publisher of commercial vehicle industry data in North America, to examine the future landscape of our market. After researchers held extensive qualitative interviews with noteworthy industry leaders, truck dealers, OEM representatives and other important stakeholders, four critical themes emerged—and I am eager to share one right now.
If you think the answer to all our problems lies in emerging technology or reduced regulation, think again! While our product is trucks, the ‘name of the game’ is people. The study identifies a dynamic I’ve emphasized throughout my tenure as ATD chairman: at its core a truck dealership is a people business. Of course, our stores survive based on our numbers and providing customers with revenue-generating uptime through product sales, service and parts, etc. However, an equally important facet of what we do revolves around managing our people. This includes recruiting our staff and giving them the constant training they need to remain competitive in today’s business, providing opportunities for management development so people can remain confident at the highest tier and fostering the cornerstones of any good business such as customer skills, employee loyalty and job satisfaction. The crystal ball says that if we put our people first, the robust numbers will follow.
ATD looks forward to unveiling the full results of this study during the ATD Show in Las Vegas, March 22-25. If you want a good look at our future, you must attend. Don’t miss the ATD Industry Roundtable panel where expert economists will discuss issues that impact your business today. New this year is an exclusive ATD Expo with hours before and after each general session located adjacent to the general session auditorium. I invite everyone to attend the ATD Welcome Reception on the ATD Expo floor as well as the final night Gala at Encore Beach Club. All ATD attendees can partake in the NADA Show’s programs. NADA will provide revved-up digital programs, more than 100 educational workshop sessions and dynamic lifestyle programs. Finally, exclusive OEM meetings are your chance to meet with top executives and plan for your 2018.
Here at ATD, we strive to remain forward looking and prepare for the challenges ahead. Because the truth is, our future is already here. We want to make sure you are ready for it. I look forward to seeing all of you in Las Vegas where we can navigate the landscape together!
Parker is chairman of ATD, a division of NADA in Tysons, Va., which represents more than 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships. He is president of Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum, Md., which operates five full-service commercial truck dealership locations with Mack, Volvo and Hino Trucks franchises in Maryland and Virginia.