First female NIADA CEO shares her auto retail insights for 2023

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association has selected its first female leader in its 75 year history.

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association has selected its first female leader in its 75 year history. Melanie Wilson is the organization’s new interim CEO, and she has exciting plans for its future. The decision to place Wilson in the driver’s seat of NIADA is not just important for the association, but the industry itself. In the first installment of this Inside Automotive exclusive interview, she joins host Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss the state of auto-retail the vision she has for NIADA. Keep an eye out for part two coming soon!

Wilson notes that the last few years of automotive retail have shown that the strategies used in the past simply do not work anymore. The industry has suffered supply chain disruptions, inventory shortages and other economic hindrances in an unpredictable fashion for multiple years in a row, with little end in sight. Adaptability is now key for dealership success. “The best way to move forward in 2023 is to expect the unexpected,” she explains. What does this mean for NIADA? Wilson believes that dealerships must learn how to transition into areas they may not have experience in. Her and her colleagues at the association will be spending 2023 formatting their agendas around the changes in the industry, rather than fighting the inevitable, providing education and support for independent retailers throughout the coming transition.

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For example, one of the greatest challenges facing the industry is its lack of digital support for customers who prefer to car shop online. Wilson plainly states that e-commerce brands such as Carvana are here to stay, even in spite of their recent difficulties, simply because they fulfill their clients need for convenience and flexibility. Those needs, she notes, are never going away, and storefronts must begin to address this new form of competition before they start to lose customers. Digital retail advice will be vital for car businesses of the future, and NIADA will be ready to guide them in the coming years.

While uncertainty is the theme for 2023, there is still much to look forward to. Wilson’s appointment is a fantastic sign of how much the industry has grown, and as auto-retail develops it will need pragmatic leaders like her who prioritize education and adaptability. While dealerships may no longer be able to prevent change, they can still meet whatever the year throws at them with confidence in NIADA.

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