Interview with NIADA CEO - Jeff Martin

May 15, 2023| Zach Klempf

In this episode of the Used Car Dealer Podcast, Zach is joined by Jeff Martin, CEO of NIADA, for a preview of the upcoming NIADA Convention 2023, they touch on key topics like regulatory compliance, overcoming used industry challenges, building stronger dealerships, and networking with federal agencies.

Zach: This is the Used Car Dealer podcast. Zach here and we have an awesome guest on the podcast today, Jeff Martin, the new CEO of the NIADA. Jeff, thanks so much for coming on the pod today.

Jeff: Yeah, Zach, I appreciate it. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be with you today.

Zach: So Jeff, congrats again on this new role as CEO of the NIADA, I've known you since your TIADA days in Texas. How did this new opportunity come to be?

Jeff: That's a great question, Zach. Yes, we do way back when I was in Texas for a little over 16 years, running the association there. I have certainly had some conversations with people inside of NIADA in the past when opportunities would present themselves. I had a conversation with a couple of board members probably back in December and was not really interested in pursuing the position at that time. But after a few more conversations, we looked at some of the opportunities, and I felt like it was a good time for me in my life and where I was at and felt like I could probably bring some of the things that I've learned there in Texas that I could bring those to NIADA and just felt like it was a really unique opportunity.

Zach: That's so awesome. What are some of the big initiatives in NIADA for 2023?

Jeff: For 2023 obviously, we have a number of events that we're gonna be talking about a little bit later that I'm really excited about. There are also three things that the board is very committed to and I think as an association, we're gonna make sure that our dealer members understand the benefits. There's a CPO 360 program that I think create a lot of opportunities for our dealers. We also are gonna be working on the 20 groups, we've had 20 groups for quite some time, but as you know, the dealer performance groups just came back in and I think they're at the right place with NIADA. So we're gonna work on continuing to grow those 20 groups. And then the Certified Master Dealer program is something that has been around for a while. But it's, I'll say over the last couple of years, it's probably had some struggles. And so we're really gonna focus on getting that program back introduced into our membership and giving people an opportunity to apply for and continue their certified Master Dealer initiatives.

Zach: So, Jeff, we're about 50 days away from NIADA Accelerate 2023. It's being held at one of my favorite hotels in Las Vegas, the Wynn, June 19th to the 22nd. So what are the primary reasons someone should attend accelerate this year?

Jeff: Yeah, first of all, the Wynn is a great property. But you know, traditionally conventions offer education, they offer networking, they offer unique opportunities in the expo. I think one of the primary reasons that you should think about attending this year is not just because of the education, it's because of the education that we're providing. We're gonna have the CFPB, the FTC, and the IRS. It's important to come not only to get the education because I know that so many of our dealers want to be compliant, they want to learn from the agencies and what it is that they're looking for. But Zach, it also sends a really strong message as an association. Part of our responsibility is to make sure that we're growing the influence of the association. When these federal agencies show up at your convention, it shows that you're really strong in numbers. The attendance at our convention will speak volumes to these federal agencies as we continue to work with them down the road. So one of the primary reasons you would want to be there is not just because of the education, not just because of the networking, not just because of the Expo, but because we have that relationship with the federal agencies and it gives us that opportunity to send that message.

Zach: So who should be brought from the dealership to this event? General manager, finance manager, like who else should attend?

Jeff: It's a great question. I mean, whether you're a single point operator, you have multiple rooftops, we have something for everyone. Whether you're buy here, pay here or you're a retail dealer, this convention is definitely for you. Anyone in management, whether it's operations or collections, we're going to have education provided for those individuals.

Zach: And how long have you been involved with NIADA and attending their conventions?

Jeff: Well, attending their conventions, from my role at TIADA, I've attended at least for 16 years now. I don't think I've missed one in 16 years. So I've seen a lot of NIADA conventions.

Zach: And what makes this year's expo different or unique for dealers?

Jeff: Well, first of all, we have over 200 vendors and I mentioned earlier the networking, we have a lot of experts that are gonna be in that Expo. So I always encourage people to manage their time and think about how they're gonna get through that Expo and see the vendors that they want to see. But another thing that's different this year is we're gonna have a little bit of education in the Expo to kind of break that up. We understand that people's learning styles are very different. Some people like the sit and get, some people like the panels, these service bays or what we're calling them, they're 15 to 20 minutes. It gives you an opportunity to hear from some of our vendors as they present their product, they present their service. And then if you want to go visit with them a little bit more in depth at their booth, you have the opportunity to do that.

Zach: And what can dealers expect to gain from the convention and Expo that will help them create a near immediate positive impact at their dealership?

Jeff: That's a great question. And I kind of alluded to this earlier. When I go to conventions, part of what I do is I put a game plan together. Our agenda is already out there online, go and identify what classes you want to attend. Make sure that if you're bringing multiple people from your dealership, you know who's attending what classes, make sure that you're taking notes. Do the same thing with the Expo, put together a game plan of vendors that you definitely need to make sure that you go and visit and then I would also encourage you.
Jeff: Whenever I attend an event, I make sure to come back with at least two new contacts, be it from the hallway, breakfasts, lunches or dinners. This makes me accountable because I tell these individuals that I'll give them a call once I'm back at the office. We'll discuss what we did at the convention, and bounce ideas off of each other. For me, that's the easiest way to make an immediate impact because you've got a game plan going in and when you come back, if you've made contact with one or two individuals, those individuals will help keep you accountable going forward.

Zach: So, Jeff, tell us a little more about what else attendees can expect from NIADA and the Expo Hall. I've heard rumors that one of the all-time greatest boxers might even be there.

Jeff: Yes, that's right! Sugar Ray Leonard will be our keynote speaker. We're excited about having him, not only because he's a boxing legend, but also because his presentation is about overcoming adversity and developing a powerful mindset, which is very relevant to our dealers given all the changes we see in the industry. 

Zach: What are your thoughts on the outlook for the used car marketplace this year?

Jeff: What excites me is the change. Change creates opportunities. With rising interest rates and the struggle to find inventory, I think this creates a challenging environment. It reminds me of 2008 and 2009. Coming out of those years, we had some really strong dealers and the associations were very strong. So, that’s exciting for me. Also, being new here at NIADA, I'm excited about focusing on compliance. We need to be the leader in compliance, to help our dealers understand new rules and how to implement them.

Zach: The June NIADA conference is not the only event that NIADA puts on. What are some other events in 2023?

Jeff: In September, we have our policy conference which will be in Washington DC. This year, we're going back to making visits on the hill. Any dealer interested in the legislative side of the association should mark the dates of our policy conference in September on their calendar. We'll be in Washington DC doing some training one day and then spend a full day on the hill talking with legislators. Another event we have in November is the Buy Here Pay Here forum in Indianapolis. We'll be doing some unique things like dealer round tables and larger panels moderated by dealers.

Zach: If a dealer is listening and they're not yet a member of the NIADA, why should they join?

Jeff: Trade associations are member-owned, member-governed. Our primary responsibility should be growing the influence of the association to best represent the interests of the dealers. If you're not a member of the association, I would encourage you to join. If you join your state association, you automatically become a member of the national association. The governance part is very important too, coming to the conventions, coming to the events, making sure that you're actively participating and electing the leaders of your association, which are car dealers just like you. Associations build platforms to give people a voice. But the dealer has to actually participate in that platform for it to be effective.

Zach: Definitely agreed. And Jeff, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. You've really got me excited about NIADA this year. For the dealers listening, how do they sign up for their pass to go to NIADA?

Jeff: You can register online at NIADA. We're doing a special, if you register before this Wednesday, your name will go into a drawing for a three-night stay at a suite at the Wynn property. Just go to the NIADA website, click on events and there's a convention button there. You can register that way.

Zach: Awesome. Well, Jeff, thanks again for coming on the podcast. I'll see you in June at the Wynn.

Jeff: Looking forward to it, Zach. Thank you very much.

Tags: automotive crm Digital Retail used car dealers automotive industry auto industry NADA NIADA zach klempf jeff martin NIADA 2023 Las Vegas

Discover how
to increase
sales 30%

and give your dealership that extra edge!

Download the Guide: Automotive CRMs for Used Car Dealers