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Training and networking overseas



Training means comparing different systems, being open to interesting reflections



Stefano Brindani

NADA is an event organized by the National Automobile Dealer Association, which took place from February 14 to 17 in the setting of the Convention Centre in Las Vegas, where key manufacturers and dealers gathered for a three-day event full of meetings. In the exhibition area, in fact, the companies present at the event - about 500, according to the organizers' data - showed all the latest news in terms of products and technologies. Training received adequate space with a series of meetings and debates organized within the "NADA Show Education", where vital issues were discussed with a series of experts, such as focus on new technologies for dealers and repairers, on digital and marketing strategies to optimize online and offline presence, along with personnel management, team building and the development of managerial and leadership skills - aspects particularly dear to "colleagues" overseas. What matters is to know and be known! Training is the engine that promotes a constant evolution, crucial in facing the changes of an increasingly challenging market, while networking is the tool through which ideas circulate and lasting partnerships are built. It is therefore necessary, now more than ever, to be ready for the new challenges posed by the market and the relentless technological evolution sweeping through the sector, and to face these without distrust. As Rhett Ricart, president and CEO of Ricart Automotive Group and new president of the NADA association, pointed out, "the new players in the sector are not 'disruptors'. They are just “new”. The beauty of our business is that we feed off these challenges." The important thing, therefore, is to be able to turn novelties into opportunities, and this applies as much to dealers (the category that Ricart directly targets and which, as he himself says, must constantly "reinvent itself") as to car repairers.

Events during the NADA Show were also attended, among others, by 12 car repairers from the  Vicenza area, belonging to Confartigianato, who stopped at the Convention Centre in Las Vegas at the end of the tour organized by Valter Fabris, project manager CI.TE.MO.S, Roberto Cazzaro, provincial president of Carrozzieri Confartigianato Imprese di Vicenza, in collaboration with Fabio Uglietti of Quattroruote Professional and Promotec, which allowed the group to get in touch with some important realities of the sector overseas. Before reaching Las Vegas, in fact, the entrepreneurs visited Fletcher Jones, the largest Mercedes dealer in the world, located in Newport Beach, California. Furthermore, the group also visited two Collision Centres (body shops) in the San Diego area, Penske Automotive Collision Center (owned by one of the world's largest dealerships), and Carrillo's Auto Body (an independent body shop). During the visits, these Italian entrepreneurs had the opportunity to discuss strategic management issues: among the issues discussed were customer management, which in the U.S. means using models based on satisfaction and - consequently - on the online reputation of the centre itself. Further discussions included the relationship between independent body shops and dealer groups within the American market.

With regard to what had been seen and learned, Roberto Cazzaro, provincial president of Confartigianato imprese Vicenza, bodywork division, noted that: "as far as the equipment used, in some respects, Italian body shops are even more evolved and looking at the work environment we have nothing to envy, on the contrary, on some aspects related to safety, Italian regulations are certainly more stringent. On the approach with customers and the market, particularly after having seen how an independent operates in work spaces and processes, we can certainly draw some useful lessons".

The journey made it possible to compare two models of market and business management: while, on the one hand, Italian coachbuilders can rely on cutting-edge equipment more than their American colleagues, on the other one cannot help but notice an approach markedly oriented towards profit, marginality and turnover on the part of overseas entrepreneurs. An approach that, taking into account the different market conditions (think, for example, of the taxation system, clearly different from each other), might prompt a whole new series of relevant reflections.

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