David Gesualdo

David Gesualdo

I am back in the office after staging two auto industry conferences in consecutive weeks. I am proud to say that Dealer Summit, which was held the first week of May in Tampa, and Agent Summit, which was held the following week in Las Vegas, drew big crowds of dealers and general agents, respectively. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I may have overextended myself. My wife, Martina, hit the nail on the head when she asked, as I neared collapse on Day Two of Agent Summit, “What were you thinking?”

I will tell you what I told her: These shows mean a lot to me. They are an extension of the magazines we publish. They are an opportunity to meet all of you in person and gather information about the work you do in a way that simply can’t be done by phone or email.

The vast majority of the work that goes into the show is performed weeks and months in advance. We leave no stone unturned in our search for knowledgeable and passionate speakers who can deliver real, timely, informative presentations on the topics you have identified as major areas of concern.

Compliance is always popular, and this issue includes three hard-hitting stories devoted to that topic.

First is our cover story, “Feed the Need,” by attorney and compliance expert Michael Maledon. The “need” in this equation is being driven by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a regulatory nemesis that has no direct jurisdiction over dealers but is affecting the way you do business via enforcement actions against your finance partners. The standards set by those actions create a need among dealers to solidify and fortify your fair-credit compliance policies before state regulators and private attorneys come knocking, armed with charges of discrimination as defined by know-nothing bureaucratic agencies.

Tom Hudson follows with “Look Within”, a frank and, at times, unpleasant examination of the origins of all those rules and regulations that keep popping up, seemingly out of nowhere. Not so, Hudson explains, nothing that bad behavior by the dealer down the street can snowball into the next consumer-advocacy craze. Would you sell a new Versa for $2,000 over sticker to a homeless, schizophrenic woman, and tack on a $2,275 service contract? Of course not. But a dealer in New Mexico did, and they — and, to some extent, their peers — are paying the price.

Finally, Jason Heard of Gerald Jones Honda returns to ask some hard questions about your bring-back policy. Is it three days? Five days? Seven? Or do you work on a case-by-case basis, opening the door to charges of discrimination? Turn to the back page to weigh your options and consider Jason’s hard-won advice.

This issue contains many more useful articles, and I hope you enjoy it. For those of you who made it to Dealer Summit, thank you for attending, and thank you for sharing new ideas for articles and writers. Those suggestions will bear fruit in future issues.

If you didn’t make it to the show, I hope to see you next year. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to write or call me to suggest a topic we haven’t covered that you believe would be of interest to your colleagues. And if you are a writer yourself, we are always looking for new contributors.

That’s all I have for the moment. Spring is here and playoff hockey is in full bloom. For you, the summer selling season has already begun. For me, it’s time to relax — for an hour or two, at least.