Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

Ward’s conducted a series of conversations with U.S. dealers in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Assn.’s annual convention in New Orleans to find out what’s on their minds. The following is an interview with Kia dealer David Brady of Huntsville, AL.

Ward’s: Obviously 2008 was tough. How are you compensating for that as a dealer?

Brady: We actually had a record year. If the media would have just shut their mouths, we never would have known we were in a recession here (in Huntsville). In August, someone said we were in a recession, and the public started responding to it. We trimmed expenses; we cut back on personnel; we renegotiated our contracts on advertising and got substantial discounts from our radio and TV stations. And we focused on doing things right – working every deal for every cent that’s on it.

Ward’s: What are some top issues for your brand, and what are some things you think Kia needs to do for its dealers?

Brady: The manufacturer is giving us tremendous support right now. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m probably not your best interview, because Kia (Motors Corp.), unlike other manufacturers, is really stepping up to help their dealers right now. For example, normally our dealer cash (dealer incentives) is around $1,000. We have up to $3,500 in dealer cash on certain ’08s.

Along with that they gave us up to $5,000 on rebates – there’s $8,500 laying out there on a lot of these ’08 models, so we can get rid of them by February to clean out our inventory. Kia has really got its hand on the pulse of the market right now, and they are helping us out quite a bit.

Ward’s: Was there anything unique you tried in 2008, perhaps focusing more on the Internet?

Brady: It’s funny you should bring up the Internet. We didn’t focus on it until the last quarter of the year. We’ve really got involved with it since then. There will be continued focus on the Internet in 2009. We are going to make sure we can offer the public a great deal – people are looking for a deal, and that’s what is going to get them out to purchase a vehicle.

Ward’s: Any good books you’ve read lately?

Brady: Not really. When you are in a market like this, you are not playing nearly as much golf. You are spending a lot of time worrying about your business.

Ward’s: What do you drive on a day-to-day basis?

Brady: I’m driving an Amante. I’m pretty high on the Kia brand right now. They have a lot of exciting things in the works. As it stands right now, every car that we have in manufacturing will be redesigned by 2011. We have a lot of new product coming, and we have a new factory that’s coming to Georgia, opening up in November. It’s bringing a lot of excitement. At a time when other manufacturers are pulling back, Kia is going full steam ahead, and we think this is going to be a great year.

Ward’s: Will you be traveling to New Orleans for this year’s NADA convention?

Brady: I typically don’t do it, because it coincides with one of my 20 Groups. I get so much out of that group – we have some great dealers in it. We really focus on coming up with some good game plans for our stores.

dstark@wardsauto.com