By Jeff Gilbert

ORLANDO — (WWJ) With rising sales and improving profits, the nation’s car dealers are in a pretty good mood as they hold their annual meeting.

“Dealers are feeling real good, and just want to continue onward and upward with what’s happening in the industry,” says Steve Findlay, editor of Ward’s Dealer Business.

This year’s National Automobile Dealers Association convention comes as the industry moves further from recessions and dealer closings.  The three-day long convention wraps up on Monday.   A study done by Ally Financial indicates most  dealers expect their sales to grow by more than ten percent this year.

“We expect 2013 to be a strong year for the auto industry as the economy and consumer credit profiles steadily improve and as new models attract customers to showrooms,” said Tim Russi , president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.  “We met with many dealers at NADA who reinforced our position and share our optimism and passion to make it happen.”

The dealers are hearing from a number of executives, who share their positive outlook.  The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates the industry will sell 15.4 million vehicles this year, an increase of about a million sales from 2012.

A top Ford executive told the meeting that he doesn’t expect this weekend’s snowstorm to affect February sales.   The underlying issues remain relatively minor compared to the issues dealers faced a few years ago.  Dealers are concerned about recruiting employees with the necessary skills, and having adequate inventories of their best selling products.

There’s also the recurring controversy over car companies demands that dealers upgrade their stores, and make the uniform from city-to-city.

“Dealers are saying ‘why,” says Wards editor Findlay.

The dealers say there’s no proof their large investments will pay off.   The car companies have been offering to share the costs of dealership improvements.


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