A little over 12 months ago Dealer interests were being inadequately represented – but now Dealers have an Association that works.
In the grand scheme of things, 12 months truly is a drop in the ocean, especially in the life of an association responsible for protecting the long-term interests of its industry and members.
Yet on reflection with AADA Chairman Ian Field, CEO Patrick Tessier and Policy Director Michael Deed, the list of AADA achievements for 2014 is great.
Ian Field gets straight to business:
‘Before the current AADA, there was a total disconnect. Dealers barely had a relationship with their peak body, which had virtually no mechanisms in place for communicating the real challenges Dealers face.’
Indeed, the revitalisation of AADA marked an historic moment in Australia’s retail auto industry, with the creation of an association run by Dealers, for Dealers. And some of the most experienced of them make up the current AADA board.
‘It was important for us to form a board of practiced and influential Dealer members’ Mr Field said. ‘From the outset, the aim has been to establish our credentials as a balanced and respected organisation, which also represents good public policy.’
Speaking of policy, AADA’s participation in Government decision making has never been more active, and its hard work is being recognised and rewarded.
Major submissions have been made to the Government by the AADA, on incredibly important issues that will shape the way Dealers do business in the future. From submissions to the Productivity Commission on large-scale grey imports, to rallying for the abolishment of the Luxury Car Tax – AADA has been at the forefront of policy topics.
‘Our mission is to make thorough, well-considered submissions to the Government’ explains Michael Deed.
‘A proactive association, like AADA, allows Dealers to get on with their day-to-day business, whilst we advocate at the highest levels of government to help maintain a fair and sustainable operating environment for our members’, he said.
Not only has AADA made several major submissions this year, but it has been recognised by key government figures.
Last year, at an appearance before the Productivity Commission, Deputy Chairman Woods highlighted AADA as an exemplary example for its high-quality submission on large-scale used car importation.
‘Another landmark moment was the signing of the Agreement on Access to Repair Information,’ explains Mr Deed.
‘Promoting consumer protection as well as an even playing field for Dealer repairers is a major AADA goal. The signing of the Agreement has provided a great outcome for consumers who must now be informed when non-genuine parts are being fitted to their vehicles.’
Moving forward, Mr Deed identifies the release of the Competition Policy findings, Taxation White Paper and Federation White Paper as just some of the policy areas AADA will focus on.
‘We set a high-standard in 2014, but we’re not resting on our laurels’ he said.
This is where Patrick Tessier comes in.
Technically, AADA’s Interim CEO, Tessier’s efforts this year have helped set a foundation on which AADA will continue to build a flourishing association.
‘At the start of 2014 we had a blank canvas’ said Mr Tessier. ‘The previous structure was completely inadequate for Dealers and there were no solid relationships with other associations.’
Fast forward 12 months later and the AADA enjoys solid relationships with several industry associations, both here and abroad.
‘I can’t remember a time when AADA ever sat down with the FCAI to speak about common issues and goals, but now the conversation is fluent. AADA has worked with FCAI on a number of matters already, and the strength
of our relationship was key in reaching a positive result with the recent access to repair information agreement.
What’s more, we have never had a better relationship with our international counterparts, including the Dealer associations in America, Brazil and China. The associations representing Dealers in these countries will attend this year’s AADA National Dealer Convention in Melbourne and programs like NADA University in Australia continue to solidify our international ties.
In just 12 months, AADA has gone from almost complete obscurity to a genuine global player’ Tessier said.
Like Mr Deed, Tessier agrees that 2015 will be another important year; and one where complacency will not be tolerated.
‘There’s still plenty of work to do. On top of our policy objectives, we will be focusing on introducing a new and effective funding mechanism, as well as facilitating the creation of the Australian Motor Dealer Council.’
Amongst all of the AADA’s plans and objectives, Mr Tessier points out the importance of one overriding idea.
‘We’re not about going to war, ruffling feathers, or litigation. In just 12 months AADA has achieved so much because our position is about communication. That is, an open dialogue between our members, the government and related associations. With this in mind, I know that we’ll continue to do great things for our members this year and beyond.’