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Automotive dealerships aren’t going anywhere

Anyone considering a career in the retail auto industry might hear the rumours of the demise of dealerships and be tempted to shy away from it. That would be a big mistake.

As the auto industry evolves, so does the need for a skilled workforce in all areas of a dealership’s operations: sales, service, collision repairs, parts, accounting, marketing, I.T., human resources, and management.

Many students have wisely chosen not to heed the warnings about the demise of dealerships and to pursue a career in the auto industry.

Enrolment levels at the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College in Barrie have remained consistently high in recent years. So has enrolment for automotive-based courses at Conestoga College, Centennial College, Durham College and other post-secondary schools throughout Ontario.

Advances in technology are impressive and often steal the media spotlight. Think of all the media attention that Uber, autonomous and electric vehicles have received of late.

Although EVs still only represent a small portion of the new car market in Canada, the pendulum is swinging toward a more robust future for these vehicles. In 2016, EV sales climbed 56 per cent in Canada, and sales of electric and plug-in hybrids will continue to rise, as battery and charging technology improves, and as the number of charging stations expands.

Ride-sharing companies (Uber, Lyft) have influenced the auto industry, too, but ride-sharing vehicles are still purchased, repaired and maintained at dealerships.

Yes, the automotive industry is in the midst of massive changes, but dealerships will adapt as they always have. They will do so by continuing to deliver great customer experiences to ensure their future viability.

As consumers continue to embrace these new technologies and transportation systems, dealerships will continue to serve as the ‘go to’ destination for specialized sales, service, parts, maintenance, and warranty repairs.

As automotive customer surveys and car shopping behaviours indicate, consumers are more than happy with the quality of products and services they receive at their local dealership.

This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to or go to Larry Lantz is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, Ont.

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