FADA President Ted Smith discusses challenges and advocacy efforts for 2024-2025

As you know, dealer state associations tirelessly advocate for their members. In response to recent challenges to franchise laws, the Florida Automobile Dealers Association is ramping up its efforts. Joining the latest episode of Inside Automotive is Ted Smith, President of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association to discuss their plans.

Key Takeaways 

1. Ted Smith highlights the increasing pressure from OEMs challenging state franchise laws. He underscores that some OEMs, through their programs and policies, allegedly violate these laws, which is a significant concern for dealers. Smith cites issues such as Ford’s EV program and allocation models as examples of potential violations.

2. The interview emphasizes the crucial role of state associations like the Florida Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) in advocating for dealers. Smith argues that these associations are essential in defending the franchise system and ensuring that laws protecting dealers and consumers are enforced. He calls for more statutory support to empower associations to take legal action against OEMs when necessary.

3. Smith points out the substantial economic contributions of car dealers to the state, including employment and tax revenue. He argues that maintaining a fair and competitive franchise system is not only about protecting dealers but also about safeguarding significant economic interests and ensuring consumer protection.

4. The interview reveals a reluctance among dealers to confront OEMs directly due to fear of retaliation or damaging their business relationships. Smith stresses the need for a collective effort through the association to address these challenges, as individual dealers are often hesitant to take on powerful manufacturers alone.

5. NeverthelessSmith calls on dealers to become more active in legislative advocacy. He encourages them to engage with their local legislators to support laws that would allow trade associations to take action against OEMs’ illegal practices. He emphasizes that dealer involvement is critical to securing statutory changes that can provide a regulatory check on OEMs.

“The franchise system is there, again, to ultimately protect the consumer. So when an OEM violates a franchise law in Florida, who do we look to to bring corrective action? Who’s going to bring the challenge to the OEM’s potential violation of law? I think it has to be the trade association.” – Ted Smith