A New Era of Communication for CADA

Written by: Matthew Groves, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Colorado Automobile Dealers Association

At the Colorado Auto Dealers Association (CADA), we are your voice at the Capitol. Our job is to determine your concerns, communicate them clearly to lawmakers and regulators, and report back on how legislation and regulations impact your business.  We have a responsibility to perform these tasks well – period.

Recognizing the Problem: Overcommunication and Declining Engagement

Our communications have metastasized over my five years at CADA: advertisements, solicitations, aggregations of industry news and political whisperings. We’ve cluttered your mailbox and consequently lost a lot of our credibility and also your trust.

When OTM stepped in to fill the void left by the departure of Kim Jackson, they pulled analytics on our communications department. They revealed CADA sent 100,000 emails in 2022.

Clearly, CADA is overcommunicating with members. The Association cried wolf several thousand too many times. Predictably, readership fell – by startling numbers. Not only did we lose your attention, but we diminished the value of what we sent to the sponsors who helped pay for it.

I’ve made it my first priority as CEO to change the way – and amount –  we communicate.  I want to rebuild trust and re-engage you in our conversation. Another discovery we made was that as your General Counsel, when I sent a separate email or hosted Zoom meetings for your staff members – outside of our communications program – those emails were opened at a rate almost 65 points higher than our standard publications.

Why this huge discrepancy?

The Three-Fold Commitment: Better Engagement and Transparency

I believe it could be my three-fold commitment to dealers:

  1. We start meetings on time and end on time. As someone who loves to write, I avoid unnecessary words, written or spoken. You’ve probably also noticed that I don’t sit still well.
  2. I never ask you to ‘take it from me.’  I always cite a primary source or provide a government official to update you. 
  3. I never ask you for money. My regulatory Zooms are always free to you – at your desk because the information is more important than profit.

CADA’s New Communication Strategy for 2023 and Beyond

While the change in my job duties may have to alter that commitment to a degree (I am now responsible for our P&L), I still believe in outlining the relationship from the outset.  So, here is what I am proposing for 2023 and beyond:

  • CADA is going to talk less and listen more. Our meetings will be discussions, not presentations.  We’ll ask where you want to go, not tell you where we’ve been. We will do our best to engage everyone – even those who’ve taken a break from us. And we will always explain the why behind our decisions.
  • CADA will not regurgitate the news. You’re already reading industry publications and major media sources. We want to tell you what’s happening with us, not what’s happening in the world. Hopefully, this focuses your feedback into actionable items for the Board.
  • CADA will meet you at your level of interest. Like an Axios newsletter, we present headlines, a brief take, and resources to dig deeper. You can take and use what’s of interest to you.

Embracing Change and Streamlining Communication

You may have already noticed the change. By digitizing the CADA Bulletin in January, we saved substantial printing and mailing expenses. My goal is to make your Open Road fit on an 8 ½” x 11 ½” sheet of paper. If you can’t read while drinking a cup of coffee, it’s not effective.

More change is on the horizon. This spring, we will roll out a new plan for how we conduct CADA’s regional meetings and legislative grassroots meetings. We will focus more on individualized engagement and more time in dealerships, with less frenetic travel around the state. For now, though, I’m just asking you to stay tuned. I think you’ll like what you see.

About Matthew Groves, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Colorado Automobile Dealers Association

Matthew Groves comes to Colorado from Washington, D.C., where he served in the United States House of Representatives. With a focus on military and tax policy, as well as national-level budgeting and appropriations, Matthew served as Counsel to three members of Congress over a six-year period, representing Colorado, California, and North Carolina.

Before serving Congress, Matthew began his career as a federal law enforcement officer at the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., where he served as a personal security officer to several sitting Justices of the Court and a representative to the Court on various interagency task forces supporting large scale District-wide events.

Matthew is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park; the Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina; the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia and the Air Command and Staff College distance program at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

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