Less than a week, and many questions remain

With less than a week until Chrysler wants to pull our franchises, I've spoken to many other Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealers as we await our fate. We're still waiting for multiple concerns to be addressed on how Chrysler, if approved by the bankruptcy court, will handle the estimated 40,000 vehicles represented in the market by newly terminated dealers.

Though they have graciously offered to help relocate this inventory--for a fee--what about the dealers who simply said no? How is Chrysler addressing today the many dealers who have already closed their doors in frustration and anger and who have already begun the liquidation process? What does this do for the market value for ongoing dealers? Nonetheless, the road before us all shall be interesting.

In light of all that we have before us, what continues to aggravate us all is how financial institutions along with other business- and service-related industries have branded us "the terminated dealers." The judge has yet to even hear the formal argument and most certainly has not made his ruling, which means that we are all still active, in-good-standing Chrysler dealers.

However, in many others' eyes, we are all but gone. Many dealers that I have spoken to have already been cut off by banks, as they are no longer "franchised dealers" in the banks' opinions.

I myself had that challenge the other day dealing with a vendor for Chrysler that supports some of our computer equipment used in service. We had a problem with a component that required it to be sent in for repair. Historically, the vendor would always send a loaner for us to use until the repair was complete. This week, when scheduling the repair, the vendor said it could not send us a loaner, as we were no longer a Chrysler dealership.

Have the businesses associated with Chrysler possibly jumped the gun a little? What about the 40 percent of the "terminated dealers" who have franchise points from other automakers? Doesn't anyone take that into consideration? Is this a good business practice?

Nonetheless, we can all thank Chrysler for this added stress in an already stressful market. If anything, Chrysler should take lessons from GM.

GM has given us time: Time to close operations, time to allow employees to look for new jobs, time for some of us to retire or develop new business plans.

Although GM too is on track for a larger dealer body consolidation, at least it is affording us the opportunity to reduce our inventory over time and has even opted to repurchase the vehicles with a payout from the added taxpayer dollars that GM is receiving.

So that leads to the final question: "Where did Chrysler spend its billions?"

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