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Doing what needs to be done now, and looking to the future

Friday was the day that General Motors set as my voluntary termination date for my four GM franchises.

In late May, I received a certified letter of confirmation with detailed instructions on the buy-back of vehicles, parts and special tools. Since the bankruptcy filing, I had developed many reservations about the termination process of my GM franchises, especially since Iím a terminated Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealer and had just experienced Chryslerís disastrous wind-down. Nonetheless,

after a multitude of telephone calls of confirmation, we proceeded with our plans for franchise elimination.

In this preparation, we have considered the feasibility of continuing our GM dealershipís operations as a preowned store, similar to what we did with our CJD point. For our former CJD point, this has certainly enhanced our profitability. For our GM point in Lake City, S.C., I'm not sure it is feasible to continue, since that market currently has poor sales and the other two franchised stores in the area have already closed (one bankrupt in December and the other now a used-car store with minimal sales). Regardless, we must still first close the franchise and prepare for the best.

After many internal meetings to execute our own "wind-down" process, I was traveling south to Charleston, S.C., on Thursday afternoon when the somewhat expected telephone call came in. It was GM Detroit stating that we were part of a handful of dealers that resigned their points before the bankruptcy filing, and as much as GM wanted to honor its

commitments for our self terminations, that just wasn't possible with the recent June 1 filing.

I knew it was too good to be true! I had actually spoken to many other dealers, and we were all waiting to see if the promised buy-back process would occur. It didn't.

In spite of this, I must admit that I had a very pleasant conversation with the person from Detroit as he did offer us many options to assist in light of the recent 11th-hour occurrences. This, though, does not take away the fact that all final plans for new vehicle sales, warranty work, etc. came to a screeching halt that evening. Instead, phone calls had to begin quickly and emails followed on the "plan B" that I had already defined for just such a case.

So how did we do Friday? In light of it all, just fine. We sold some new units, along with used, and continued offering factory-backed service. Are we doing enough to maintain operations? I don't feel as we are. After all, we had already performed our own "wind-down." But what can you do against a company that is bankrupt?

With this development, our plans have been modified for the short term as we do plan still to eliminate the franchises. The good news is that even though GM

created a bit of a "fiasco" with our termination, the company was quick to offer us some additional support in our new, modified "wind-down" process that,

should it all pan out, would benefit us and definitely make it worth the inconvenience caused.

In all, so far I must confess that the largest positive impression has been the support offered thus far to us. Not to harp on the Chrysler saga, as none of us ever care to hear any more about it, but GM did offer the support. It is obvious to me that GM still wants to maintain a positive relationship with all of its dealers -- both current and ones that will be leaving. For this I am grateful, as in a few years maybe things will change for the new car industry and, in a different market, a GM point with an opportunity may present itself to me again.

Who knows?

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