Dealers ask the same questions the world over

Sixty auto retailers and managers from Moscow recently signed up to attend this month’s National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco.

If you’re looking for a sign of the times in the auto business, this is it.

Retailers from Russia and around the world want to come see how U.S. dealers are running such tight ships, says Steve Chernysh, a retail consultant who has been guiding dealers in Russia, the Baltic and elsewhere for more than 15 years.

“Customers are basically the same the world over,” Chernysh says. “And the competitive nature of the U.S. industry makes it the apex of business systems.”

Chernysh, an American with offices in Russia, Latvia and Switzerland, is working with dealer groups who are hungry for more information about finance and insurance practices, used-car operations and especially that elusive science called CRM -- customer relationship management.

“I’ve been bringing many dealers over to see how we do things over here,” he says. And what are they learning? “Many things,” he says, “too many to list!”

Consider all that as a compliment.

It may feel like a rough patch that the U.S. auto retail business is going through right now. But the blazing energy with which American dealers have mobilized, throwing themselves into protecting profits and finding new business opportunities, is something dealers around the world want to study.

Overseas markets are also going through big changes, and dealers there are looking for answers. And by and large -- challenges aside -- U.S. dealers have answers to share.

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