Forty dealers discuss four topics of compelling interest to the retail trade in this special section of Automotive News. The dealers are veterans of the retail wars. They're based in small towns and big cities. They've tested their ideas, and their ideas work.
Leading off the section, 10 dealers who have sold their businesses to large chains - generally publicly held - set forth the whys and wherefores of those decisions. Next is a discussion of exit strategies for dealers (Page 56).
Ten dealers who have met the Internet head-on look at the ins and outs of that newest system of selling (Page 72); and, finally, staffing the store, the never-ending battle against employee turnover, is addressed by 10 dealers who have overcome that problem (Page 88).
Auto dealers are mighty good businesspeople. They have to be good to survive in that ferociously competitive field.
So when a successful dealer sells to a large dealership chain, there's usually a pretty solid reason.
Richard Dyer of Chamblee, Ga., wanted to continue to run his Volvo store, but he wanted the capital to expand in the fast-growing Atlanta area.
David McDavid of Texas said, 'I was seeing the industry change almost daily. I did not want to be the guy with the corner appliance store when Wal-Mart came to town.' McDavid's 'corner appliance stores' sell more than 30,000 new and used vehicles a year.
Tom Hessert Jr. noted that 'my family's savings were on the line every time I wanted to buy another dealership.' He sold 11 of his 14 New Jersey stores.
Steve Landers of Benton, Ark., wanted to take over the family dealerships when his father, Bob, retired, but Steve didn't want to assume the debt. He sold them and now is an executive with the buyer firm.
'I have three sons in the business, and I wanted them to be secure,' said John Lance, who sold his fourth-generation Ford dealership in Westlake, Ohio. 'And I knew we had to protect our people.'