Running a new-vehicle dealership has never been a vocation for the faint of heart. And despite today's robust economy, dealers still must grapple with a long list of problems.
In this special section of Automotive News, successful dealers tell how they met and solved four of those puzzles. Leading off is Exit Strategies, followed by Dealership Brands (Page 60), Internet Sales (Page 74) and Retaining Salespeople (Page 86).
Deciding to sell a dealership is gut-wrenching. Usually, the owner has devoted most or all of his working life to nurturing and expanding the business. It's hard to let go.
Richard Fleischman bought Denver's venerable Luby Chevrolet from his father-in-law in 1992, and he came to have serious doubts about the future of stand-alone dealerships.
David Rosenberg found a hookup that he felt was best for his employees and his nine-outlet Ira Motor Group in Massachusetts.
Both sold to Group 1 Automotive Inc. of Houston and are employed by their new parent. Fleischman is still president of Luby, and Rosenberg still holds that post with the Ira group.
Tom Price was CEO of 29-store FirstAmerica Automotive, but he liked the idea of linking up with fast-growing Sonic Automotive. He's now vice chairman of Sonic.
Andy Lewis found that you can take the boy out of the dealership, but you can't take the dealership out of the boy. He sold his big store and bought a smaller one.
Norm Hayes hoped his son would take over his Salt Lake City dealership. That didn't work out, but Hayes is more than happy with the way new owner John Mecham is running things.
Bob Hoy had an easier time. He wanted out and, fortunately, his partner and his son were ready to take over.
Jerry Richardson retired, sort of. He sold his Oklahoma City Ford dealership and gave up his post at Fred Jones Automotive Group, although he remains part owner of the latter. New duties for the 'retired' dealer include a used-car outlet, a Nissan forklift dealership and, perhaps, a bit of land development.