In his March 25 column, Keith Crain said ownership of dealerships by large chains causes a dramatic decline in sales volume and probably in customer satisfaction.
That is not really factual. I respect Automotive News for its quality reporting and presentation, but this time I think you may be off the mark.
Since acquiring UnitedAuto Group in 1999, we have increased same-store retail revenue by an average of 9.4 percent a year. In 2001, same-store new-unit volume grew 7.6 percent.
For virtually every brand we represent, many of our dealerships have won their manufacturers' most prestigious awards in the areas of sales volume, market share and customer satisfaction. Our manufacturer partners value our relationship, are committed to working with us to expand the business and, because of our demonstrated performance, are not holding us back.
Crain's column implies that the professional managers who operate publicly owned stores are somehow not as committed and do not have the same drive as the "entrepreneur."
The truth is, the members of our team at UnitedAuto Group could not deliver the impressive results they do if they were not impassioned professionals.
Every day, they behave like entrepreneurs, working to satisfy our customers, our manufacturer partners and shareholders. To imply otherwise does a disservice to their exceptional skill and motivation.
Customer satisfaction and retail volume growth are major priorities at UnitedAuto. The compensation plans of our managers demand performance to manufacturer requirements for sales growth and customer satisfaction.
There is certainly room in our business for the individual owner-operator as well as for the large chains such as UnitedAuto. Let's recognize that we all share the same goals: to sell as many cars and trucks as we can, one at a time, to completely satisfied customers.
To presume that one model (the old one) works and that one model (the new one) does not is to repeat the insular and blindfolded mistakes of the Detroit of old.