J.D. Power is a modern-day Winston Churchill. Churchill was a visionary who early-on warned the world of the impending danger of the Third Reich and then the ascendance of the Iron Curtain.
David Power is a proven visionary who is warning our industry of the changing attitudes of consumers looking to purchase new vehicles. The reaction from most of the industry is to discredit him and blast him as out of touch with the industry and as anti-dealer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In 1990, David convinced me that I should build one of the first auto malls on the East Coast to house my 11 franchises, which were scattered in various locations.
On a 60-acre site, I built five connected 5,000-square-foot showrooms, a 70,000-square-foot service facility, a 40,000-square-foot body shop and a 15,000-square-foot used-vehicle facility. The main showroom housed Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Honda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Chrysler, GMC, Volvo, Acura and, eventually, Lexus.
The public liked the one-stop shopping, and our Consumer Satisfaction Index was above average. Ertley Motor World became a destination just as we have seen Wal-Mart, OfficeMax and Home Depot become today.
As early as 1990, David told me that Ertley Motor World could be even more consumer friendly if we would display our inventory by models. He suggested that all sedans, SUVs, trucks, convertibles, etc., be grouped together as many dealers now do on their used-vehicle lots.
That marketing philosophy makes sense to me. It does not seem anti-dealer to improve the buying experience for the consumer. Of course, the manufacturers are not ready for that approach; but in the future, some will have the courage to compete on that basis.
Time proved Winston Churchill correct, and time will also prove David Power correct. Those of us in this great industry who are able to embrace the coming changes will be the future winners.