Harold Zeigler, chairman of the Harold Zeigler Auto Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., says combining the three brands boosted sales at his store in Plainwell, Mich.
"We bought a store that was a Chrysler-Dodge that was doing probably 50 to 60 units a month new and used," says Zeigler, who attended last year's meeting. "We moved Jeep into the location. Now we are doing 120 to 150 new and used a month. We did that pretty much overnight."
Zeigler's group acquired the Plainwell dealership after the December meeting.
That success convinced Zeigler to do it again at a second location. This time, he is building a dealership in Grandville, Mich. Zeigler did not disclose spending.
Zeigler's group has 21 franchises in nine locations. The franchises include Lincoln, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and BMW.
Adding a Chrysler group store is not a priority for Dennis Boyle, president of AutoFocus Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif.
"I am in northern California, which is very heavily dominated by the import brands," Boyle says. "You can't fight the market."
Boyle is invited to Chrysler's October meeting but says he will not attend.
AutoFocus operates six stores in California selling Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Hyundai vehicles. The dealership group also owns Frontier Honda in Longmont, Colo.
The chain has owned a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep store in Tracy, Calif., since 1998. Tracy is a growing community and a strong truck market, Boyle says.
"Tracy has done fine," Boyle says. "Trucks are our bread and butter -- any of the Ram pickup line, the Dakota, the Durango, minivans."
Dealer Herb Chambers has acquired two Jeep franchises since attending the December meeting. He is considering two more Chrysler group franchises, he says, declining to specify the make.
Herb Chambers Cos. of Somerville, Mass., ranks No. 14 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 37,985 new vehicles in 2004. Chambers' franchises include Ford, Saturn, Cadillac, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Infiniti and Porsche.
Dealer consultant Sandler says he is telling clients that buying a Chrysler group franchise is a smart move under the right conditions: "It is very smart, particularly if you don't own any domestics and you are heavy with the good import brands."
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