To the Editor:
I agree with Keith Crain on "Right-sizing the dealer body" (Feb. 6). He brings up critical points that must be understood by both dealers and their factories. As brands lose market share, their distribution chains must reflect that. That requires the factories to be upfront with their dealers on future product and volume.
It also means that dealers must be realistic about what their franchises are worth when consolidating. That is determined by today's market, not by what they need to retire or what they were offered three years ago.
For the domestics in particular, Crain's point regarding the customer satisfaction index and profitability is imperative. Dealers are left to solve ownership issues that factories don't. Policy decisions vary greatly by manufacturer. The brands in the most trouble right now are the ones most dependent on the dealer to bridge gaps.
Factories offer a wide range of resources to help dealers expand their businesses. In tough times they must be just as active in shrinking them to the right size. No factory representative has ever come in after a tough month and said, "What can I do to help you cut expenses?"
We dealers have had several years of prosperity. For some of us, a correction is ahead. We need our factory partners more than ever to help us through it.