It's been a little over a week since we received the letter from Chrysler, and for the last week I've focused not only on operations of our stores and strategizing our future, but also have diligently been on a local crusade with the media in all available forums to express my opinion.
My message has been simple: As an automotive dealer representing eight franchises today across seven locations, we're in the transportation business ... not the franchise business. Our goal has remained the same, to provide affordable, safe transportation that meets our customer's needs at a great price.
With or without a franchise, will my business fail? Absolutely not. Will it be a struggle for myself and many of us other dealers who are facing these troubling times? Most definitely.
However, I must admit that the biggest challenge lies with the manufacturer.
Imagine Chrysler, facing mounting losses from poor sales, electing to cut off many of the very customers (dealers) who purchase thousands upon thousands of your products, destroying the trust and confidence of your remaining customers (dealer)? How are you to recover from this?
Yesterday afternoon I received a call from my Chrysler rep. She ever so politely stated that Chrysler will be sending me additional documentation in an effort "to help me" through this transition. The "help" she referenced is for the remaining new units on my lot. Chrysler will assist, not guarantee, in relocating these units to other dealers for, in essence, triple net.
Here's the deal: Give back all floorplan credit and holdback (never mind that this has already been devoured by interest charges), then provide Chrysler with a small "handling fee" of $350 per unit that would include the inspection and transportation of the unit from our dealership. This is the "help" Chrysler is offering.
So let me see if I have this correctly: After cutting me off, you'll take back the inventory that I previously agreed to take from you -- that you are supposed to support me in selling -- if I pay YOU?
Where's the justice?
Again, I believe Chrysler has a bigger road ahead of them. If I were not a part of the dealer consolidation, how would I feel knowing this is how they're treating us today?
Is anyone safe within the "Chrysler family"?