The new chairman of the Chrysler National Dealer Council says he wants to spend the year increasing the profitability and value of Chrysler Group franchises and says the factory wants to help.
David Kelleher, owner of David Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in suburban Philadelphia, became chairman of the dealer council Jan. 1. He says that he and the rest of the council came away from a recent meeting in Detroit inspired that, for the first time in a long while, they have a full partner in Chrysler Group's leadership team.
"They're saying some of the same things that their predecessors did, but they're actually following through with it," Kelleher said of Fiat S.p.A., comparing it favorably with former Chrysler owners Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management.
"Those two administrations were very difficult to the dealer body and the trust level, and these guys are repairing that relationship."
Kelleher said the franchise value of Chrysler Group dealerships increased in 2010 and 2011, in part because of the automaker's stronger product lineup. In 2011, Chrysler Group's U.S. sales rose 26 percent and its market share rose 1.3 percentage points.
Kelleher says the key to more franchise value increases lies with the automaker's relationship with its dealers.
"I think we have very productive conversations about the value of the franchises," he said. "I'd like to move [the values] another four or five percentage points. Valuable franchises attract better dealers, and that works for both of us."
Kelleher aid he is committed to negotiating a new Dealer Standards program with Chrysler Group that is fair to dealers and improves customer experiences. Chrysler temporarily suspended its Dealer Standards program -- which provides dealers with incentives to improve their facilities and customer satisfaction -- beginning Jan. 1.