Buy-sell adviser Alan Haig, president of Haig Partners in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., added that some dealers believe the market is at the top of its cycle, with limited upside, making it a good time to cash out. He is seeing sellers with anywhere from one to 15 stores.
"Manufacturer requirements for facility upgrades continue to drive buy-sells, too," said Haig. "The increasing complexity of the business is also driving some people to sell: all the OEM incentive programs, thinner margins, human resource laws and the ongoing shift to the digital world — for some dealers, it's proven challenging."
For many of the big private and public auto-retail groups, now is the time to grow or go as they prepare for the changing future. That may include expanding into new geographical markets.
Take Asbury, which was generally quiet in the buy-sell arena over the last few years. Last year, it snapped up Hare Chevrolet and its collision center, Isuzu dealership and truck center in Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis. Indianapolis is a new market for Asbury, and it is aggressively expanding there.
This month, Asbury acquired Terry Lee Honda in Avon, Ind., and rebranded it with the Hare name. Terry Lee said he sold the Honda dealership to make space for more stores in the dealership group's portfolio. There are 72 acres of land on the north side of Indianapolis where Lee hopes to add five or six dealerships.