Mike Connolly found opportunity in operating a rental fleet at his Nissan dealership — and then the opportunity grew even bigger.
In the past 18 months, the general manager at Zeigler Nissan of Orland Park, in Illinois, has built a retail rental fleet whose revenue is growing 20 to 25 percent annually.
"I view it as a separate profit center, in addition to new, used, finance, service and parts," Connolly said of the 80-vehicle side business. "A rental operation, if done right, can be that extra profit center in the dealership."
The rental fleet, which generates potential business for the dealership's new- and used- vehicle departments, had modest beginnings.
"I want to expose people to our product," Connolly said. "I thought, 'Why don't I try to get more people to take extended test drives, to go on that three-day holiday weekend in one of our vehicles to see what they are all about?' "
It began as a 25-vehicle fleet, limited to existing customers. Later, the fleet expanded to serve Zeigler Auto Group's Infiniti, BMW and Mini dealerships in the Chicago suburb.