The Gile family, who own two successful dealerships in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, took a hard look at the future this year. Their conclusion: Having just two stores in a consolidating market and amid a number of changing variables isn't the best choice for them to thrive.
So dealer principal Chuck Gile, 69, and his sons and managing partners Trevor Gile, 40, and Matt Gile, 42, are selling their Honda and Toyota stores. But the Giles aren't leaving the dealership world behind. In fact, through a new consulting business, they aim to help dealers with their ever-changing and profit-challenged businesses.
The family has operated Motorcars Honda since 1989 and Motorcars Toyota since 1999. Chuck Gile started in auto retail in 1975; Matt got into the business in 2000; and Trevor joined a year later. The sale of the Honda dealership is slated to close this month. The Giles are talking to other dealers about buying the Toyota store after an earlier deal to sell it fell through, Matt Gile said.
In "the dealership role and general manager, you're putting out fires all day long and you don't get to grow your business," said Matt Gile, who co-owns Motorcars Toyota. The family's new business can "focus 100 percent on growth mode and grow something new that we know can help dealers."
Welcome to Motorcars Consulting, which the Giles launched in early 2019 and pitched to dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association conference in San Francisco. It's the parent company of two businesses launched by the Giles — Rainforest Car Wash Consulting and Rental Recorder, a loaner fleet management tool.
Chuck Gile told Automotive News he had planned to operate the dealerships five more years or so and then sell. But an interested buyer popped up. The Giles' ages and the emerging success of their consulting business in combination with the changing new-vehicle sales environment and its profit erosion persuaded him to exit traditional auto retailing and look to the future with a company his grandchildren could one day work for.
"The Internet is killing the business," Chuck Gile said.
While car buyers typically used to shop at three dealerships to buy a vehicle, many now go online and get quotes from five stores. That has made it tougher to make the same profit, he said, and today's buying experience has taken away from the one-on-one relationships with customers that he enjoyed.
"It wasn't as much fun as it was, at least for me," Chuck Gile said.