Bankruptcy isn’t the end for local dealerships

Published 10:08 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

Amid all the talk of corporate failings, the financial crisis is really starting to hit home.

Recent announcements of bankruptcies and restructuring plans have left many dealership owners, employees and community supporters wondering what fate has in store for them.

It’s troubling that a solution to fixing the problem hasn’t been found. And until the economy comes back, the reality of rebounding for many of the dealerships is slim at best. Some say it is time for a dramatic change in buying patterns, while others argue that throwing money at the problem is the solution. The survival of the corporate giants may take a dramatic change in buying behaviors, but that isn’t the case for the local hometown, community dealerships.


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Local, hometown car dealerships have a much better chance of coming out of this crisis than the bigger dealerships in bigger cities. Local dealerships have built their client lists by making friends, not by making a bunch of phone calls. In the case of Duke Automotive, the Duke family has built a relationship with Suffolk for decades. Those friends, those customers will want to deal with the Duke family because of their reputation for fine customer service.

So while GM and the other auto juggernauts explore strategies for increasing sales, local dealerships are preaching a vital message of existing as long as the community supports them.

Whether or not a dealership is allowed to keep GM, Chrysler or Ford on their signage isn’t an indicator of their success or failure. Instead, those who continue without the support of a franchise will find that there will always be cars to sell and people will want to buy them. Being successful in business doesn’t hinge on the top executive’s compensation plan. Success is a result of a community’s willingness to support that business. In our case, it’s up to Suffolk’s willingness to support the local businesses.