Saturday, May 23, 2009

Somebody help me figure this out.......

Dodge ChargerCommentary…..

I know that I am not capable of running the U.S. Government or even a large corporation. I don’t even run my own business as well as many of my peers (ask any of them - they'll tell you!). I know there is a lot I don’t know or understand, but permit me, if you will, to share a few comments on the decision by Chrysler Corporation to close hundreds of their dealerships across the nation.


The media tells me that the closing of these dealerships will help them cut cost.  Could anyone explain to me just exactly how that will work?  I work with a number of police departments across the State of Alabama.  The subject of the dealer closings recently came up during a visit with the operations commander for a municipal police department. This department was partially complete in switching their entire fleet to Dodge Chargers.  Over the past few years, this department, like many others across the nation, had been converting from Ford Crown Victoria’s to the Charger police specials.  You’ll never guess why!


Was it because Charger was better?  Less expensive? Actually, it was mainly because of LOCAL SERVICE!  The nearest Ford dealer was many miles away.  I leave the comments regarding Chevrolet to others. As it turns out, there was a local Dodge dealer in the community – not just any dealer, but a Five-Star dealer – the best of the best! So what happens now that the dealership is closing?


Well, there is another Dodge dealer sixty miles to the north and another around seventy miles to the south.  Want to venture a guess as what this department loses in terms of manpower, available equipment, operating expense and lack of productivity as a result of this decision by Chrysler to “save money”? 


I never was the brightest kid in school, or for that matter, in business; but somehow, I just don’t get it.  What does the dealer “cost” Chrysler?  All they do is buy cars from Chrysler, sell them in their local community and take care of Chrysler’s customers.  They employ people who buy Chrysler products.  They attend local churches and civic organization that buy Chrysler products.  They pay taxes to the community in which they live that buy Chrysler products.  They are among the biggest media advertisers, charitable contributors, and employers in the community. 


It is probably worth noting than that if there is no dealer in the area, sales for Chrysler products will suffer.  Most of us won’t travel more than 10 miles to purchase a vehicle from a servicing dealer.  So what do all those potential buyers do?  They buy another brand of vehicle!  Can anyone explain to me how that “helps” Chrysler?


So the dealer no longer employs people, pays no taxes, spends no money in the community, sells no cars, provides no service, and that makes things better?  The ripple effect is that Chrysler sells fewer vehicles, makes less money, employs fewer people, and pays less taxes, payroll, and benefits.  The union employees at Chrysler will not have to make any concessions, but somehow I think there will be fewer of them around to enjoy their tough bargaining for high wages and benefits that include Viagra prescriptions.


And yet, I am told that my elected representatives are putting billions of our tax dollars into a company that will ultimately fail.  The only way a business can survive, at least in a capitalistic society, is to compete.  You can’t compete with a limited distribution system or cutting out the very people that are essential to serving the needs of your customers.  Instead of a few mega dealers, how about MORE community dealers?  Just a thought….


Maybe I’m wrong.  Anyone want to tell me what it is that I don’t understand?  I really would like to know!


Burch Falkner

Small businessman,

a resident of Birmingham, AL

who apparently is getting dumber by the day....