Some auto dealers, who lost their new-car franchises because of industry retail cutbacks, are converting their facilities into car-care service centers.
Charlotte, NC-based Driven Brands, parent company to Meineke Car Care Centers and Maaco, is offering franchises to dealers affected by the dealership closings.
The first converted dealership, formerly the country's oldest Jeep dealership, reopened as a Meineke Car Care Center retail center in Pennsylvania. About 10 more are expected to open in the first half of 2010.
Jim Evans, a former top executive with two major auto dealership groups, is heading up program development.
“We started this program with only the concept that our 70-plus years of combined brand experience could assist disenfranchised dealers in a new business model,” says Dave Schaefers, senior vice president of business development for Driven Brands.
U.S. car dealers have seen their ranks thinned dramatically as a result of the recession and auto company reorganization plans. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC dealers are hardest hit.
“The program is designed to give disenfranchised dealers the opportunity to jump start their business by putting well-known brands into an already established business,” Schaefers said.
Because dealerships have service and operational systems already in place, there is no need to pay for systems development and training, Schaefers says. “Their staffs already have incredible amounts of training.”
Questions or comments about this column?
Send us an e-mail at [email protected].