Kudos to the Virginia Automotive Dealers Assn. (there may be others) whose board of directors recently voted unanimously to fight for dealers eliminated by Chrysler and General Motors.
And if your state association voted to stay in the fight, kudos to you also.
On the other hand, there are some state associations that voted to stay on the sidelines and not support their brethren. (I won't name names, but you know who you are.)
Many of you are happy — and rightfully so — to see nearly 2,000 competitors out of the marketplace. That's only going to improve your business.
But the truth is, now is a critical time for the automotive retail industry. I believe the recent cuts reflect a desire by the manufacturers — not to save money — but to exert greater control over their dealers.
Today it was your competitor down the street. Tomorrow, it might be you getting the ax. If GM and Chrysler are allowed to get away with their recent actions, the door swings wide open for all sorts of future trouble on the state level for dealers. Dealers that survive can expect plenty of insidious and onerous actions in the future. The manufacturers proved they can get rid of you if you cause trouble.
There are some in the industry who believe the dealer restoration bill recently passed in the House of Representatives is the “line in the sand” battle for the future of car dealers. A vote in the Senate, if it happens, won't occur until after Labor Day. (Don't hold your breath. Majority Leader Sen. Reid is telling people he's not keen on bringing the bill to the floor.)
Understandably, dealers that had their franchises stolen from them want them back. That's not realistic, at least, on a large scale. That car has left the showroom. But there are things NADA can do to restore some sanity.
NADA needs to negotiate an “acceptable” settlement with Congress. They should not negotiate with GM and Chrysler. Let Congress fight the battle with the OEMs.
NADA should fight for implementation of a transparent appeals process for dealers eliminated. That might restore a few hundred at best. For the others, NADA needs to demand proper financial remuneration. If NADA succeeds, surviving dealers win.
On a happier note, it seems every August or September, I'm writing about journalism awards racked up by colleague Steve Finlay, and this year is no different. As he did in 2008, Steve won a national gold award this year in the American Society of Business Publication Editors annual editorial excellence contest.
He won the gold for two columns he wrote in 2008 about automotive financing and leasing. Steve didn't stop with the gold, however. He also won the bronze national award for two other columns. Just like last year, four of Steve's 12 columns won awards.
Other Ward's editors — Barbara McClellan, editor of WardsAuto.com and Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of Ward's AutoWorld won regional awards in the ASPBE contest.
Yours truly was shut out again — apparently I have some improving to do. And, no, I'm not jealous — Right.