The news that Bill Heard Enterprises has closed shop is more surprising than it should be.
It’s no secret that dealer consolidation has been a much needed action, and that fuel prices have left a major dent in the sales of high-profit trucks and SUVs.
But the fact that the world’s largest seller of Chevrolet couldn’t even keep ONE of it’s 13 stores open is surreal. Something more must be going on.
That ‘something more’ is a massive lawsuit against Bill Heard Enterprises, accusing the dealer of signature forgery and deceptive marketing; charges that could bring up to $50 million in fines.
So the credit crunch is likely a cause of failure, not THE cause of failure.
The credit crunch and gas prices are the reasons Bill Heard Enterprises is citing though, and that’s enough for me to sound the alarm for massive changes ahead in the auto dealer industry.
What kind of changes could we see as dealers begin to jump ship?
Consolidation for one. Perhaps even to the extreme: Imagine shopping for Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota under one roof.
Imagine the current rows and rows of auto dealers lined up on main drags across America, relegated to just one or two city blocks.
Of course consolidation would not bode well for the automakers, who count on exclusivity and high volume sales from their dealers. They’d have to cut production dramatically and quickly adapt to a much leaner way of building and distributing their vehicles.
For you and me though, it means more power in how we buy our cars and eventually could lead to a shift away from the current high-pressure model of car sales.
I’d love to see going to the car dealer akin to going to grocery store… just pick out what I want, pay and leave.
I ask you: is that day coming? Would you want it to?