|Depending on whose list you use, there are a little over 22,000 franchise dealerships and another 30,000 to 40,000 full-time independent dealers. That would make up a small city of people that have the privilege to call themselves automobile dealers.|
Yes, I said privilege. To become a dealer is something that people often dream of for years. Whether it is pledging everything you own to open up an independent operation or taking an even bigger step by writing the big check that is required to acquire a franchise dealership, the opportunities are relatively small compared to other small business ventures. Once a dealer, the exhilaration enjoyed stays in your blood for a lifetime.
Dealers directly touch the lives of the 2,000,000+ people that work in their organizations and millions more of their family members. In addition, dealerships are called on by their communities each year to support everything from Little League teams to the performing arts and everything in between.
For much of the country, the holiday season is one that many dealers would prefer to just get through. In many cases, they hope to minimize their losses and avoid having to give back much of what they have worked so hard to earn in the first 11 months of the year. With this being the case, unfortunately for many, this special time of year doesn’t seem so special.
Even with the exhilaration of being a dealer, the business is certainly a tough one. There are not many guarantees. For many, especially domestics, 2007 has been a challenging year, and 2008 could appear to be the same. Some dealers could easily box themselves into a corner by thinking how tough life can treat them.
Let’s put that into perspective. Here in Sarasota, a group of business friends and I are working to provide Christmas dinner and some new clothes for what the organizations tell me are a record number of needy people. Don’t get me wrong, the wealth in Sarasota can be staggering, but there is still a significant number of people who can’t feed themselves. If this is the case in Sarasota, what must it be like in Detroit, Pittsburgh or Chicago?
There are a lot of people out there that dealers don’t touch directly or indirectly. Many people don’t play on the Little League teams or go to the philharmonic. For many people, the holiday season means nothing but pain and depression born out of not being able to provide for themselves and their families.
This is where I challenge dealers and their fine organizations. Make the time and effort to adopt a family (or families) during the holidays. In every community, there are churches and organizations desperately looking for benefactors that will help them provide for the needy families in your area. Whether it is providing a holiday dinner and gift presentation or just donating money to the organizations so they can make the arrangements, I urge you to step up to the plate and give.
I have given many gifts over the years, but none as special as helping a family have Christmas dinner and helping them provide gifts for their children – gifts that they would otherwise be unable to provide. I have seen the tears of happiness and felt their embraces, and I tell you, it truly is special. Additionally, if you are willing to look for them, many anonymous opportunities exist and are just as satisfying
The holiday season is a time of joy. It is a time of sharing. Please help those in your community to feel the holiday spirit. In return, you will also feel the holiday spirit at a time when many dealers would rather just turn the page on the calendar.
As this issue goes to press, we will have finished the fourth year of our print publication. It has been phenomenal ride! My heartfelt thanks to you, the readers, for your loyalty and support. Thanks too, to my tremendous staff in Indiana. Without either, this magazine could not exist.
Happy Holidays to all and a joyous and prosperous 2008!
Vehicle Administrative Services is now the exclusive roadside assistance provider for service contract administrator AUL Corp.