Old Car Dealers
By Mark Weisseg
We all know the current new car dealers are nothing like the Old Car Dealers from the days gone by. Of course everything changes and you would expect that, but you know what stuck out in this picture for me? The little toy DeSoto car. My goodness gracious Mom used to say. That little car would be worth lots of moola today.
I am unclear if the service is any better or worse today versus back then, but everything else has. It was forbidden at one time for one owner to have more than one brand under the roof. Now, it’s the only way. Mega dealers that sell Ford, Chevrolet, Kia, Honda and more are the norm. They advertise constantly and the automotive business still has the corniest commercials on TV. I don’t understand how a dealer with a multi million dollar chain would want to go on TV and make an ass out of himself.
Of course the old dealerships that are long gone also are still money makers. People want to find and buy old signs and anything related to a long ago business. I recall going to my one and only Ford dealer while in my teens. Everyone knew the parts and service manager because they were lifers. Now, if one stays six months he ought to get a gold watch.
Now, they have service teams that are color coded in many shops. It’s hard to figure out who to talk to. Last night I met a new friend at the car show. He told me the following story. He took his Ford Escape into the dealer for a very hard shifting issue. After the vehicle was there for a week HE called THEM and was told a transmission was on order. Once the trans came in they would have it done in a day or so. A few days later they called him and said the trans was in but the shifting problem did not go away. They were stumped. He said he suggested they reach out to a tech line or something as the vehicle has been gone two weeks now.
Well, a few days later they called again and said the mighty Escape was completed. What was the issue? A solenoid. A cheap and easy part to find and replace. My new found friend had a $900 rental car tab and was told to come and pick up your Escape and thank you. Is that the state of the Union in our shops today? I am afraid so in most cases. The cars are so complicated and the technicians are so hard to locate. Most feel you can plug into the dash, get a code and replace the item. Not true and not true at all. I am not sure where all this is going but it makes me appreciate my old classics.
The problem on that side of the old business is we lack younger folks that understand points, condensers, carbs, timing marks, and so on. So, we are in a pickle on both sides. The difference is most of us that own the classics usually can do some work ourselves. The newer cars seem miles above our mentality and that is frightening. I dread not knowing what’s going on and the trust factor for me is nearly zero regarding today’s dealerships. The fact is it appears like nobody stays put anymore. It’s hard enough to recruit the right people but retaining them is even harder. Stay tuned and share your stories if you wish and let’s hope for better days for the automotive dealerships.
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