Car dealers loss could be customers' gain

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Two weeks ago nearly 800 Chrysler dealers were notified their contracts with the company had been cancelled.

Since then, some have closed, others are doing whatever they can to get rid of their inventory.

This means bargains for consumers, but still at a time of uncertainty for auto dealers.

A chuckle here and there with old customers and friends is how Bill Anderson says he's managing these days.

"Well, you gotta enjoy life, life's here today, gone tomorrow, we were gonna enjoy it while we can," says Anderson, owner of Anderson Motor Company in Lanett, Alabama.

A good philosophy to live by, given a hard lesson learned.

Anderson Motor Company was one of nearly 800 dealers that lost its franchise agreement with Chrysler two weeks ago.

Since then, Anderson says, "Traffic's been very slow here since they went Chapter 11, it's hard to convince the person to buy a car because they don't know if the manufacturer is gonna be around."

Anderson only sold Jeeps, so he admits, it was a blow, but has a plan to keep the doors open.

"We have a good strong service department, so we'll probably continue to do service," says Anderson.  He also says they'll sell used cars.

In the meantime, Anderson says his loss is the customers' gain.

"Right now, we would sell it for invoice, just to get it off the floor plan!"

The same is true in Opelika at Glynn Smith Chevrolet.

"Well, I can tell you I mean, some of the discounts are up to almost $9,000," says General Sales Manager Johnny Jones.

The dealership also lost the Jeep line, but managed to keep Chevrolet when GM slashed its dealer base.

Despite the company's uncertain future, Jones says they're optimistic.

"We actually got a phone call from our district sales manager out of Atlanta and he said that we were safe and that we'd done Chevrolet a good job in this area and we will remain in business."

For those still standing, Jones says its back to basics.

"Taking care of your customers, having a good customer satisfaction index and providing people a fair price."