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Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - Joe Davis turns Chrysler dealership around

Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - Joe Davis turns Chrysler dealership around

Inside Bulloch Business with Jan Moore - Joe Davis turns Chrysler dealership around

Jan Moore

   How about this for a massive understatement - it has been a rough couple of years for U.S. automobile manufacturers and automobile dealers.
      At this time last year, American auto manufacturers were announcing the "deletion" of many dealerships around the country. The U.S. government was in the midst of funding an unprecedented "bailout" of both General Motors and Chrysler, and industry sales for the "Big 3" had plummeted in comparison to recent years.
      With impending bankruptcy announcements of both Chrysler and General Motors on the horizon in February 2009, Joe Davis moved his Swainsboro Chrysler dealership into the empty Statesboro Chrysler dealership location on Highway 301 South, lock, stock, and barrel. The dealership is now named Georgia Chrysler Jeep Dodge.
       "Had we remained in Swainsboro, I am fairly certain we would have been deleted," Davis said. "Statesboro was an opportunity for us. This dealership had been shut down for four or five months when we moved into it."
      What Davis has been able to do in the last 14 or so months is impressive. He has grown from nine employees to 25, and is advertising to hire another six or so. His gross sales are tracking at the $13 million range for this year. Not bad considering the auto sales climate and the condition of the dealership when he took over the property.
      Davis said he had to tackle several "fronts" when he opened in Statesboro.
      "First, if you look at the ranking of the three domestics, we are number three," he said. "We have a wonderful product, but it doesn't sell itself as easily as the other two do. So we really have to show people what we have. Secondly, we don't have a large SUV, and there are a lot of people in this area that will only drive a large SUV."
      Davis said that gross sales at his dealership have tripled since moving from Swainsboro, and his service business has doubled. In addition, he has remodeled the customer service area and the restrooms.
      "When we opened, we had eight lifts in the service area, we now have 15," he said. "We have also added new computer and diagnostic equipment."
      To what does Davis attribute his relatively quick success? "Clearly, it is the people that work here," he said. "The reality is that you can buy a good car anywhere today. Everybody is competitive on price, so people and service are the difference. We want to hire great people, train them, and keep them working here. We want to give as much to them, as they give to us, if not more."
       The good news for Davis - Chrysler announced last week that it is projecting about a 20 percent increase in U.S. sales for April compared with the same month last year. Davis said that he would like to sell an average of 100 units per month at his dealership. That number seems a lot less far fetched today than it did just 14 months ago.

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