Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills Monday introduced the Dealer Market Investment Program, which seeks to match potential dealers with specific markets where they can succeed, as well as strengthen and enhance FCA’s U.S. dealership network.
The program would assist and provide financial support to individuals who want to operate a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram or Alfa Romeo-Maserati dealership but have limited funds.
“This program places the support of FCA behind high-potential dealer candidates and tells them we have their backs as they enter the retail vehicle sales business,” says Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales.
Candidates must apply and demonstrate leadership skills, financial acumen, and customer satisfaction, as well has have a proven track record of exceptional sales performance. They must also participate in FCA’s dealer assessment and development program and invest their substantial amounts of their own start-up capital.
FCA will provide 85 percent of the funds needed to cover the dealership’s working capital with low-interest loans through relationships with Chrysler Capital and Detroit’s Ally Financial, while the potential dealer covers the remaining 15 percent. For the real-estate investment, Chrysler Capital and Ally Financial will provide 80 percent of the funding, FCA will provide 15 percent, and the potential dealer will cover the remaining 5 percent.
“High-potential candidates, who’s mere constraint may be a lack of capital, are given support for their startup costs while using their funding to jump-start operations at the dealership,” says Al Gardner, FCA’s head of network development. “We expect a variety of individuals to use this approach to quicken their impact in the market where they are establishing their dealership.”
FCA recently piloted the program at Northland Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Oak Park.
“This is an area of the market that has tremendous growth potential,” says Bashar Cholagh, senior manager of market representation, dealer network diversity, and technologies. “We worked closely with Eddie Hall III and his partner Ken Thomas (in Oak Park) to provide them this opportunity through the program. In less than one month, they had the keys to the dealership doors and are now selling our vehicles.”
Hall and Thomas started making improvements to the dealership immediately.
“We have already picked out new furniture and have a painter set to come out within the next 30 days,” says Hall. “We also now have some reserve capital, so we can do a full-scale remodel.”
Northland is now the only African American-owned Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealership in metro Detroit.
“My dad, Eddie Jr., was born and raised in Detroit,” says Hall. “I was raised in metro Detroit, and Ken was born and raised in Detroit, so owning this store at this time when Detroit is making a comeback is very important to us. This is really a full-circle moment for us.”
Thomas began his automotive industry career working as a technician at Northland more than 33 years ago.
“This program is exactly what I had been looking for,” says Thomas. “I believe that this program will set the standard for what a dealer development program should look like in the future.”