Dealer Groups

Sheehy raises $285K for American Heart Association

FAIRFAX, Va. - 

Sheehy Auto Stores recently announced that it raised a record donation of $285,000 to give the American Heart Association this summer.

The company made the donation as part of its annual Sheehy 8000 campaign, a community-wide effort from May 12 to July 5, where Sheehy dealerships sold a combined total of over 8,000 new and used vehicles in efforts to raise the annual donation.

In addition to raising funds and awareness for the American Heart Association, the 54-day campaign also included community events such as heart-healthy cooking, food and CPR demonstrations.

"This year was a milestone for us and we are grateful for the support from our customers, communities and team members that have made this campaign such a success," Sheehy Auto Store president Vince Sheehy said in a news release.  "We are proud to support such a great organization that does so much to educate and help prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke."

For several years, Sheehy has also been a sponsor and active partner at the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day event held on the first Wednesday in April at Springfield Town Center. 

Additionally, this year, each of Sheehy's dealerships hosted individual step challenges between employees on the day of the event, according to the company.

"We are so grateful to the Sheehy Auto Stores family, their partners and customers for another record-breaking year,"  Michelle Nostheide, vice president of the American Heart Association, said in the release.

"The funds and awareness raised during the Sheehy 8000 will go a long way in furthering our life-saving mission in our communities," she said.

Last year's annual campaign, the Sheehy 7000, raised $225,000 for the charity. According to Sheehy, it has collected a total of over $40 million on behalf of both community and non-profit organizations since its inception.

Cox presents Rising Star Award to 1st woman

ATLANTA - 

In partnership with the National Association of Minority Automotive Dealers, Cox Automotive awarded its Rising Star Award to a Kentucky general manager, in honor of her leadership and commitment to both the automotive industry and her community.

Chosen for the award is Wadette Bradford of Martin Kia, in recognition of her work expanding the brand recognition and profit margins of both new and well-established dealerships.

Cox Automotive senior vice president of talent, diversity and culture Nicole Ashe presented Bradford with her award at the NAMAD annual meeting awards dinner in Miami on Thursday.

In her role as general manager, Bradford has increased inventory turns, developed innovative digital marketing campaigns and increased service gross profit, according to Cox Automotive.

“On behalf of Cox Automotive and in partnership with NAMAD, I am honored to recognize Wadette for her phenomenal achievements in automotive,” Ashe said in a news release. “Wadette is aspiring to be a franchise dealership owner-operator, and with her enthusiasm and passion for the automotive industry, I am confident that she will achieve that goal.”

Prior to Martin Kia, one of Bradford’s significant career achievements was building an enterprising partnership with business leaders around Lexus of Huntsville, an Alabama dealership where she began her career.

Under the leadership of her first mentor, Ellenae Fairhurst, Bradford established a client relationship to secure a multimillion-dollar contract which resulted in record pre-owned gross profit and unit sales, according to Cox.

“I am honored to be the first woman to receive this prestigious award,” said Bradford. “My role model, Mrs. Ellenae Fairhurst, a Lexus dealer in Alabama, gave me the foundation for my success with my first management job, for which I will be eternally grateful. Ms. Amber Martin’s keen business acumen to recognize talent afforded me the opportunity to sharpen my skills as general manager with the Martin Management Group. As we continue to surge forward growing the business, claiming new market share, increasing our support of the community and our profitability, my hope is to inspire other women to join the automotive industry.”

Bradford was chosen for the Rising Star Award based on nomination criteria such as being an NAMAD member under the age of 40 showing proven leadership qualities in the automotive industry.

She is a member of the Kentucky Auto Dealers Association, the American International Automobile Dealers Association Rising Dealers Network and NAMAD NextGen. In Frankfort, Ky., she participates in the Kentucky Auto Dealers Association’s Lobby Day which aims to educate legislature about issues that affect consumers, dealers and their employees.

Bradford also lobbies in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill with the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

Additionally, in her community, Bradford is a member of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and United Way.

In 2010, Bradford graduated from the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy at the top of her class.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Alabama A&M University and a master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In Bradford’s honor, Cox Automotive is donating $5,000 to one of its national diversity partners chosen by her.

She chose the National Urban League, a non-profit organization with a mission of empowering African-Americans through economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

NY asset management firm acquires 10-store Pittsburgh dealer group

NEW YORK - 

Another large dealership group in Pittsburgh is going through a change in ownership.

A little more than a month after Lithia Motors expanded its operations by securing Baierl Auto Group, GPB Capital announced on Monday that the New York-based asset management firm has acquired a majority stake in Kenny Ross Automotive Group, which operates 10 dealerships in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

GPB Capital purchased the majority ownership as part of a recapitalization of nine of Kenny Ross Automotive Group’s dealerships. Terms of the deal, which closed on June 27, were not disclosed.

“Kenny Ross Automotive Group has a meaningful history and solid reputation in Pittsburgh, and their successful dealerships serve as the ideal platform for us to grow our industry presence in western Pennsylvania,” said Manuel Frederico Vianna, managing partner with GPB Capital.

“The franchised auto dealer industry was the largest retail business in the U.S. in 2016, and we are eager to begin working with the Ross family to maximize the potential of these franchises,” Vianna continued in a news release.

The Kenny Ross Automotive Group portfolio includes franchises representing Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

“Our family has been privileged to serve our friends and neighbors in Pittsburgh for more than 60 years, and we look forward to working closely with GPB Capital to achieve our long-term goals as we enter the next phase of our growth,” said Jimmy Ross, chairman of Kenny Ross Automotive Group.

“GPB Capital is a natural partner for us because their team shares our commitment to our customers, our business, and meeting the needs of local customers and families,” Ross added.

Jeff Lash, Brian Marshall, Brian Brown and Stephen Jones of GPB Capital led the transaction on behalf of the firm. The Presidio Group provided M&A advisory services to Kenny Ross Automotive Group through its wholly owned investment bank, Presidio Merchant Partners.

Jimmy Ross has led the company his father founded in 1954 through 16 dealership acquisitions, and has accumulated more than 40 years of automotive retail experience in the Pittsburgh market.

“We look to partner with proven portfolio companies in order to provide capital and management expertise that enable them to achieve the next level of growth and profitability," said David Gentile, founder and chief executive officer of GPB Capital.

“We focus on income-producing private equity, and Kenny Ross Automotive Group’s proven management team and successful track record are great examples of the key acquisition criteria we look for in every deal that we pursue,” Gentile went on to say.

Lithia’s move was of a similar scale as Baierl operated Acura, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, Subaru and Toyota franchises.

Lithia anticipates used-car growth from Q2

MEDFORD, Ore.  - 

Based on preliminary results released Wednesday, Lithia Motors is expecting its same-store used-car unit sales to have increased 4.6 percent in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Lithia is anticipating a 3.8-percent to 4.1-percent increase in used-vehicle retail same-store sales.

All this part of a quarter where early indications have Lithia’s net income finishing between $51.5 million and $53 million in the second quarter (compared to $51.4 million a year ago) and revenue projected to reach somewhere between $2.425 billion and $2.475 billion, according to the company.

The retailer may also broaden its presence soon.

“We grew revenue and adjusted earnings per diluted share by double digits as our results exceeded our internal projections in the second quarter. Our store leaders continue to modify their tactics in this dynamic market and produced strong results in retail used vehicle sales, service and parts and F&I,” Lithia president and chief executive Bryan DeBoer said in a news release.

“The acquisition market remains active and we believe this is an opportune time to access additional capital for growth,” he said. “We seek greenfield-like returns on our acquisition targets and anticipate further activity in the near future.”

A full run-down of the forecast can be found in the news release from Lithia.  Complete results will be announced on July 28.  

LotLinx launches 2 new AI-driven consumer experience products

CHICAGO - 

To generate more high-quality conversions for car dealers, LotLinx has expanded its VS product suite with two new CX solutions designed to enhance and customize the customer experience, the company announced on Thursday.

The new products include CX - Photo AI and CX - Amplified Mobile Pages. Both have been equipped to extend VIN-specific consumer engagement and stimulate more profitable digital advertising campaigns, according to LotLinx.

“The auto industry is constantly evolving, particularly with the shift from traditional ad spend to digital campaigns and outreach,” LotLinx founder Len Short said in a news release. “With these new consumer-oriented products, we’re taking a ‘dealer-first’ approach with solutions specifically designed for dealers who are faced with increased days-on-lot metrics. This is an exciting step forward for our company.”

CX - Photo AI can boost underperforming ads with optimized stock photos using artificial intelligence, and CX - Amplified Mobile Pages offers dealers mobile-friendly VIN landing pages optimized to drive high-value conversions.

“Because today’s online car shoppers are 90 percent more likely to view an ad that contains an image, and will wait just 3 seconds for a page to load before abandoning, the logical next step for LotLinx was to release the consumer experience-oriented CX suite,” the digital advertising technology company said.

Photo AI was created to both formulate more relevant and visually appealing ads for viewers and detect when ads are running without an image, according to LotLinx.

“As global consumers rely more on smartphones for their shopping, AMP delivers faster, conversion-enhancing pages, allowing dealers to make the most out of mobile,” the company added.

Additionally, LotLinx recently expanded its VIN-specific solutions for Facebook to include VS - Lead-Enabled Retargeting and launched the LotLinx TURN platform earlier this year.

Infiniti dealers top Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index for 2nd year

MONTEREY, Calif. - 

The newly released Prospect Satisfaction Index U.S. Auto Industry Benchmarking Study by Pied Piper Management Company has ranked Nissan’s Infiniti brand dealerships the highest for a second year.

Toyota’s Lexus brand ranks second, and dealerships selling Mercedes-Benz are ranked third.

Pied Piper’s process to determine its rankings includes “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to industry sales success.

Between last July and this past June, the company measured in-dealership treatment of car-shoppers by deploying 5,289 hired anonymous “mystery shoppers” to dealerships located across the country.

“Today nine out of ten car-shoppers gather information on-line before they ever visit a dealership,” Fran O’Hagan, Pied Piper Management president and chief executive officer said in a news release. “Dealerships today have to work hard to be helpful from the first visit, because they may not have another opportunity.”

Tesla, Mitsubishi, Lincoln, Ram, Subaru and Chevrolet brands have improved the most from year to year, according to Pied Piper.

Tesla, which improved 8 points from 2016, had the most improvement of any brand, according to Pied Piper. The U.S. brands low PSI score resulted from high variability in sales process behaviors across Tesla stores, the company said.

“For example, Tesla staff on average asked how the vehicle would be used only about half the time (64%), asked about trade-ins 45% of the time, and suggested going through the numbers 56 percent of the time.” Pied Piper explained.

“About 23 percent of Tesla visits were exceptional experiences that under the PSI “letter grade” scale earned an “A,” with an average PSI score above 130.  However, 32 percent of the visits earned a PSI letter grade of “D” or “F,” with an average PSI score below 75.

A total of 21 brands improved or remained the same from 2016 to 2017, while 12 brands declined. Declining brands include Jeep, Fiat, Volkswagen and BMW.

Nine brands consistently ranking at or above the industry average each year includes Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Audi, BMW and Kia. 

Chevrolet, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Fiat are five brands that have scored below the industry average for each of the past five years.

For more information about the Prospect Satisfaction Index and Pied Piper’s scoring process, visit www.piedpiperpsi.com.

Jim Ellis Automotive Group gathers $65K for local first responders

ATLANTA - 

To kick off summer, the Jim Ellis Automotive Group wrapped up a successful charitable campaign where a portion of each sale during the month of May went to support local first responders. 

Thanks to the support of old and new customers alike, a total of $65,000 was raised and is being divided evenly between 10 Atlanta-area police and fire departments.

To distribute the funds raised through this campaign, the Jim Ellis Automotive Group decided to split funds between any police and fire department that is the responding agency for each of the Jim Ellis dealerships. This means that 10 first responding agencies will receive a check for $6,500, along with a catered lunch at their department when the funds are presented.

The agencies receiving funds include:

• Chamblee Police Department

• Cobb County Fire Department

• Cobb County Police Department

• DeKalb County Fire Department

• DeKalb County Police Department

• Doraville Police Department

• Gwinnett County Fire Department

• Gwinnett County Police Department

• Marietta Fire Department

• Marietta Police Department

Going above and beyond raising funds for local first responders, Jim Ellis Automotive dealerships are hosting first responder appreciation events in each of their dealership areas. The first appreciation breakfast was held on June 22 at Jim Ellis Mazda Marietta and events are scheduled to follow over the coming months at Jim Ellis Chamblee (July 20), Kennesaw (Sept. 14) and Buford (Oct. 19).

“First responders do so much for our communities and they often do not receive the honor or appreciation that they deserve,” Jim Ellis Automotive Group president Jimmy Ellis said. “Our local first responders put their lives on the line daily for the safety and well-being of complete strangers and we wanted to do something above and beyond to show our appreciation for them.

“Many of our customers made it clear that they feel the same way as they rallied behind us to support this endeavor,” Ellis continued. “We look forward to continuing this campaign through the rest of the year as we host appreciation events at our dealerships and offer special discounts to first responders in both sales and service.”

In addition to the cash donations that will be made to the local first responders that serve their dealership areas, Jim Ellis Automotive dealerships are offering special discounts for the rest of the year to all eligible first responders.

As a token of appreciation, all qualifying first responders can take advantage of $500 off their next vehicle when purchased from Jim Ellis. That is $500 off the best negotiated price at any of the Jim Ellis dealerships.

On the parts and service side, eligible first responders will receive 15 percent off parts and service at any Jim Ellis dealership through the end of the year.

Group 1 buys a dozen UK dealerships

HOUSTON  - 

Group 1 Automotive has purchased a 12-store dealership group in the United Kingdom, bumping its store count in the country to 43, the retailer announced Wednesday.

Beadles Group Ltd. includes seven brands throughout its dozen stores in the greater London area: Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Skoda, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen.

These stores will keep the Beadles name.

"The Beadles Group is a great fit for Group 1, as we further expand our footprint and brand portfolio in the UK. Beadles was established in 1893 and incorporated in 1915 and has an outstanding reputation for customer service and satisfaction," Group 1 chief executive Earl Hesterberg said in a news release. “This acquisition bolsters our scale, provides additional management resources, and introduces new brand partnerships in the UK. We are also pleased to grow our existing relationships with key brand partners.

"With this addition, our UK operations are estimated to generate over $2 billion in annualized revenues," he said.

The 12 dealerships themselves are expected to pull in annualized revenue of $330 million.

Holiday car shoppers are often ready to buy

CARY, N.C. - 

In the spirit of summer holidays like Independence Day, Cars.com suggests that auto dealers align their pre-holiday advertising and mobile content in time for holiday weekends.

The third-party shopping site found that during holidays, car shoppers tend to buy — and they also want special offers delivered to their mobile phones.

Consider the traffic dealerships saw this Memorial Day weekend.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, 30 percent of mobile consumers Cars.com surveyed purchased a car.

Roughly 71 percent of mobile consumers said they visited a dealer to specifically shop for a vehicle, and 26 percent for service, according to a recent Memorial Day Weekend survey on Cars.com’s blog.

On a non-holiday weekend, 60 percent of consumers visit a dealer for service and 40 percent to shop.

When it comes to special offers via mobile, around six out of 10 shoppers told Cars.com that they prefer “special offer” content shared with them on their mobile devices, while 81 percent of dealers prefer to share “why buy from us” mobile messaging, Cars.com Research and Insights senior manager Amanda Kaleta-Kott explained.

Additionally, during the Memorial Day weekend, 41 percent of all store visits were walk-ins where the shopper didn’t contact the dealer prior to making a visit.

Twenty percent of those walk-in shoppers surveyed by Cars.com bought a car over the holiday and seven out of 10 said they wish to make a purchase within three months.

Park Place moves Texas Jaguar store & adds Land Rover brand

GRAPEVINE, Texas - 

Park Place Dealerships has both moved its Jaguar dealership from Plano, Texas, to Grapevine and added the Land Rover brand to its portfolio.

Construction for Park Place’s new store, Jaguar Land Rover DFW, is complete and is set to open on Saturday with a roster of 70 employees. This is the third dealership in Northeast Tarrant County for the company.

“Northeast Tarrant County has been growing at a great rate since we opened the Lexus dealership in 2000,” Park Place chairman Ken Schnitzer said in a news release. “We moved our Mercedes-Benz dealership from the Mid-Cities to Grapevine in 2012 and we recently broke ground on a Porsche dealership, which we plan to open next year. To say we love doing business in this area may be an understatement.”

Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, Jaguar Land Rover DFW is a two-story, LEED-certified facility on eight acres that has a nine-car service drive, a 2,800-square-foot carwash and a shop with 34 service bays and an 18-car service drive.

“We will be adding jobs as we begin to assess new positions that will be needed to best serve our clients in the Park Place manner,” Park Place president Jordan Case explained. “We are always looking for people who enjoy taking care of others and working in an environment where they are valued.”

Additionally, Park Place’s newest facility’s showroom can hold up to 12 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, according to the company.

Park Place’s former Jaguar Plano store was a recipient of the 2016 Pride of Jaguar Retailer Excellence distinction for its fifth consecutive year. Only 16 of the 162 total Jaguar dealers in the U.S. were selected, according to the company.

Customer advocacy, sales and business excellence were the three core business categories Jaguar dealers were recognized for.

Last year, Jaguar Plano also earned the Marque of Distinction title as the No.1 Jaguar dealership in the country three years in a row. Just one Pride of Jaguar Retailer Excellence recipient is awarded the title each year.

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