FTC to Host Public Workshop Examining the U.S. Auto Distribution System Workshop Will Explore Competition, State Regulations, and Emerging Trends in the Industry, Project No. P131202 #270

Submission Number:
Shannon Harper
Initiative Name:
FTC to Host Public Workshop Examining the U.S. Auto Distribution System Workshop Will Explore Competition, State Regulations, and Emerging Trends in the Industry, Project No. P131202
As a 31year old business person I can certainly understand the disdain that some people hold for car dealerships, but as the second generation owner of six dealerships in a mid size market I can tell you that the direct sales model minimizes protections for the consumer. Franchised car dealerships exist to serve our local markets and support our communities. The argument that the car dealer model increases cost for consumers ignores the fact that car dealerships lose money on new car sales to remain competitive and earn market share in our communities. We have a vested interest in supporting our employee's families and the customers in our towns that a publicly traded manufacturer would not have. Our customers relish the fact that if there is any issue then they can reach me personally and have it resolved. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Would the CEO of GM or Tesla be available to their customers at all? Is the FTC's current administration philosophically against car dealerships or against unsavory car dealership practices such as "doc fees" or addendum stickers? If they are against the unsavory practices then that should be the focus of attack, not the entire model. Personally, we avoid those pinch points for our consumers and the fact that other dealers still practice those archaic tactics make it easier for us to set ourselves apart from the competition. Our independent online reviews from google, dealer rater, yelp, etc. are proof of our customer first model. Go after the disease, but don't kill the patient. Tesla insists that selling Electric vehicles and ICE vehicle is too different. He is wrong. If I was a franchised Tesla dealer with an investment in facility, trained staff, and inventory then I would be doing my best to support the Tesla brand in our market by offering the best in sales and service experience to my customers. Tesla's direct sales model idea is a distraction from the real issue of negative cashflow of their business operations. They simply can't afford to lose money on each car and also support the billion dollar plus investment in facility rollout and the continued staffing of those locations. We represent Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, Infiniti, Acura, Volkswagen ,FIAT, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati and we are held to incredibly high standards in customer satisfaction, market share, training, and facility investments. If we don't meet their standards then we can't be competitive and the weak eventually work themselves out of the market. I can't speak directly for our OEMs, but I have a strong feeling that they have been quiet on this issue because our small return on investment is worth it to them in order to avoid the hassle involved with running a successful car dealership. It is not easy and it is not always fun, but the supporting our 244 employees and their families and serving our local market is entirely worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. In closing, I would ask that you consider the negative impact on thousands of dealership employees and millions of consumers by allowing behemoth car manufacturers running without oversight. Consumers receive better service and better pricing with competition. Tesla does not discount their vehicles one penny and how could that possibly be good for competition? Shannon Harper Vice President Harper Auto Square www.harperautosquare.com