Shutting the Doors
My story is much like that of many small business owners across America and it’s not a pretty one. The auto industry and their dealerships suffered greatly after the restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors and as a former Ford dealer, I can tell you when the time came to shut our doors, even though we were a franchise business, the decision wasn’t easy, but necessary and finally, inevitable.
First, a short and sweet version of my story. Our business was originally supposed to be a Ford-Lincoln-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in a small town in New Mexico (because that’s what my husband and I bought), only we found upon signing the papers that Chrysler and Ford said we’d have to “de-dual" meaning split the two franchises onto two different properties. However, we had no money to buy another piece of land to move one of the franchises.
A fight with the original seller of the business came because our buy/sell agreement did indeed say the deal was sealed only if both Chrysler and Ford approved of the sale—which they did not—and in the end, Chrysler took back their franchise point and we were left with only Ford—not even Lincoln! That cut back five vehicle lines if you count them all (Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and the new line, Ram Trucks).
Lawsuits ensued, our customer base who wanted a new vehicle in the lines we couldn’t sell anymore went elsewhere, and we lost the ability to complete and be paid for any Chrysler warranty work.
As with most businesses, because our revenues decreased that didn’t mean our expenses did. We still had rent, operating expenses, payroll and vendor expenses.
Our business was in a rural area of Northern New Mexico and no matter how hard we tried, the debts outweighed the income, and we were forced by lawsuit decisions, expenses and Ford to close the doors in January of 2011.
While my story is not original, what I hope I can do here is provide anyone going through the same or about to go through something similar, some helpful advice on getting back into the workforce before depression sets in and you find yourself lost, alone and in debt you can’t pay.