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Sink profits into upgrades? Some dealers cringe

While dealerships have posted some of their biggest profits ever in recent years, many dealers are reluctant to spend on expensive building projects unless a store is too small or otherwise in obvious need of refreshing.

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For Earl Stewart, the customer comes first, but everyone else is catching on

Earl Stewart Toyota has made a name for itself by openly eschewing deceptive practices that have given car dealerships a bad name. But as more and more rival dealers change their ways, the family fears its edge may be lost.

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New GM: ?I would never leave this place'

A LaFontaine Automotive Group dealership general manager's climb up the company's ladder began with a neighborly chat with group founder Mike LaFontaine.

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Brothers make sure construction of showy new store doesn't disrupt business

Rising up on a busy stretch of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in the inner-ring Atlanta suburb of Chamblee is the new home of Hennessy Ford-Lincoln Atlanta. There was no arguing that it needed to happen.

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The guiding light, across 17 stores

As corporate controller, Marissa Hunt oversees compliance, accounting and human resources, but she also has a seat at the table as the LaFontaine Automotive Group hones its vision and considers acquisitions.

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The road map for succession planning becomes more complex

While the succession to a fourth generation of Smith auto retailers has mostly gone well, it has taken a lot of planning to keep the business in family hands through wars, recessions and several brand changes.

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?It's destructive. It's disgusting'

Steve Kalafer, who began selling cars out of a gas station more than four decades ago, argues that improvements in stair-step target programs do not make up for new-vehicle margins that have steadily eroded in recent years, in part because of the programs.

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LaFontaine is battling one of the industry?s most stubborn challenges ? and winning

LaFontaine Automotive Group seems to have mastered the employment conundrum, boasting a stellar turnover rate of 16 percent annually for the group.

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Recession hit, and she found another 'family'

At just 5 years old, Nicole Welch, the daughter of a dealership general manager, was mesmerized by cars and numbers. When she visited her dad at work, she would pretend to crunch numbers. She's not pretending anymore.

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Awaiting new store, staff faces challenges, but sales are still up

At Hennessy Ford-Lincoln Atlanta, new-vehicle sales are operating out of a makeshift office inside eight connected construction trailers, the department's temporary home since November. Meanwhile, managers and employees are doing what they can to get people through the door.

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