We received an email today that pointed to a great Automotive News piece on Charles River Saab. The article is more or less telling the story of one dealerships commitment to Saab and the people. From what I read, this is one dealer that truly understands customer service and what it means to take care of the people who helped to make you who you are today.
Ray Ciccolo is the owner of Charles River Saab which is the oldest Saab store in the country. One of the quotes that stands out from the article to me is the following:
“If a customer trades in a Saab, someone else is going to buy it and they’ll need service,” says Ciccolo, president of Village Automotive Group in Boston. “So that’s our goal: We’re going to be the go-to Saab dealership for the Northeast.”
When a lot of previous Saab dealers have either thrown in the towel, called it a day or moved onto another brand, Ciccolo is expanding his Saab service and parts operations.
Specifically, Ciccolo wants to be the largest Saab service and parts operator in his region and he is spending about $100,000 to do so. He is buying as many Saab parts as he can. He has consolidated his Saab parts warehouse and service center near his Volvo store in Boston to cut costs.
Ciccolo will hire two additional Saab service technicians. He will launch a direct-mail marketing campaign to Saab owners in eastern Massachusetts this month.
On the sales side of the business, they are looking to purchase as many of the 2011 Saab’s being auctioned off by Ally and foresees potential profits from Saab sales.
“Dealers aren’t doing anything with the brand and so their customers are going to look to go someplace that’s expanding to get good service,” Ciccolo says. “I see at least three years of good business.”
The article goes into a little more detail as to how they see the opportunity and the numbers involved. Ciccolo it says believes there to be 5,000 to 8,000 Saab customers in the Boston area who are orphaned. These numbers alone to me look like a huge business opportunity. Of that 5-8,000 customers, I’m sure they could move a lot of the vehicles up for auction from Ally. Then you look at the service side where they are currently servicing 25 Saab’s a day and he believes that could double with expansion.
He seems to not be overly optimistic about Saab being revived, in fairness I think just as fans are cautiously optimistic, so too are they. In the meantime they are prepared to take care of their previous customers as well as any who have lost their dealership in this process.
“We’re going to treat it as a business opportunity and if the brand comes back, fine.” Ciccolo says. “If it doesn’t we’ll take care of the people we’ve sold Saabs to.”
The full article from Automotive News was written by Jamie LaReau and can be found here.