Bill Heard: Bad business or signs of the times?

Nathan Scripps
I am sure all of you have heard the news about Bill Heard closing all stores rather abruptly. The stated reasons include dependence on trucks and suvs not matching market demand, economic slowdown, and unfavorable operating costs. The unstated reasons include recent news of GMAC pulling floorplan finances, a few lawsuits pending from various state better business bureaus, and a wave of bad consumer reviews. I was surprised to see such an abrupt closing of so many stores. I know a few people in the organization there, good people mind you, and am sorry to see them without a job. But I have to ask (and thought this a great audience), is this a result of bad business catching up, or is this a sign of the times? In either case, do you think this is the tip of an iceberg that may have other stores across the country following suit?
Larry Schlagheck
Nathan: Great post! On the surface (it'll take a while for the true story to unveil itself) two things really stick out: 1) all 13 stores closed 2) GMAC pulled its floorplanning When you combine these two it just stinks of mis-management. How do you get so deeply into trouble that you have to close all 13 stores? Even the most idiotic retailers will shutter the poor performers and keep the bread-n-butter stores open while they regroup. As for the floorplanning, there's only one reason GMAC made this decision: it saw a hopeless cause. BH can spin it any way they want and they did by saying these drastic measures are a result of "rising fuel prices, a product portfolio of mostly heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles, economic recession, unfavorable local market conditions for vehicle sales, the crisis in the banking and financing sectors, and other factors all combined to create a business environment in which the company simply did not have the resources needed to continue to operate.'' Wait! You
Jared Hamilton
I dont know anything about Bill Heard's group, but I can make a blanket statement and say that there is no correlation between a dealerships cash position and their profitability. Yes, you can actually run a profitable store and sell yourself right out of business. Cash management, or lack thereof, can bring a store to its knees, even the high volume well known stores. There has been such a sudden steep drop in sales I would say most important thing on any GM or DP mind right now is their cash position. No more checks by mail on dealer trades and keep your wholesalers close in today's market... thats my advice.
Paul Rushing
I know people that have worked inside of that organization and if you google their names and location areas you will see that their slide started way before the gas crunch if what their customers say about them is any indication. As far as the people I have worked with that cut their teeth with the Bill Heard organization all I can say is they were short timers for the most part and carried certain traits and ideas that would scare most that have a clue about building a long term business.
Eric Miltsch
This isn't the result of the economy; this is the direct result of deceptive business practices (GA's AG has been on their tail for a while) and the simple fact they went out of trust w/GM about last month. Once that happens, the clock is ticking and it'll only run for about 30 days.
Johnny Ryals
Bill Heard's failure was a direct result of poor management and lack of oversite. I am really surprised they made it as long as they did.

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