The Silicon Review
Over the last few years, the functions of auto dealerships have drastically changed from being just a medium between the customers and OEM to giving a 360 buying experience to the buyers. Auto brands are putting in a lot of effort to realign their businesses, and dealerships are at their forefront. Dealerships are the perfect gateway for buyers to get new information on the current automotive ecosystem, which is rapidly expanding. Auto dealers make sure that the customers get the best out of their investment in terms of deals, experience, products, and service. Globally there are various auto dealers delivering excellent services, but Dennis & Co. Auto Group stands out from the rest. Dennis & Co. Auto Group was formed following the purchase of the group’s fourth dealership. The initiative was to take advantage of the shared efficiencies and economies of scale to facilitate growth and increase earnings. By consolidating the accounting for the dealerships, the group was able to realize a 35% cost savings compared to single-point dealerships. This savings was reinvested to create a management platform to support the dealerships in critical areas, including performance, operations, fixed operations, human resources, customer experience, and customer care.
The platform for dealership management has since expanded to include a complete digital transformation of the sales and service process and has in turn provided growth through Ecommerce, Consolidated parts distribution, and management of derivatives businesses, including collision and used car centers. Dennis & Co. Auto Group provides dealerships within the group with support in all areas of the business, including facility management, recruiting and hiring, training, development, and retention, along with fundamental business services such as payroll and HR Management.
Additionally, the Management platform supports the dealership’s operations on a regular basis with fundamental but critical guidance on advertising, merchandising, inventory management, personnel management, and financial forecasting and tracking. With the industry transformation to online and remote selling, Dennis & Co. AG is ahead of the curve with integrating the online and in-store experience to create a seamless process that delivers time savings and a time-efficient best-in-class experience to the dealership customers. The digital implementation team has made the entire sales, service, parts, and accounting process digital and eliminated traditional paper-based transactions. This has led to an increase in efficiency, including remote accounting, and provided an increase in Ecommerce.
Leader behind the success
Brian Dennis founded Dennis & Co. Auto Group in 2006 when he purchased Riverdale Chrysler Jeep. He transformed the company from an underperforming single-point store into a business that currently generates $380M+ in annual revenue and consists of ten dealerships, a warranty company, and real estate holdings. Brian provides executive oversight on all business activities, leads the management team, and ultimately oversees 600+ employees. Brian has been expanding his management team to build for the future as he continues to identify growth opportunities. Brian earned his way up, starting in dealership sales and then finance management, to founding his first business in 1999-a national sub-prime financing company, Advantage Finance Solutions. His lifelong passion for the auto business has led Brian to serve in industry leadership positions, including as newly appointed Chairman (previously Vice Chairman) of New York State Automobile Dealers Association (NYSADA) and Chairman of NYSADA’s Legislative Committee. In these roles, he has worked with U.S. Senators, Congressmen, Attorney General, and New York State Governor to strengthen New York State’s auto dealer support. Brian also participates in the NADA Dealer 20 Group: CD-03—the highest performing group for all FCA brands and third highest-rated for all brands—and serves on Stellantis NE Business Center Dealer Council and the Kia National Dealer Council, where he actively represents all FCA and Kia dealers to manufacturers. Brian studied Business and Finance at Walsh College and is a 2006 graduate of the NADA Dealer Academy. He grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, and currently resides in Mamaroneck, NY, with his wife, Tina, and their three children. Brian likes to travel, fish, run, participate in Spartan Tough Mudders, and play golf and hockey.
Leading the company in success path
When the TSR asked Brian Dennis, Founder, and President of Dennis & Co. Auto Group, about how he maintains his venture successfully, he stated that “when we transitioned from our first dealership into multiple locations and finally into a group with a dedicated management company, the driving principle was an opportunity. Starting a new business, the projects and areas that needed attention were obvious. As the business matured, we had to focus closer on finding incremental growth opportunities and continue to refine our strategy and processes to maintain operations and increase efficiencies.” He furthermore added that “both experiences were equally challenging and required full commitment to creating opportunity whether by adding scale or maintaining the existing operations and finding efficiency. Opening a new business is exciting, and maintaining is equally satisfying while both are equally challenging for different reasons.”
The primary mission of the Auto Group is to continually scale the operation to expand offerings and to generate capital to invest in keeping up with the transformation of the industry. Growth in earnings requires capital investment, which generates earnings that are invested in additional offerings such as Ecommerce, consolidated accounting, consolidated parts wholesale distribution, and expanded business such as collision centers that provide vertical integration. The digital transformation of the business, albeit slowly, to digital and remote sales and service requires constant investment in implementation and training. Creating a seamless, efficient, and even touchless system for purchasing vehicles, parts, or vehicle repair will benefit the customer and increase efficiency and profitability for the group. The company creates opportunities for team members that encourage its growth and development through investment in training, first-hand experience, and by way of scale. The more we grow the group, the greater number of opportunities there are for advancement, which inspires employees to give their full effort to reach the next level. In addition to its training, development, and retention department, there is a concerted effort to help employees achieve their goals and, in turn, allows the company to continue to grow.
Upcoming services and future plans
When the TSR asked Brian about the new services, he stated that “we have recently reached a scale and represent enough manufacturers and brands that we can create a consolidated parts network for wholesale distribution. We can quickly accelerate our revenue growth by leveraging our existing wholesale and distribution network based on our geographic concentration. In addition to the consolidated parts wholesale plan, we are focusing our energy on Ecommerce for the remote sales of vehicles outside of our primary market territory. Finally, we are investing in additional acquisitions of collision centers to support the group.” Future plans of the company include continued growth and expansion of the company through acquisition and the construction of new dealerships in unrepresented markets, which will provide many opportunities for the over 600 employees of Dennis & Co. Auto Group to advance their careers and prosper. Customers will be able to purchase pre-owned vehicles from any dealership in the group from their local Dennis & Co. dealership utilizing a shared online retail platform. Customers will benefit from local access to the expanding inventory of pre-owned vehicles throughout the network of dealerships. Touchless maintenance and repair, and collision services will be offered, including online scheduling and the convenience of at-home pickup and delivery.