Jack Fitzgerald Named an Automotive News “Visionary Dealer”

In its recent “Visionary Dealers” issue, Automotive News’ DC correspondent Audrey LaForest profiled former WANADA Chairman Jack Fitzgerald.  The article has been reprinted in part below and can be viewed online here.

Veteran dealer Jack Fitzgerald started a “no haggle” pricing philosophy in 1979, when Chrysler was facing its first brush with bankruptcy. It changed his dealership sales culture. For veteran dealer and industry advocate Jack Fitzgerald, a change in his stores’ pricing philosophy started with a cash-starved automaker and a tent.

It was 1979, when Chrysler Corp. faced its first brush with bankruptcy and the financially troubled automaker launched national tent sales across its dealership network to try to stay afloat and reduce its inventory.

“To be in the tent sale, the dealers had to put their rock-bottom price on the windshield of the car, and they had to sell it for that price,” Fitzgerald told Automotive News this month.

Fitzgerald — who founded Fitzgerald’s Colonial Dodge in Bethesda, Md., in 1966, and had  several Chrysler dealerships by 1979 — said sales at the time were “abysmal.”

“We were desperate. We’d try anything, so we participated in the [tent] sale,” he recalled. “We put the prices on the windshield — no haggle, no hassle — and I was amazed at how effective that was with consumers.”

Chrysler later secured nearly $1.5 billion in loans from the federal government, and many of its dealers went back to the traditional way of selling vehicles.

But for Fitzgerald, no-haggle pricing was here to stay. Continue reading here.

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