Saturn's loss, Byrider's gain

November 3, 2009
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There’s nothing quite like the pleasure of holding a strong financial position when opportunity comes knocking.

J.D. Byrider, the Indianapolis company that runs 130 used-car lots across the country, expects to add 25 to 35 franchises on lots now operated by Saturn dealers.

Mike Pearce, who heads Byrider’s franchise development, blanketed the dealers with direct mail, and he’s getting four to five responses a day.

Pearce thinks the Saturn dealers are snookered. No one will sell them new cars—certainly General Motors won’t. And other manufacturers are trying to cull dealers, not add them.

“They have no option but to turn to used cars,” he says.

They’ll struggle to break into the upper crust of used cars, those four years old or newer, because the competition is intense, Pearce says.

So he figures they’ll have little choice but to drop down into Byrider’s milieu—cars with five to 10 years of age. (A typical Byrider sale these days is a 2003 Ford Taurus with 83,000 miles.)

Pearce believes Byrider is the nation’s only franchised “buy here, pay here” system, and it’s clearly the largest. In addition to buying its cars, Byrider sells and services them, and holds its own paper rather than selling it.

Pearce thinks he could sign more than 35 locations by the end of next year, but the growth would strain Byrider’s ability to get the franchisees on their feet. It also would push Byrider into more debt at a time the company is paying down debt quickly.

The company is still adjusting three years after its founder and chairman, Jim DeVoe, and his CEO son-in-law, Steele Gudal, were killed in a plane crash. Those positions have been filled by Jim’s wife, Andy, and their son, Jimmy DeVoe.

Any thoughts about Saturn’s demise? About seeing the Byrider name on Saturn turf?

 

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  • Byrider on the Grow!
    It's great to see a home grown Indiana company making positive national waves and growing its business. It can only be good for Indianapolis. Good luck JD Byrider!
  • BEWARE OF BYRIDER
    It is a bad business model. Saturn dealers, BEWARE!! Ask for a list of former franchisees. If they are so good at it, why are they closing their own corporate locations. If you are already a car dealer, why pay $10k a month for software for 10 years. Software is available for under $2k by other reputable providers. There is no secret sauce to the car business!!

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