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The managing partner of ROUTE 66 Dealer Network LLC says the dealership buying group is on target to reach 66 members by the first of next year, although he declined to release specific membership numbers in late August.
“That’s always been our goal, and that’s very achievable,” said managing partner Dave Francis, a long-time advertising executive. “We are ahead of the goal of where we wanted to be, and right now, we are almost exclusively growing based on referrals from our own principles.”
ROUTE 66, with headquarters in Shawnee Mission, Kan., was launched in late 2003 with a core membership of 25 mid-sized RV dealers. Spearheading the new collective venture are Francis and his brother, Steve Francis, owner of Trailside RV, Grain Valley, Mo.
Initially offering members a handful of financing and insurance services, ROUTE 66 is in the process of expanding its program offerings, Dave Francis said. Early next year ROUTE 66 will open a retail sales site on the Internet that will allow members to actually sell product.
Route 66 also is developing a nationwide Classic Customer Service program. “If you purchase from a ROUTE 66 dealer, there is a certain level of service you will be able to expect if you pull your unit into another ROUTE 66 dealership,” Dave Francis said. “We don’t have full agreement on the policies yet, but we are working through it right now.”
Francis said a dealership’s size – initially between $10 million and $50 million in annual sales – has been de-emphasised as a membership criteria.
“The size of a dealership has become less important than getting the right dealers,” he said. “If it comes back to that, we’d rather have no dot on the map than a bad dot. We don’t want a dot that doesn’t have value and integrity. We all want to be able to count on each other.”