Nearly all Saab dealers reached a dead end after SAAB bankruptcy in 2011. But not Park Ave Saab in Maywood, N.J. Although the Park Avenue Auto Group operates other brand franchises, it hasn’t given up on Saab just because the company isn’t making any new cars anymore.
Instead it’s set up shop in an old Suzuki showroom and is building a growing list of Saab customers across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – parts of that list acquired from other, closed Saab dealers in the region. The dealership, about 10 miles from Manhattan, bought the customer lists of several defunct Saab dealerships in the New York City area.
The store’s ultimate goal, explained General Manager Jeremy Morrissey, is to keep Saab customers happy. And when they are ready to quit their quirky Swedish cars, ease them into one of the company’s other brands.
There are more than 10,000 Saab owners in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area, according to the customer lists, giving Park Ave a solid customer base.
The store’s used-car and parts-and-service business has been strong, said Morrissey. In 2014, the store has:
• Averaged monthly sales of between 30 and 50 mostly high-end used cars.
• Billed between 600 and 700 hours per month in the service department. Park Ave employs two full-time technicians and a service writer.
• Boosted its parts business by targeting Saab owners and independent repair shops.
The store is posting a monthly operating profit of between $20,000 and $50,000 after all the bills, rent and wages are paid, said Morrissey, who has sold Saabs since the late 1980s.
“The Saab customer is very interesting,” Morrissey said. “They are very emotional about Saab, and it amazes me the loyalty customers have to that brand. They’d rather pay top dollar for a used 2011 than buy a new 2014 Volvo.“
So far, few die-hard Saab fans have quit the brand at his store. But that will change as the cars age and wear out, said Morrissey. He said customers often trade high-mileage Saabs from the 1980s and 1990s for newer models, such as the 9-5 from 2008-11.
About 450,000 Saabs are still in daily use in the United States, according to an estimate by Saab Automobile Parts North America, the Swedish-government owned business unit that distributes original equipment Saab service parts to 200 factory-authorized service centers in the United States.
“Is Saab defunct? Not at this dealership” originally appeared on Automotive News.