Whenever there is an article posted about Tesla and their factory owned dealership program I see a lot of comments about how privately owned dealerships are "outdated" or "bad for consumers."
I feel, as someone who has been well served on both sides of the desk by franchised dealers, obligated to say something.
In my time as a service advisor, and occasionally as a sales consultant, I've seen plenty of people bring their car in for service because it was "making a weird noise" or something to that effect. Often times these issues are difficult to replicate, and a major source of tension between customers who are strapped for time and dealers who cannot submit a warranty claim to the manufacturer without proof. Have you ever been one of these people? Has a dealer ever taken care of you anyway? Many dealers will help out anyway as an act of good will toward the customer. My dealer has a policy to just do the right thing.
Does your car come with rentals while it is in for service? Many don't. In many of the situations like the above, even if they do, good luck getting one for that phantom noise or problem without submitting a valid warranty claim. Again, as an act of good will many dealers I've seen have just gone ahead and footed the bill for the customer.
Have you ever bought a used vehicle and had an issue pop up a month down the road? I recently sold a pickup to a gentleman who found out the rear defroster didn't work. Did our company tell him, "Tough luck, it's a used vehicle, and you bought it as-is. Should have paid a few thousand more for coverage." Nope. We did the right thing. Good luck getting General Motors to cover something broken on your used Nissan.
Speaking of General Motors, they've really done a great job of running their business. Imagine the cost the next time we have to bail them AND their entire dealer network out. Just imagine if your sales consultant at the Chrysler dealership treated you with the same care as the guy who built it after getting hammered on his lunch break.
Manufacturers only go so far to train dealership personnel. Often it's a litany of outdated, horribly boring tests that take a couple weeks and a couple hundred bucks paid to the new guy to finish. Many dealers pay a LOT out of their own pockets to train their consultants. Would you rather buy a car from someone who can help you find the RIGHT car, or from some minimum wage Target dropout who can only tell you "Well you said you wanted a blue one, and I think it has satellite radio..."
NOBODY likes to haggle the price on their new car down right? Nobody has EVER called more than one dealer and worked them against each other right? I've found your biggest competition as a dealer is not another brand, but the guy selling the same car down the street. That competition keeps prices low. Good luck getting a factory owned dealer to beat another factory owned dealer on price.
Good luck getting a really great deal period. If you buy a car today, you're getting a great deal before you argue a cent off the price. Have you ever bought a car on the last day of the month, or on a bad weather day? I've seen the desk down right LOSE money just to put a unit on the board. Good luck getting anything like that out of a factory owned store.
I'm sure that just like every other article on the subject I'll see plenty of comments to the contrary, but honestly ask yourself if the grass will really be greener.