Heads of Import Car Franchises Riding High

Southern California chief executives who operate automobile franchises selling imported cars make considerably more annually than those with domestic franchises, according to a recent survey.

The average compensation of the 118 chief executives surveyed ranged from a low of $206,000 among single-point domestic dealers to $314,000 for those owning two import franchises, according to Parke, Guptill & Co.'s auto business management department, the West Covina-based accounting firm that conducted the survey.

Best-compensated of all were those who owned two import franchises. Such owners made $56,000 a year more than those who owned two domestic automobile franchises.

Even owning an import franchise in combination with a domestic franchise was more lucrative than having a dual domestic franchise alone, the survey found. Owners of a combined domestic/import franchise made $41,000 a year more than franchises with a domestic/domestic combination.

The spread was less pronounced with single-point dealerships. Owners of import franchises made only $35,000 more than their domestic counterparts.

The dollar figures reflect total compensation--including stock ownership, if any--and measure only the compensation received by the owner or chief executive of the company that owns the dealership.

The survey reflects responses from dealers in 10 counties in Southern California.

Chuck J. Ghilione, manager of Parke, Guptill's auto business mangement department, said the higher compensation for imported car franchise owners reflects a combination of factors, including generally higher retail prices for the cars and stronger sales. Faster sales, he said, means there is less need for expensive parking space to store cars.

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