What a different place Ford, GM dealers must be in

If you’re a Ford dealer, Detroit is a land of peace and prosperity these days. But if you’re a GM dealer, Detroit is likely a thorn in your side.

Ford is hosting its annual dealer meeting in Detroit this week. At the meeting, Ford execs brief dealers on marketing, product development and finances. Ford also takes the dealers to beautiful Belle Isle on the Detroit River to test drive new products.

Unlike years past, the dealers I’ve spoken to are walking light on their feet with smiles on their faces.

And why shouldn’t they? Ford posted a first-quarter net profit of $2.1 billion; April sales rose 25 percent vs. a year ago, compared to GM’s 7 percent gain; new product is in the pipeline; and Ford says most of its 3,513 dealerships are profitable.

One dealer summed it up: “The dealers were really enthused about everything.”

In another part of Detroit, hundreds of GM dealers are in arbitration hearings to win their dealerships back.

They must be watching those Ford dealers with a glint of envy in their eyes.