GM dangles special pricing to families of dealership staffers

GM's incentive spending rose 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier to 11.2 percent. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
UPDATED: 10/8/15 9:39 am ET - corrected

Editor's note: The GM discount certificates must be redeemed by Nov. 2. GM corrected the time frame for redemption from what was reported in an earlier version of this story.

DETROIT -- General Motors is looking to boost sales by offering steep discounts to a vast new buying pool: families of U.S. dealership employees.

The one-month offer allows anyone who shares an address with an employee of one of GM’s roughly 4,200 dealerships to qualify for the Dealership Employee discount, which knocks off about 8 to 10 percent from the sticker price on most models.

The promotion covers nearly all models across the lineups of Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac. The employee price can be combined with other incentive offers too, in most cases.

For example, a GMC Acadia SLT with a sticker price of $41,745 can be had for the dealership-employee price of about $38,350, according to a GM website detailing the program. Applying current incentives gets the price down to $35,602.84.

Buyers have until Nov. 2 -- the last day of the industry’s sales-reporting cycle for October -- to obtain and redeem the discount certificates. 

It’s the first time in about a decade that GM had extended the dealership-employee deal to family members.

In a note sent to dealers last week, GM U.S. sales chief Steve Hill called it “a great opportunity to help someone at home enjoy significant savings on a new GM vehicle.”

The offer comes amid rising incentive activity industrywide. Incentive spending through September this year equaled 10.5 percent of average transaction prices, up from 10.0 percent a year earlier, according to J.D. Power data cited by GM. The automaker’s spending also rose 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier, to 11.2 percent.

Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said GM’s incentive spending has been restrained even as competition heats up.

“In past years, you’d typically expect them to be among the first ones to resort to bad behavior,” he said. “But they’ve stayed relatively disciplined.”

GM historically has leveraged employee-discount programs for a short-term sales boost.

In 2013, it expanded its U.S. employee discount program to workers’ aunts, uncles and other extended family. In the summer of 2005, GM ran an employee-price-for-everyone promotion that sparked a big sales spike.

GM’s U.S. sales rose 4.2 percent this year through September to 2,299,847 vehicles, just off the industry’s 5 percent growth rate. Its retail sales rose 7.2 percent, the largest increase of the top seven automakers.

You can reach Mike Colias at autonews@crain.com

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