Demos keep pros on the sales staff
This is directed to the dealers who insist on paying car allowances to sales personnel instead of providing demos:
Do you find a large number of strong, professional salespeople looking for jobs at your store? Probably not. If demos are phased out, you won't see any.
This is a tough business, and demos should be continued as a perk. Phasing out demos will hurt your profits even more than they are being hurt now by such things as Internet invoice information and smaller margins from the manufacturers.
Let's try to keep the pros in this business.
JOEL M. LIBAVA
Assistant Sales Manager
Remember who's most important
Get rid of demos, get rid of good salespeople.
Not one article in your entire newspaper deals with the most important aspect of the automobile business - the salesperson.
We are the front line, the infantry, and you offer absolutely no support. Instead, you publish stories about bean counters who want dealers to take away demos.
Please remember: The important person at the dealership is the one who creates the profit, not the one who counts it.
His demo is a moving billboard
Taking away my demo is like taking away the CPA's adding machine. It is a powerful tool of my trade.
In my short 13-year career, I have seen plenty of changes. When will the CPA recommend that we do away with salespeople and inventory?
I find the argument of CPA William Nesdore (Letters, March 30) flawed and biased. You may consider the 20 demos to be 20 vehicles out of inventory that a dealer has to floorplan and insure, but that is not the case.
My car is always part of the selection that we offer a customer. It is clean and presentable. We would have to insure it anyway. Selling a demo has never been a problem. The salesman who drives it is responsible for it.
A demonstrator is a moving billboard for a dealership, giving us an opportunity to advertise in 20 neighborhoods.
How many times has a person looked at my car and asked, 'Is that the new such-and-such?' That is followed up with my business card and maybe a test drive right there in the grocery store parking lot. It gives me a chance to get Mrs. Jones into a 1998 model while her 1995 is in for repair.
As punishment for his silly letter, I suggest that we make the CPA take a 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle (if you can find one) out to any mall parking lot. We are 24-hour, seven-days-a-week salesmen.
Give me a break. My demo is the perk I cherish most (aside from the free lunch the dealer provides on Saturday).
VINCENT J. LUMIA
1st, 10-day sales; now, production
I want to comment on the Big 3's plan to stop issuing weekly production reports.
As with the elimination of 10-day sales figures, an important barometer of the economy will be lost. I object!
The temporary closure of an assembly plant impacts the supply side as does the increase/decrease in weekly production volume.
CARL M. IRICK
Director of Engineering
John Brown Plastics Machinery
Kvaerner U.S. Inc.
Council chairman tells Cadillac story
There are three periods in hockey, four quarters in football and nine innings in baseball. And the final score isn't necessarily determined right after the game begins.
I say this because there are nine selling months left in 1998, but I feel as if I've just read an obituary in Keith Crain's April 13 column in which he declared that 'Cadillac has already lost first place to Lincoln.' I'm writing to tell you that from my perspective, Cadillac is not only very healthy right now but will be even stronger in the years to come.
It seems that Crain's overall point is sales leadership, which, yes, is important to Cadillac and its dealers. We've been the best-selling luxury car for 48 years, and I'm very proud of that.
Equally important is a product portfolio that lives up to the Cadillac brand promise. I'm very confident - as are many of my dealer colleagues - in our current product lineup.
Our sales are strong. For example, Seville was up 67.7 percent in March and 23.2 percent for the first quarter of 1998.
Crain is critical of the Catera and portrays us as trying to shroud a failure in positive adjectives. That's completely unfair. I don't feel I need to convince anyone of Catera's success; the statistics speak for themselves.
Cadillac sold 25,411 Cateras in 1997. The Catera is drawing a new buyer to Cadillac - 45 percent are female, 60 percent traded in a non-General Motors vehicle, and the average age is 10 years younger than that of the average Cadillac buyer.
Looking ahead, I'm even more excited about what's coming for Cadillac dealers and customers. Cadillac will introduce a new product every year for the foreseeable future. To me, it's very obvious that GM is committed to making Cadillac the flagship of GM and the standard of the world again.
Again, we've been No. 1 for 48 years, and, knowing what I know about the future of Cadillac and its product portfolio, I'm confident we'll be the luxury leader in the United States for many years to come.
While the leadership race will be close this year, I, for one, am not throwing in the towel in the first quarter.
E.A. NIMNICHT II
Cadillac National Dealer Council
Let LaSalle rest in limbo
I thoroughly enjoyed John Teahen's April 6 column on the Escalade.
I saw a documentary on Cadillac a few weeks back that provided a lot of insight on the LaSalle - a very interesting story, to say the least.
Teahen is absolutely right. Let the name lie in limbo.
I, too, am glad it was not applied to another excessive, clumsy-looking (and, in this case, probably gaudy), ill-handling sport-utility.
W.B. Doner & Co.
LaSalle, 300 and a '56 Patrician
I agree with John Teahen on the Cadillac Escalade (April 6), and I feel the same way he does about sport-utilities. The LaSalle was too beautiful a car to have its name slathered across an oversized version of a boxy station wagon.
Chrysler is forging the way with the retro image, and I was pleased when it attempted to revive the 300 name. Unfortunately, Chrysler committed the sacrilege of putting it on a four-door sedan. Why not a convertible?
We have a great automotive heritage in the United States, and I am always pleased to see it acknowledged. Now, if we could only figure a way to get a bailout from Congress for Packard. Then I could get parts and service for my 1956 Patrician.
Owings Mills, Md.