He'll go for `store,' but it isn't easy
I enjoyed Tom G. Drewes' July 5 letter about the proper way to refer to dealerships.
As a lifelong former grocer, we always referred to our business as a 'store.' Upon entering the auto business, I was shocked to hear dealerships called 'stores.'
It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I, too, now refer to dealerships as 'stores.'
I've made the change, but I don't understand it.
Iron River Chrysler
Iron River, Mich.
Call them `stores,' large dealer says
I am responding to Tom G. Drewes' July 5 letter. He asked, 'I wonder what the dealers think,' referring to your calling automotive retail establishments 'stores' rather than 'dealerships.'
We (the Galeanas) have franchised automotive sales and service facilities in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida. In conversation, we refer to them as 'stores' much more often than 'dealerships.'
However, that hasn't always been.
As the automotive business has changed, it realized that it isn't as unique as it once thought it was. Since it was catering to the same customers, using the label 'store' rather than 'dealership' seemed only natural.
Obviously, that was one of the minor changes. Looking at things in reverse, I don't understand why the term 'dealership' was ever applied.
Drewes referred to Kmart and Hudson's as stores. My question: What are the differences between those stores and an automobile store?
They all display, promote and market their products to customers.
They all provide service assistance.
They all require wholesalers to provide the product they sell.
They all require satisfied customers for their continued success.
They differ in one important regard: 'Dealerships' will gladly repurchase the product you do not want and assist you in obtaining the product you do want.
I'm still waiting for Hudson's or Kmart to allow me to trade my old suits for new ones or my old shoes for new ones.
FRANK GALEANA JR.
Galeana Automotive Group
Fort Myers, Fla.
The Galeana group's seven outlets handle Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep, Pontiac, Saturn, Isuzu and Kia.
A GM dealer calls for help
Automotive consultant Richard Wells (Letters, July 12) is so far off base that he isn't even in the same ballpark.
Is he advocating that it is OK that a customer isn't able to purchase a Corvette from the dealer of his or her choice?
Survey a group of General Motors dealers about the woes of ordering product. It doesn't have to be a Corvette. It could be a full-sized, regular-cab truck, three-quarter ton, two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, half-ton extended cab, Impala, LeSabre, Tahoe, Suburban etc.
If 'turn and earn' were a correct statement, how does a dealer who hasn't sold a Tracker in more than a year receive four in allocation? He sells 15 new trucks in a month and earns one or two in return to replace what he sold?
Mr. Wells, how do you keep a staff motivated when a salesperson works his tail off to earn a sale, the order sits for months, and the customer goes to the competition (yes, Dodge and Ford also sell vehicles). Then the customer drives by to show you his new car.
GM won't wake up and make changes to accommodate the buying public - unless something changed and I missed it.
Help us out, GM! Our competitors market their products very well because they can say GM doesn't guarantee a sale.
General Sales Manager
Saturn market looks big for Opel
The new Saturn LS has a good chance to be the best-selling Opel in the United States since Opel's 1958 U.S. debut.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
John Chevedden is an automotive writer.
Another side of arbitration
I am writing about your May 31 article that reported on the National Automobile Dealers Association's efforts to have Congress pass a bill that would prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in franchise agreements. Prior attempts have failed. This one probably will also fail.
Arbitration and mediation are very prevalent in American business and will continue to proliferate.
Automotive dealer contracts are one-sided. A dealer must buy the manufacturer's product, purchase parts, perform warranty work and participate in factory-orchestrated advertising programs. Dealers knew that going in.
The manufacturer can modify those procedures, including the adoption of dispute-resolution processes. The manufacturer's only legal requirement is that its policies be fair, reasonable and not unconscionable. Also, case law is quite clear: Federal arbitration law has supremacy over state law.
NADA should work closely with all manufacturers to establish dispute-resolution policies that are palatable for all dealers. Nonbinding arbitration and, especially, mediation are very viable alternatives.
Dispute resolution offers the dealer an opportunity to participate fully in the process, which is not available in a court scenario. Legal management of cases is foreign to most dealers. It is time-consuming and very expensive, and it offers judges and juries a subconscious means to get even for past unhappy car experiences. Courts can be very dangerous places for dealers.
I am a former Time magazine dealer award winner. As an arbitrator and mediator, I wholeheartedly endorse most arbitrators/mediators as competent, conscientious and prudent decision makers.
SAMUEL HARRISON CHORCHES
Community wins with Williams
Your June 21 story and photographs of the anniversary celebration of Dodge-Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep of Vacaville were outstanding. I know of no other company anywhere that commemorates its anniversary by truly giving back to the community with no strings attached. As you noted, the dealership closes for the day to host the celebration. Laughing children and smiling adults enjoyed a free day of hot dogs and hamburgers, live music, games and dozens of raffle gifts.
Most dealers mark their anniversary with a special sale. Translation: Come down and spend more money with us simply because we've made it through another year of business.
Clarence Williams, on the other hand, closes his dealership for a day and spends thousands of dollars to entertain and thank the community that has supported his business.
Others in retailing can learn a lesson from Williams. Not only does he make a lot of people happy once a year, but he also creates a mountain of good will. You noted the tremendous growth of his dealership. The reason is clear. Not only does his business flourish because of his philanthropic nature, but the entire community wins as well. What a partnership!
Chairman, Chamber of Commerce