Mediation plan is a winner for GM
General Motors' cloning of Cadillac's Dispute Resolution Process for inclusion in its new 2000 dealer agreement proves that GM, occasionally at least, does absolutely the right thing.
Instituted with the 1990 dealer agreement, the Cadillac program handled all but one case without the need for litigation. In fact, the most common outcome of a mediation was a strengthening of the relationship and respect between the dealer and the factory.
Everyone in this industry could certainly use more of that!
Having now seen this program from both sides of the fence, I would urge anyone with concerns to talk with Cadillac dealers who have gone through the process -either as complainants or mediators. The mediation process can continue to provide a timely, inexpensive and businesslike forum to resolve differences. Well done, GM!
I changed careers in January 1999 after more than 30 years with Cadillac. My last position there was assistant director of dealer development.
MacLeod Consulting Group LLC
Maker action vs. dealer inaction
Dealers upset with Ford's concierge services are pointing the finger in the wrong direction. While the services offered may encroach on a dealer's responsibilities, the simple fact is that most dealers have ignored this vital part of their business.
It seems it is far easier to decry a lack of traffic and lobby for a higher incentive than to actively manage customer relationships. Ford's concierge services demonstrate a willingness to experiment and take a longer-term view. Dealers have demonstrated little stomach for either.
Manufacturers that dabble in retail activities do so in the spirit of self-preservation. When dealers look for ways to add value, the manufacturers must either fill the void themselves or risk a third party doing the job. The result of inaction is that both manufacturers and dealers lose.
If dealers don't want manufacturers to get closer to retail, they should step up to the plate and do the job themselves.
JEREMY P. ANWYL
Santa Ana, Calif.
Marketec is a consulting firm
Hyundai passes the franchise test
Your Aug. 2 editorial prompted this letter. The opinion expressed about Hyundai in the last paragraph concerns me.
When I became an imported-car dealer in 1956, I was most fortunate to meet Art Huber, a wonderful individual and a great car man. Art gave me some very good advice on how to evaluate a franchise. I think it still has great value, and I would like to share it with you.
When evaluating a car franchise, answer the following questions:
How good is the product?
How well does the manufacturer stand behind its product?
What kind of relationship does the manufacturer have with its dealers?
How do the manufacturer's policies affect the dealers?
Is the dealer's area of responsibility fair and reasonable?
Does the manufacturer advertise and promote the product in a professional manner?
Does the manufacturer back the product with a good warranty, and will the maker stand behind it?
Is it the right product for the marketplace?
If the answers are favorable, the product should have a good future in this marketplace. Through my almost 50 years as both an import and domestic dealer, I have tried to evaluate a franchise based on that advice. Certainly, Hyundai passes the 'Huber formula.'
Hyundai is a good company. It makes a good product; it goes the extra step to satisfy the dealer and the customer. To me, the integrity of the staff is most important. I find Hyundai passes that successfully.
I have had differences with Hyundai. But in the five years I have been a Hyundai dealer, I have found that it is a first-rate company with a first-rate product. My customers love their Hyundais, and I find it pleasure to do business with the company.
Nemet Auto Group (ChevroletHyundai-Nissan-Volvo)
Mullane should try another job
Regarding Edwin Mullane's July 26 letter: If he's so unhappy being a Ford dealer, why doesn't he sell his dealership and do something else for a living?
As a longtime reader of Automotive News, I am well acquainted with Mullane's grievances against Ford Motor Co. He has made his feelings quite clear in numerous multipage advertisements in your publication.
I freely admit that I am less than comfortable with the idea of factory-owned dealerships.
On the other hand, if a letter from a guy with a well-documented chip on his shoulder is the only one you could come up with in support of Keith Crain's June 28 column, maybe Ford's idea is not so bad after all.
MAURICE E. TAYLOR
The writer is a loan officer.
Duplication: A GM bugaboo
I find it hard to believe that General Motors continues to market so many duplicated products under the guise of 'divisional brands.'
Case in point: Several months ago, there was a GM ad insert in Automotive News. Flipping through it, I saw a Chevy Blazer, an Olds Bravada, a GMC Jimmy and a GMC Envoy. I also saw a Tahoe, a Yukon, a Denali and an Escalade. 'Do one thing and do it right,' says GMC. Seems at GM it's 'Make one vehicle and sell it under four nameplates.'
I suppose the gullibility of the car-buying public still supports what must be the massive overhead associated with such duplication.
Then again, it's apparently not only the car-buying public that perceives those vehicles as being different.
A recently publicized insurance industry crash test rated the Chevy Blazer, Olds Bravada and GMC Jimmy as 'poor.' Couldn't they have saved a few bucks and just crashed the Chevy?
MICHAEL C. LERRO
The writer is a tax supervisor for an automotive supplier.