Switching rate called too low
In the Information Technology section in your Nov. 8 issue, you reported, using Electronic Data Systems as a source, that only 20 percent of auto retailers make a purchase decision in a year and that only 3 percent to 6 percent decide to switch computer vendors. The 20 percent figure is essentially correct. The switching rate is fundamentally low.
If you do some simple math, 20 percent of 22,000 dealers (4,400) make a decision, and only 3 percent to 6 percent switch, 132 to 264 retailers would switch.
In fiscal 1999, we converted more retailers than that from our nearest competitor to our systems. Our number is even higher when other competitors are included. Conversion rates to Reynolds remain far higher than the reported switching rate.
You quoted EDS's Matt Parsons as saying, 'They (retailers) don't see enough differentiation between vendors.' Nothing could be further from the truth.
Auto retailers understand that their business requires high-performance retail management systems that not only perform business management functions, but have e-business and customer relationship management capabilities to enable them to succeed.
Information technology is an important dimension of the changing face of automotive retailing. Retailers are indeed switching - to systems that drive improved business results.
ROBERT C. NEVIN
President, Automotive Group
Reynolds and Reynolds Co.
GMRH is a fiasco; don't blame Clark
I am writing on behalf of Darwin Clark, a dedicated General Motors man of the highest quality. He once was my zone manager in Boston. I have watched him climb the ladder in the GM organization as an honest and industrious car man.
As vice president of European operations and in many other positions, he has always performed in a manner that enhanced the name and business of GM. My fellow dealers in the New England area share my opinion of Clark.
Presently, Clark is head of the new General Motors Retail Holdings which, at its best, is an ill-conceived and poorly structured GM 'concept.'
As a good company man, he took the job of point man for that project, believing that GM would develop and fine-tune GMRH so that it would be workable and would accomplish all the many and important things that Group Vice President Roy Roberts addressed in his Oct. 7 satellite broadcast.
Unfortunately for all of us, and especially for Clark, GM - which cannot seem to stop stepping on its own toes and is continually involved with fiascoes of its own making - has left Clark out there to twist in the wind.
Instead of taking full responsibility for the stupidity of the GMRH program and absolving Clark of any responsibility for the design and proposed implementation of the plan, GM simply admits it is not going ahead with the plan and leaves Clark to take the full brunt of the criticism and increased distrust that the aborted GMRH plan has spawned. What a sad legacy, since it is the antithesis of what Clark has stood for all his life!
Perhaps that is the fate of all good men. Clark takes the heat as part of his job, graciously, while his superiors take cover.
PETER J. SGARZI
Sgarzi Pontiac-Buick Inc.
Bring back fwd, Audi fan urges
I have two questions for Len Hunt, vice president of Audi of America, who wants to get more front-drive Audis to dealers in Florida, Texas and California.
First, how does he plan to do that at the luxury (V-8) level when he (Audi) removes front-drive from the U.S. lineup? Specifically, the front-drive A8 is gone for 2000.
Second, shouldn't an A6 3.7 front-drive be offered?
ROBINSON LEECH JR.
Robinson Leech Real Estate