New fuel for an old fire
I have noticed references to the 'end of the millennium' in recent issues, and since things automotive usually have a sound engineering basis, I thought I would try to set the record straight.
Dec. 31, 1999, was not the end of the millennium. That will occur Dec. 31, 2000. That is because there is no year 0. The first year of the first millennium was the year 1; the first year of second millennium was the year 1001; the year 2000 is the last year of that millennium, not the start of the next.
Imagine a child's age. He is said to be one year old when he reaches his first birthday and 10 years old when he reaches his 10th birthday. His age measurement started at zero.
An odometer is an easier analogy. When you reach 1,000, you have 1,000 miles. The odometer starts with zero. If it started with 1, you would have to reach 1,001 to have 1,000 miles.
Of course, there is the common hype of rolling over to all zeros on Jan. 1, 2000, just as we would celebrate our odometer rollover to 100,000 miles. But when the odometer rolls over to all those zeros, we actually have driven 100,000 miles. Remember, the odometer starts with zero.
ROBERT C. RASSA
Granada, Hills, Calif.
The writer is a director of Raytheon Electric.
Dealer praises Grimaldi work
The General Motors make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention was indeed a breath of fresh air. Jack Smith's presence, along with his forceful delivery, was exactly what we dealers needed.
Putting GM Retail Holdings to bed was extremely important, but his apologetic tone and his assurance that things like this will never happen again were icing on the cake. It's hard to keep beating on someone, even a corporation, when the person admits he was wrong and promises never to do it again.
Combined with Ron Zarrella's long-sought statement that all retail Internet sales will be through dealers, one would have to believe that GM is really serious about repairing dealer relations.
As an owner of three dealerships, I have been an outspoken critic of GM's past actions regarding those two issues. However, I must admit that if GM continues in this vein, it might soon be politically correct to start liking GM again.
Granted, there still are a number of open issues, but few of them can have the potentially devastating effects on dealers that GMRH and the Internet could have posed.
Hopefully, those other issues now can be worked out in a much friendlier atmosphere, and GM dealers can concentrate on selling incremental cars and trucks instead of looking over their shoulders constantly to see what their partner is doing to them.
I give Michael Grimaldi a lot of the credit for this turnaround. He has worked steadfastly with the dealers to get to the root of the problems and to repair the damage caused by previous actions.
He has been a major player in GM's coming to us hat in hand, and I hope my fellow dealers join me in supporting him and the rest of the executive staff in their greatly timed effort to move forward together. They are to be respected for such a humble and sincere effort to make amends. I salute them.
GORDON L. STEWART
Group Inc. (Chevrolet)
Garden City, Mich.
Marketing tips for dealers
Some things amaze me. I've spent 20 years doing advertising and public relations for auto dealers, as well as for banks and other major corporations. What amazes me is that while many of the dealers are so much brighter than some of the CEOs of major corporations, they treat 'marketing' as something their wives do at the supermarket.
The loudness of the commercial doesn't sell cars. The number of times the word 'deal' is used in a full-page newspaper ad doesn't sell cars. Hiring the agency that gives you the best rebate on its commission doesn't sell cars.
What does sell cars is knowing what your market wants and how your customers want to buy it; creating a brand identity for yourself; challenging your agency to be creative and paying for that creativity; promoting the heck out of your dealership and location; practicing relationship marketing and using public relations or strategic marketing tools.
BN Group Inc.