You took away, now give something back. That was the message Dodge dealers sent to DaimlerChrysler at a packed make meeting at the NADA convention.
As part of its cost-cutting efforts, DaimlerChrysler has eliminated certain payments to dealers and will pay bonuses only to those who meet sales quotas it has set. Dealers received their quotas Friday, Feb. 2.
After spending the first 15 minutes of the hour-and-a-half meeting venting about the takeaways and discussing how DaimlerChrysler got into its financial fix, dealers asked DaimlerChrysler executives, who were invited in for the rest of the meeting, to set realistic and attainable sales targets for dealers.
'That's absolutely critical,' said Dick Withnell, owner of Withnell Dodge in Salem, Ore., and president of Dodge's national dealer council. If dealers perceive their targets as unattainable, he said, 'They'll hunker down and not play the game.'
If they don't play the game, they won't order vehicles, which will put the company in an even worse position, he said.
Some dealers at the meeting protested that their sales targets were too high. 'The targets were set based on a dealer's sales in the last six months,' Withnell said. 'So if you were a good dealer and had good legs - that is, you had a good July, August, September and October and didn't experience softness in your sales until November and December - you are penalized somewhat by higher targets.'
Dealers also want DaimlerChrysler to analyze the costs they charge to dealers and eliminate or lower some of them as a way to give something back for the takeaways. 'They've taken away, now we have to look at the givebacks,' Withnell said. 'We want them to analyze everything from A to Z. They are charging us a laundry list of fees, and we want to see what the factory can do to help us cut our costs.'
As they filed out of their meeting, many dealers looked grim and refused to comment.
'It is what it is,' one dealer, who asked not to be named, said of the DaimlerChrysler changes. 'It is out of our control. We just have to accept it and go on.'