Bill Lovejoy became General Motors' top sales and marketing executive in North America in February. The following are his edited comments on key issues affecting GM dealers.
In June, VOMS will begin capturing sold-order information from dealers for the first time. Using that information, GM can make better production decisions. Beginning in 2001, GM will try to make VOMS easier by packaging vehicle options together in menus instead of allowing dealers to pick options individually.
GM's falling market share
GM's market share would be higher in a 15 million-unit market than it is in an 18.6 million-unit market. We think we have good productivity numbers and that's what we're after. Even with the product GM has today, you can get the share. You just buy the market or dump it into fleets. But what does it do to your profitability?
Factory-direct sales over the Internet
While I'm here, we're not going to sell direct. GM's model has been to work with the dealers. The transaction goes through them.
GM's new partnership with Reynolds and Reynolds Co.
We did the deal with Reynolds and Reynolds to give us the ability to have a seamless way to integrate the Internet experience with a dealer's back end. We're not there. We're at ground zero. But we're with an organization now that we think can help us.
GM's efforts to reduce the number of GM dealerships
I don't think we have a race to get rid of dealers. Every time you lose a little dealer, it's pretty tough to pick up that market share. In fact, you usually don't get it. My sense is that next economic recession we have in the U.S. is going to do some rationalization of dealers.
Vice President Darwin Clark's new job as general manager, industry-dealer affairs
Clark will be the lead person with the National Automobile Dealers Association. The other thing we're trying to use his appointment as, is a way of making sure we pull together internally items going to the dealer. So that every Tom, Dick and Harry in the GM organization isn't out writing letters and making pronouncements to dealers.