Ford superdeals: Good idea, at last
To the Editor:
I read with interest your Feb. 5 article 'Ford wants superdeals.'
Ford now says it wants fewer dealers selling several of the company's brands - finally, something that makes sense from Ford's top management.
I have been either a Ford employee or a Ford dealer since 1966.
When I, an ex-factory guy, became a very successful dealer in rural New Jersey, I was rewarded by the appointment of another Ford dealership only three miles away.
'More (dealers) are better' has been the Ford market representation plan for years.
The only way I could expand was to represent foreign manufacturers. I expanded with Subaru, Isuzu, Hyundai, Suzuki, Volkswagen and Toyota. Those folks wanted you to have a decent territory and be profitable, too.
During the last several years, top Ford management has come out with a string of wacko ideas. Ford's whole thrust into the retail side was naive and ill-conceived.
Ford has traditionally looked with disdain on its dealer body. The factory guys were the smart guys. The dealers were the dumb, no-talent lot. And, boy oh boy, did it water them off when they saw the money we dealers were making.
If those dumb retail guys were that successful, what if we smart factory types took over the retailing, too?
They tried it, and they failed miserably. They didn't know what they didn't know.
The proposed superdealer plan is the only thing senior Ford management has done in several years that makes sense.
Wholesale is wholesale and retail is retail. It has worked for the last hundred years, and it will work for the next hundred.
Ford has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars trying to fix what ain't broke. It's good to see Ford management make some sense again.
Palm Coast, Fla.
The writer retired in 1997. He leases his former dealerships to UnitedAuto Group and Holman Enterprises.
No design shift? Shame on GM
To the Editor:
I recently watched a CNN program about J Mays, Ford's design chief, and I was impressed.
A week later, I read in Automotive News that Wayne Cherry of General Motors is going to retire in two years. Ron Zarrella, president of GM North America, said that design direction won't change when Cherry leaves. Is this the blind leading the blind?
In another Automotive News story, Cherry defended the Pontiac Aztek as a sleeper: 'As more and more people realize the functionality of the vehicle and its driveability, we're going to see some real interest.' And Zarrella said it's the pricing, not the design.
With statements and thinking like that, is it any wonder GM's market share is dropping?
When will it stop? When will GM shareholders say enough is enough? GM's profits have been great. Imagine what they would be if market share were where it should be.
Consumers don't buy functionality or driveability; they buy sex appeal, pizzazz and fresh new styles and designs. If the design is right, consumers will flock to it, and pricing will be a small factor in their decision to purchase.
It's pretty obvious that GM leadership lacks knowledge of what consumers want, or is it GM's typical position that GM knows more than the consumers, and they'll want this product. And if they don't, GM will pound it down the dealers' throats until they do?
DANA W. MILLER
Don't bash all dot-coms
To the Editor:
I found your treatment of dot-coms at the National Automobile Dealers Association show and in the Feb. 12 story 'Dot-comatose' mildly amusing and somewhat off the mark.
While I concur with some of the observations about the lack of traffic at yesteryear's dot-com headliners, at NADA, I take exception to the characterization of those of us who are heralding success in today's environment as too small to be newsworthy.
The fact is, some of us applying 21st century technology to the auto dealer market actually ran lemonade stands when we were five years old and learned a few business fundamentals. We provide tangible, recognized value to our dealer-customers who, in turn, are willing to pay hard, cold cash for our products.
And we organize our businesses so that revenues exceed expenses. If one traces the antecedents of today's successful, large companies, you'll almost invariably find a small, un-newsworthy enterprise at its beginning.
Given what we saw at NADA 2001, we have clearly entered the Third Wave of Internet technology.
It clearly is being incorporated into the successful dealership of the present and future.
While innovation never will stop, we have achieved a level of technological application development that can bring dealers handsome, instant rewards. Paybacks are in days, not years.
Dot-com bashing by the media has become rather passe.
Instead, I think it would be of much greater value to your readers to assess those who are prospering by showing dealers how to increase sales, service and profits through the application of the latest Internet tools.
Increasing numbers of dealers are voting with their checkbooks every day by investing in these Internet technology products. They are basing these decisions on their own needs rather than believing what they read about the imminent demise of dot-coms.
C. BRYCE BENJAMIN
Santa Monica, Calif.
Lincoln gives, adman declares
To the Editor:
As president of the company that coordinates the Lincoln Advertising Pre-Approval Center, I wish to respond to Freddi Silverman's Jan. 29 letter, 'Lincoln takes, but does it give?'
Let me assure Silverman and all Lincoln affiliates that, beyond the creation, refinement and support of the corporate brand, Lincoln is giving much.
In our view, Lincoln seeks not just to support its brand, which is an enormously valuable asset in its own right, but its dealers as well.
While it is true that the manufacturer limits the use of certain advertising terms that are thought to be inconsistent with the Lincoln image, Lincoln provides effective third-party advertising consultation for its dealers, as well as the superb branding effort and major national advertisements that Silverman suggests.
Thus, the manufacturer and dealers will achieve the harmony of voice that is imperative to the successful establishment of the new Lincoln brand in the marketplace.
National System Inc.
Maryland Heights, Mo.
National System is an advertising and marketing communication company.
Product is first, Dodge dealer says
To the Editor:
In your Feb. 5 editorial, you addressed Chrysler's problem in the next generation of leadership. It is my opinion that the leadership is in place.
Given the opportunity, Dieter Zetsche and his staff on this side of the pond will turn the company around.
What concerns me as a stand-alone Dodge dealer is future product, both cars and trucks.
We need assurances of innovative product in the pipeline. Without it, leadership won't matter.
HAROLD REESE JR.