DETROIT - General Motors expects to grant its first franchises to dealer candidates in its Women's Retail Initiatives program this year.
Pat Roberts, director of the program, said the company has nine women on its list of candidates who are ready to be GM dealers when stores become available. She said nine more are in training and three others are scheduled to begin the one-year program this year.
She said there are opportunities for new dealers, but the situation is complicated because GM simultaneously is parceling out dealership opportunities to women, minority candidates and Oldsmobile dealers who are losing their franchises - all while GM realigns its retail network. Of GM's 7,761 dealerships, 208 are owned by women.
Roberts said GM is working with its regional staffs to find dealerships for women and minority candidates. She said GM takes many things into consideration when matching dealer candidates with dealerships, including a candidate's location preference and experience. All candidates must have at least $125,000 in unencumbered capital to qualify for the program, she said. "But what the person brings in (additional) unencumbered funds (helps) determine the size of the opportunity," Roberts added.
The women's initiative was patterned after GM's minority dealer program. Minority and female candidates selected by GM must go through a leadership assessment exercise to measure their business and people skills. Qualified candidates with dealership management experience are placed on GM's ready-now list; qualified candidates who lack dealership management experience are sent to the NADA academy.
GM invests with candidates and allows them to buy out GM's interest over time.