A lot has been said about the need for equality of sacrifice at General Motors as part of its North American restructuring.
Jerry York preached it in a speech to the Society of Automotive Analysts in January.
CEO Rick Wagoner and company showed that they get it. The salary cuts, dividend reduction, and changes to health care benefits and pensions are steps in the right direction.
Last year, the UAW agreed to trim health care benefits for GM retirees, and you can bet the union will be asked for more concessions during the next round of contract talks, which start next year.
So you might ask: "Just what are dealers doing for the cause?"
If pain and suffering count, dealers will tell you they've already given plenty.
Last summer's Employee Discount for Everyone incentive program, which eliminated a glut of unsold 2005 GM vehicles, also choked off dealer profits.
Then came the Total Value Promise pricing program, which reduced sticker prices on 80 percent of the automaker's 2006 models by an average of $1,300. But it trimmed wholesale prices by less than that, meaning dealers had less wiggle room when negotiating with buyers and less opportunity for profit.
Forfeiting profits for the greater good is one thing, but the biggest sacrifice may have been when GM eliminated the trip for dealers in the annual "Mark of Excellence" program, which recognizes excellence in customer relations.
This year's trip was canceled for budgetary reasons, although GM kept the recognition awards for sales personnel, sales managers, technicians and service managers.
It's not like most dealers can't afford to take themselves to nice places. Many travel all over the globe.
And last year's dealer trips were split between Naples, Fla., and Palm Springs, Calif., which are nice places, but nothing out of the ordinary.
So what's the big deal?
Like everybody else -- maybe even more than most folks -- dealers like winning. They especially like being recognized as winners.
It may not seem like much in the big scheme of things, but it is nice to be pampered and know you're loved, isn't it?
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]