Even as General Motors shrinks its U.S. retail network to adjust to its falling market share, the company is advertising for new dealers. In a change of approach, GM is recruiting dealers — particularly minorities and women — who have prospered with other automakers' franchises.
Traditionally, GM has identified, developed and financed its own dealers, especially minorities. By contrast, import-brand car companies have strengthened their U.S. retail ranks by enlisting dealers who had succeeded with other brands, notably Detroit 3 franchises.
GM executives decline to say how many dealers they are interested in signing up or to suggest a timetable. They say they aren't emphasizing particular brands or markets. Any financial incentives to recruit dealers will be case by case, the executives say.
Some GM minority dealers complain that the new strategy ignores their needs when many of them are struggling to stay in business.
This week, GM will host a dealer recruitment event in suburban Chicago. Current GM dealers aren't invited.
"While you have a good team, you continue to look for super businesspeople, especially when they are diverse," says Dawin Wright, GM's director of North American dealer development.
GM particularly is looking for minority and female dealers who can buy and run large dealerships in metropolitan areas, says Wright, who heads GM's minority dealer development program and Women's Retail Initiative.
Wright says GM will provide financial aid to dealers it recruits "based on what the potential candidate brings with him or her."