SAN FRANCISCO -- Buick-GMC dealers need to overhaul stores and sharpen customer service to continue luring buyers from premium brands, dealers were told at the make meeting.
Brand leaders, who are positioning Buick as a luxury marque, bragged that Buick's sales in January topped Lexus' total for the first time in many years, said people who attended. Buick sold 13,269 cars and trucks, up 32 percent, while Lexus sold 12,860, down 17 percent.
John Schwegman, vice president of marketing for GMC, said, "We've got pretty good momentum from last year."
He added, "The message we delivered to the dealers is, 'We need to build on delivering a great customer experience.'"
Lynn Thompson, a Springfield, Mo., dealer who sells Buick, GMC and Cadillac, said brand executives are pressing dealers to keep the momentum going by offering sales and service touches that premium buyers expect.
"They're really pushing dealers to recognize that the customer touch part of this is so big," he said.
A dealer's question about the timing of the next-generation GMC Sierra pickup was gently rebuffed by factory officials, said people who attended. GM delayed development of its full-sized trucks during its near-death experience in 2009 and hasn't publicly discussed the program.
But GMC leaders gave an unusually detailed overview of the brand's latest concept vehicle: the Sierra All Terrain Heavy Duty concept shown at the Detroit auto show last month. Several dealers said they took it as a sign that GM is serious about a production model, which would compete with Ford's F-150 SVT Raptor and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon.