Dealers have a lot on their minds as they prepare for their make meetings Sunday and Monday. Among the issues: dealership facility requirements, advertising strategies, North American production plans and, of course, new products.
In the weeks leading up to the convention, Automotive News spoke with 27 dealer leaders representing 30 brands. The series of interviews begins today on Page 6 and continues in the Sunday and Monday editions of the NADA Daily.
Here's some of what the dealers told us:
n General Motors' decision to extend a program that helps dealers pay to renovate their stores is persuading more Chevrolet dealers to break ground.
"A lot of people who were on the fence have decided they needed to move forward," said Steve Hurley of Stingray Chevrolet in Plant City, Fla.
n Audi dealers want the brand to move some production to North America to speed delivery and shield against fluctuating exchange rates.
"When you're building them in Europe, and shipping them here, there is a lag time," said Jack Hanania, an Audi dealer in Jacksonville, Fla. With cars built in North America, Audi dealers will be on "the same playing field with other luxury nameplates," he said.
n In a year when Lexus inventories were hurt by the Japan earthquake, losing some customers to rivals was to be expected. But Peter Hennessy, an Atlanta dealer, predicts new products and improved availability will win back those customers and attract new ones.
"I am sure we had some defectors," he said. "Availability is going to be far better this year. We have new product coming. I think we'll be attracting a new customer."
n Infiniti dealers will launch a regional advertising network that will give retailers more dollars to spend on local media.
The brand's national dealer advisory board is working out details on how much retailers will contribute and how much the factory will pay in matching funds. But David Rosenberg, the advisory board's chairman, said the group believes the network can be running nationwide in about 60 days.
Rosenberg said: "This will be a real boon to us. It means extra money that we'll be able to spend in our markets to create a better voice and more consideration." c