General Motors is dangling incentives this year to entice Buick-GMC dealers to operate loaner fleets for service customers and to run business development centers as a way of drumming up more sales.
Henry Brown, chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council, said both elements were added to Buick-GMC's Standards for Excellence program. Quarterly payouts under the program range from around $10,000 for a small dealership to more than $150,000 for big stores.
Brown estimates that roughly half of the nation's Buick-GMC dealerships participate in GM's Courtesy Transportation Program. Last year, GM sweetened the financial incentives for dealers to put more cars into their loaner fleets as a way to improve customer service and get more potential buyers behind the wheels of the newest models.
Dealers must maintain a minimum number of vehicles in their courtesy fleets to meet certain SFE requirements, Brown said. The threshold varies by dealership size.
Since 2012, GM has been urging dealers to establish or expand business development centers -- offices that are in charge of following up on phone and Internet leads and setting test-drive or service appointments. Standards for Excellence requirements for 2014 included BDC training for dealers and staff.
For 2015, dealers who get high ratings on a third-party assessment of their BDC operation will qualify for Standards bonuses even if they don't post a sales gain for the quarter, which traditionally has been the most heavily weighed factor in qualifying for the bonus, Brown said.
GM executives have "done a good job of helping the dealers understand the importance of having a sales process," said Brown, owner of Henry Brown Buick-GMC in Gilbert, Ariz. "The days of waiting for customers to show up in your showroom are long gone."
GM North America President Alan Batey told Automotive News in November that dealers who don't operate BDCs will be left behind.
"For us, the BDC is not for dealers to create more leads, but to do a better job with the leads they have, and turn them into appointments," Batey said. "We'll be helping the dealers by incentivizing and rewarding them based on the processes they've put in place."