Gray or white tile? Marble or balsa wood?
Just when you thought it was safe to stop talking about grout and tile, along comes ... more talk of grout and tile.
Suddenly a sloped roof in the Midwest must be flattened. White tile in Colorado needs to be gray. And a Chevrolet store that spent $1.8 million on improvements just 24 months ago is no longer "image appropriate."
If you think you've just been transported to February 2012, you're right.
Dealership renovations are hotter than the dealers who are steaming mad about them.
It's like when the National Automobile Dealers Association released its study of automakers' dealership-renovation mandates. In a packed Las Vegas conference room, study author Glenn Mercer didn't mince words: The mandates cost too much, produce uncertain results and matter little to shoppers.
A year later, Mercer said "the pain and suffering level has decreased."
Oh, that was so 2013.
Talk to dealers, consultants and industry insiders. The fever is back.
But this time the pain is at the small- and medium-sized dealer level.
"Up and down our client list, everyone is being required to build or renovate," Tim York, managing partner at DHG, said last week. York's group helps dealers navigate mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, risk, compliance, talent acquisition -- and lately, factory-mandated dealership renovations.
"Four or five out of 10 dealers we talk to are planning on it," York said, "or running from it."
Inconsistency bothers dealers the most -- changing requirements and constant improvements. Automakers say stores need to be modernized to improve customer experience and create an image mirroring other industries. Call it the Gap, Nordstrom or Apple experience.
But some entrepreneurs -- who got into the business because of the freedom to build their own business -- can't stomach the uniformity. They're dropping franchises, contemplating used-car stores or throwing in the towel on rules requiring that they have the right bathroom towels.
Here's reality: If small- and medium-sized dealers must finance the image improvements, even in good times the dealer world consolidation will continue.
Throw regulation and stair-step incentives into the mix and blood really starts boiling.
Big groups will do what's needed. Smaller points will suffer.
And no one will care if the toilet paper is the right color, except the folks who have been flushed away.