LAS VEGAS -- The success of General Motors and its dealers depends on them working together, GM CEO Mary Barra told dealers Monday. So GM is focused on getting dealers, large and small, ready for the future.
"It's very important as we work at putting the customer at the center that we partner with our dealers because you're the person [who] has that relationship with that customer every day," Barra told dealers at her first NADA Show. "Customers are also increasing their expectations of what brands mean and what service means. So as we partner together, I know we can navigate the landscape in front of us and come out in a leadership position."
GM's sales are strong in rural and suburban areas largely because of the dealers there, said Barra. Brian Sweeney, who previously led Chevrolet, took on the newly created role of vice president of dealer operations and innovation in November. He will lead retail innovation and work with Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealers to improve customer experience, dealership profitability and the automaker's relationship with its dealer network.
Sweeney is "now focused on making sure we get ahead of … how the business will transform to changing customer preferences to make sure we're ready," said Barra.
Among his priorities will be improving customer service and helping dealers prepare for auto retail's evolution, with specific solutions for dealers in rural and suburban areas, Barra said.
"You can see [transformation] as a threat, or you can see it as opportunity," Barra said. "We have a huge opportunity to transform the way people move and the way mobility happens, but to do it together."