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New Impala targeted beyond fleet customers
<p> <strong>New Impala targeted beyond fleet customers.</strong></p>

Chevy Dealers Adapting to New Branding

With nearly half of all Chevrolet shops adopting a standard motif, it helps customers recognize the dealerships more easily, managers say.

ORLANDO, FL – Chevrolet dealers are looking forward to 13 new or refreshed models arriving on showroom floors as well as finding cohesion with presenting a unified brand message to customers, managers say at the National Automobile Dealer Assn. conference here.

About 49% of Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. will have adopted a blue-and-white design motif encouraged by General Motors. While there has been resistance from some retailers, many say it makes their shops easily recognizable – like a McDonald’s or Starbucks.

“It continues to be a difficult situation for some, but I think the program’s moving along nicely. I think the new face of Chevrolet at the retail level is going to be good for all of us,” Mark Schlegel, general manager-Heritage Chevrolet in Tomahawk, WI, tells WardsAuto.

“It seems like relationships are improving all the time and the dealer body and Chevrolet are on the same page.”

Chris Perry, Chevrolet vice president-marketing, says the updated showrooms are designed to be “more modern, more inviting” and provide an improved customer experience. Employees even report feeling better about coming to work, he adds.

“Some of our smaller dealers sometimes have questions about (the) investment and the decision about how they want to approach it in the market, but for the most part they see the benefit,” Perry says.

One key refreshed product, the fullsize Impala, will receive an extra marketing push to generate showroom traffic. In 2012, 75% of the previous-generation Impala’s sales went to fleet customers. A campaign for the sedan kicks off this month as part of Chevrolet’s “Find New Roads” push.

Perry says dealers also are looking forward to the arrival of the Cruze Diesel. “It really represents the technology capabilities of Chevrolet. It’s going to bring a new buyer to the franchise.

“It’s going to be a small percentage of the Cruze’s overall sales, but that person is going to gravitate more toward diesel,” he adds, noting Chevrolet’s experience with an oil-burning Silverado pickup should allow a smooth transition for dealers selling the new compact.

Dealers here mostly are upbeat, but some raise concerns about incentives for top-performing shops and keeping up with industry trends.

“I hope that GM eventually gets into a bigger program of rewarding dealers for volume sales, kind of like Nissan does, Toyota does,” Yasser Ilkhan, sales manager-Ghent Chevrolet Cadillac in Fort Collins, CO, tells WardsAuto. “They do (to some degree), but with some of the manufacturers you can earn a lot of money with volume sales.”

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