Not at a Loss for Words

This is my annual chance to say this and that and whatever else is on my mind. I call it Thoughts while shaving. Ouch! Where did all the money for 0% financing come from? Do automobile manufacturers make that much money on new vehicles? I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth as dealers really profited from these incentive campaigns. But what happens in normal times? As a long-term Chevy dealer

This is my annual chance to say this and that and whatever else is on my mind. I call it “Thoughts while shaving.” Ouch!…

…Where did all the money for 0% financing come from? Do automobile manufacturers make that much money on new vehicles?

…I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth as dealers really profited from these incentive campaigns. But what happens in normal times?

…As a long-term Chevy dealer who was tee'd off when Saturn was created by Roger Smith “exclusively to compete against Japanese compacts,” I find my concerns were justified as Saturn has simply become another GM nameplate!

Jill Lajdziak, Saturn's sales and marketing vice president, says the GM subsidiary is looking to expand the number of dealers from 433 to 750 by 2012. Saturn is contemplating larger cars in the near future, all of which makes Roger Smith's creation an exercise in B.S. and simply a ruse to create a needless new division which hasn't made a dime since its inception.

…Employee compensation in the new-vehicle industry ranks among the highest in the U.S. So why can't franchised dealers attract higher quality sales personnel?

…In a room full of automobile people, why is it so easy to distinguish wholesale people from retail?

…How do automobile manufacturers establish the prices of new models and what criteria do they use in figuring these suggested list prices?

…As I shaved the lather from my craggy face I realized I was about to observe my 81st birthday. Except for some minor plumbing problems and some skin damage from the sun I was in fairly good shape.

…After a half century of commenting on the state of the industry, I am encouraged with the excellent reports from dealers and their employees.

…It appears the combative attitude between dealers and manufacturers has lessened. It's almost to the point of realizing that dealers actually liked and respected their respective manufacturers.

…I recently talked to Steve Pitt, the staff guy who is directly responsible for NADA's outstanding conventions, and remembering when he took over the reins from Leroy Smith in 1977. Many people don't realize Steve's talent and commitment in putting together this quality meeting and exposition.

…Saw Mrs. Frank McCarthy receiving an award for her late husband and I was overcome with deep sadness over the tragedy of Frank's untimely illness and death. It doesn't seem fair after 33 years serving the needs of so many as president of NADA that he should be denied the golden years with his family and many friends.

…I'm starting my 23rd year as a columnist with this magazine. I've watched it become one of the premier publications of the industry.

…You know you're getting old when “happy hour” is a nap and your address book has names mostly starting with doctor.

…New vehicles carry the longest and most comprehensive warranties in the world. Also, more consumer protection and regulations have been enacted in the past half century for automobile buyers than any other U.S. industry. Why then is their reputation still suspect?

…Finally, it's a pleasure to work with Ward's Dealer Business Editor Steve Finlay. Years ago, Steve's father, Bob Finlay, as editor of Automotive News, wrote a weekly dealer-oriented column. Not a week went by that I missed that column. Fortunately, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Steve shares his dad's interest and approach to dealer issues. I'm proud to be associated with him.

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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