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Director's Message

 

Inside the Auto Industry
By Ray Knott #1, Director/Editor
ray@rivowners.org

Ray Knott

In my editorial last September, I floated an idea to have a series of articles on "Inside a Buick Dealership" as a follow-up to the GM Plant series that just concluded. My idea is not to just highlight a specific dealership, but to take an inside look at how dealerships function. I have received one response from a member and he may be able to provide some of the details I'm hoping to compile.

I want to cover every aspect of the business, starting with how to obtain a franchise from the Buick Division of GM authorizing the dealer to represent the manufacturer. Are there regulations regarding the building's appearance, staff, and advertising as there are with hotel and food franchises? What contractual agreements are required to purchase and deliver the new cars from Buick? If the dealership owns the car, what financial agreements do they have with Buick? Or are the new cars consigned to the dealership for a specific period? Do their wholesale prices improve if the dealership is a high-volume operation, or if it meets sales goals?

It would be interesting to know who at the dealership is responsible for ordering the cars and selecting models, colors and options. Does Buick determine how many of each model can be ordered or kept on hand? How much freedom does a salesman really have? We've all encountered a new car sales negotiation when the salesman says he must take the offer back to his manager. Does he really check with management or just disappear in a back room for a few moments, because he knows the price range he can offer?

Years ago, many buyers ordered their cars with specific options, while today it appears that most sales are with cars already on the lot. Granted, there may not be a wait of six weeks or more, but ordering your own may be the only way to get a car other than white, silver or black, with a gray interior. In past years, many owners ordered new cars without power windows, air conditioning, or even seat belts. Now, most options come bundled in "packages." Is it still popular for buyers to custom order to suit their needs?

What about dealer options? Many are factory approved and purchased from Buick, while others are aftermarket and can be installed by outside local suppliers. Are dealer-installed accessories and options of superior quality, are they a good value, and do they carry a warranty?

Then there are the Parts, Service and Used Car divisions which could also be covered in great detail. For example, does every mechanic attend GM-approved training? During repair work, are all parts sold and installed GM-approved or are some aftermarket? Is every used car run through a complete inspection? If so, are questionable cars reduced or sold through the local wholesale auctions?

I know that we have several former dealers and managers of new car dealerships among our members, as well as many former employees, who can share their thoughts. Those still active in the business may not feel free to address these questions, at least with their names attached. In any case, I hope to hear from you even if you can only address one of the topics mentioned. Or maybe you can prepare a fairly detailed overview. I welcome both. Please contact me first with your ideas and we'll work together.

In the future, we can expand this series with "inside" a body shop, paint shop, auto electrical, general mechanics, upholstery or parts store. Let's have fun!

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Notice: BUICK and RIVIERA are trademarks of GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION used with permission. The Riviera Owners Association is independent and not affiliated with GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION or its BUICK MOTORS DIVISION    —Copyright 2007 Riviera Owners Association—