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InvictaMan

Buick Dealerships...

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How is everyone feeling about their local BPG dealership? Mine is in Hickory, North Carolina. The old stand-alone BPG was sold to the local Chevrolet dealership and man, has it gone down hill, especially on customer service. I've been working with one of their sales reps, the "Corvette Specialist," and he runs hot and cold. No real personal attention, no feeling of being somewhere special like the old Buick dealerships. I sent him my desired Enclave almost a month ago, "so that I can get it in the pipeline and get it for you early," and I haven't heard a word from him since. Earlier, I made an appointment with him to test drive an Acadia, and when I showed up, he was gone. Some kid had to take me out and I knew "way" more than he did about the Lambdas. I even knew more than "The Specialist" about the cars.

If I'm going to lay down anywhere near $43,000 for a Buick CUV, I expect better service and a nicer dealership. I know this has been hashed before, but IMHO, Buick should have been paired with Caddy. Especially if they are going to go after the Lexus' and the Acuras and the Lincolns. You can make all the great design strides you want, but the sale of a near-luxury car, at a near-luxury price deserves the total upscale package. These two brands are much more compatible in a marketing sense, and if Buick is going to be short-changed on models, the competition is even more minimized. I think they would perfectly complement themselves and the money spent on revamping Caddy could do double duty when it comes to bringing new shoppers into the dealership to look at Buicks. They are trying to save the brand... aren't they? I'm in marketing, so I guess I have a more jaded opinion about what GM is doing with dealership consolidation.

Edited by InvictaMan
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I can understand where you're coming from. Several of the Buick dealers in southern NJ were already paired up with Pontiac/GMC dealerships since the mid-'90s, but there were a few that were still stand alones. One in particular was Eickenhoff Buick in Cherry Hill, NJ. They recently sold the franchise to a Pontiac/GMC dealership - in particular, the one I leased my Envoy from. The upscale image that Eickenhoff had is now gone, replaced by the cheesy sales staff at this Pontic/GMC dealership. I will not go back there when my lease is up, as the Service Dept isn;t the greatest (I should say that you don't get treated well by them) and the sales staff only cares when you're in there to buy. I can see those long-time Buick customers will feel that special treatment is going away.

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Perhaps it will just take time. The P-B-GMC thing has always been a reality up here in the hinterland. I think a lot of GM stores that were used to being hugely profitable are now selling 1/4 what they used to and are making a lot of cut backs. I know this to be true in the Toronto area where stores barely sell in a month what they used to sell in a weekend!

For example, we went without a shop foreman for a while and our service crashed. Everybody you meet in the dealership is on some form of commission, except maybe the receptionist (and they are now making minimum wage!) From the service advisor to the technician working on your vehicle, they are no longer "on the clock," so to speak. The pressure to "show me the money" is enormous. Remember when you used to be able to get a lightbulb changed for free if you bought it in the parts department? Good luck with that now. They certainly won't open a work order for $1, and what customer would pay $20 to have a bulb put in, so everyone is just "too busy" to deal with you when you arrive.

Now that we have a shop foreman again (who is paid salary, so he is there to help everyone, including the customer) our satisfaction numbers have soared. Trouble, is, these guys don't come cheap if they are good.

As to the Corvette guy: I hate to say this, but most guys who walk in chirping about Corvettes are dreamers and blow bags. Corvette sales in Canada have absolutely crashed. Everybody here would rather drive a Lexus convertible, not to mention how over priced the Corvettes are here. We have a $102,000 Z06 - any takers?

Guys who used to sell 20 units a month are selling 12 and making "minimums" on each deal, so although I understand where you are coming from, you have to understand where we are coming from. I recently spent prehaps 20 hours over a period of six months with a previous customer who vacationed in Arizona while her Alero lease expired. From the long distance calls, to the faxes to GMAC and her vacation home, I did a lot of work for her. How did I get rewarded? I don't know, since she returned to Canada, she won't return my calls. The last I heard (two weeks ago) her 50 year old son wanted her to buy a Honda and she was shopping the Pontiac dealer in her town. I offered her a $50 gas card to come and see me, but no deal. I don't know what she is driving now; I am afraid of what I might say should I call her.

So, some of us are trying, but it is a blood bath. The smart guys are the ones who can cut to the chase and see if the "buyer" is serious, then move on quickly. Chances are, if you aren't buying today, you will get stuck with a junior guy who is too green and too naive to separate the tire kickers from the serious buyers.

I have long believed the entire dealer-manufacturer arrangements is a farce. I don't think salespeople should be commissioned. I think they should be salaried and trained to death. However, that is merely my opinion. There is no point in spending 3 hours with someone who will walk up the street and buy the car there because it is $100 cheaper. The manufacturers like it this way, because they can shrug and blame the dealers for everything. The price should be the price, but haggling is built in. The dealer loses, the customer loses and the manufacturer can stand back and look good.

Another point about "older" dealers is that the true ownership of that dealer built up the dealership in a time when owning a GM dealership was a license to print money. NOw, the second generation is running a lot of those dealerships and times are tougher than they have ever been. I have heard the old timers say "oh, back in '91." Bull$h!. Back in '91, there was no internet, there was no invoice pricing on the web and there was no Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, Mitsubishi, ad nauseum. Customers were more honest back then and salespeople took more pride in their jobs.

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B-P-GMC dealerships have a real opportunity to become premium in every way. I'm not talking about ridiculous bull$h! Lexus pulls like massages for your dogs, but a real modern upscale feel while still remaining personable and unstuffy.

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Thanks for the input folks. I really want to leave Honda and go back to Buick (something that I would have not imagined after 25 years of Hondas), but when the sales staff and dealership is as I outlined above, how am I to feel comfortable about making the change. I have enough issues with Honda. My Pilot purchase was a nightmare, and the dealership is a farce riddled with management, customer support and service problems. Honda is more worried about covering up their fallacies than supporting me as a loyal customer. My thoughts were... maybe I need to support American car makers. It will help my country, I can help save the Buick brand from demise and it couldn't be worse than what Honda has turned into over the past 4-5 years. This is Buick's (and GM's) shining moment; an advantage to get in there, impress potential buyers who are looking to go upscale from their Asian utilities and grab some sales from disgruntled Honda and Toyota buyers. If Buick would market their products with the same pride in heritage as they are in China, and provide models that relect that pride, they could do quite well I think. But they have to keep in perspective their target market... which has little in common with Pontiac, Chevy and GMC, other than some shared underpinnings and parts. The new generation of potential Buick buyers are internet savvy, upscale, admire the modern style and technology of the Lexus' and Acuras that Buick could do so well, and they can really appreciate the lineage and heritage of the Buick Motor Division. Learn a lesson from China and apply it with some good old American patriotism.

Buick is making strides, they just need to get this dealership thing worked out, or they are going to scare off a strong percentage of potential buyers. When I contacted the Acura dealer about comparing pricing and deals with them vs. the Enclave, they jumped all over it. Their dealership reflects a premium car (my dog can do without the massage, but hey, I'll take one). They are professional, established and I get the feeling that they really expect to be there in a few years when I come back to trade again. Buick deserves the same atmosphere and positioning as this, and Caddy. Otherwise, Acura is willing to match me up in an MDX for some change more than what I am seeing as Enclave pricing on the Buick web site. Car and Driver (as well as other respected automotive pubs) support their product as a good investment, and that carries a lot of weight when considering purchasing. I think Buick gets far more criticism than they deserve, I just want to see them get up and spank the competition. It's all about how you represent your company and product. You only get one first impression.

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Very good points and very glad you're considering a Buick. Obviously, something is working out right for Buick in this case.

I've always envisioned the ideal B-P-GMC dealership blending contemporary 'premium' design with lots of emphasis on their heritage, a selling point much of the competition (Acura, Lexus) simply does not have. Use retro-modern American architecture and displays to recapture the passion of buying an automobile. Many will argue and say that all customers are not enthusiasts like you or I may be. Well, why not make them enthusiasts? Display a vintage car or two, use technology and home-like furnishings to create a warm, comfortable, but non-uptight environment. Infiniti has their 'thinking room' or whatever; have a big living room. Encourage dealerships to sponsor vintage car shows of GM marques on their premesis. Also encourage them to build a positive relationship in the community so owning a Buick, Pontiac, or GMC will have privilages beyond the car itself. Things like that.

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Very good points and very glad you're considering a Buick. Obviously, something is working out right for Buick in this case.

It was the Enclave, and the other Lambdas that did it. They have taken the formula for my Pilot and matched or improved upon in in every way — in design and style, and especially interior. I'm tired of driving a utilitarian box, and have you watched the evolution of the Pilot.... uhhhhglyyy!. I'm impressed with the new MDX. Took a while to get used to the nose, but hey, I respect them for breaking the mold. I would simply like the opportunity to buy American. And I can't see another American car out there that surpasses the Enclave. I just have issues with the direction GM is taking with the brand, I'm worried about paying too much for a vehicle that will never match the resale value of my Honda and I expect the same quality of dealership as the reputation of the brand reflects. I'm in my later 40s and have traded up to the point where I am ready for a little luxury and style. Buick excelled at this in their hay day, they just lost their direction with poor execution until the LG Park Avenue, and more recently the Lucerne and the Enclave. Quite frankly, I don't blame Buick for this so much as I do the brass at GM.

The fact that my sales person has yet to contact me for nearly a month, since I sent my desired Enclave order, is not good. And I have contacted Buick several times for literature over the last two months (since it was first offered on the Enclave web site) and they keep saying it will be to me in a couple of weeks. Not seen a thing in the mail, not even a teaser yet. This is poor marketing — to make promises that you can't or won't deliver.

I'm remaining hopeful for the model and the brand, but the disappointment has leaned me toward holding off and waiting to see how things go with the introduction, instead of buying now. It is definitely going to take a joint effort of everyone that is in the Buick chain of command, marketing, sales and service to make this work. I know things have been rough, but don't drop the ball when things are looking so good for Buick's future.

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The hard economic reality, though is that Acura is on the way up and Buick on the way down. Most Acura dealers are a lot newer than their Buick counterparts and with increasing sales it is easy to justify spending money on renovations, perks, etc. I wonder how many GM dealers are barely paying the taxes.

Another matter that is effecting a lot of older GM dealers in urban areas is that the land they are sitting on is worth more than their franchise Agreement ever will be again. Try telling a dealer principal whose showing a $600k loss every year and who is seeing properties around him selling for $5 and 8 million dollars that he should "hang in there."

notgonnahappen.com

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Very good points and very glad you're considering a Buick. Obviously, something is working out right for Buick in this case.

I've always envisioned the ideal B-P-GMC dealership blending contemporary 'premium' design with lots of emphasis on their heritage, a selling point much of the competition (Acura, Lexus) simply does not have. Use retro-modern American architecture and displays to recapture the passion of buying an automobile. Many will argue and say that all customers are not enthusiasts like you or I may be. Well, why not make them enthusiasts? Display a vintage car or two, use technology and home-like furnishings to create a warm, comfortable, but non-uptight environment. Infiniti has their 'thinking room' or whatever; have a big living room. Encourage dealerships to sponsor vintage car shows of GM marques on their premesis. Also encourage them to build a positive relationship in the community so owning a Buick, Pontiac, or GMC will have privilages beyond the car itself. Things like that.

oh fly, you silly bird. even though you might THINK Lexus hasn't been around, you're wrong. Don't you know they have been around since the late 1800's...........they made the first model T....the first automatic transmission, the first SUV.........:)

I'm sure our children will be hearing that.

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InvictaMan, do you think the "cold shoulder" experience you're getting from your salesperson is because they can't get you the Enclave you want yet? Somewhere it was posted that Buick dealers have pretty much taken all of the initial orders, for customers and stock, so getting one ordered now might be a problem. I know some salespeople I've dealt with just aren't professional - unless you're able to drive off the lot RIGHT NOW, then they don't care as much (the almighty $$$ rules their actions).

As for my opinion on Buicks, my wife leased a 2003 Buick Rendezvous in January '03 and absolutely loved it (when the GMAC lease pull-ahead came up, I took advantage of the situation and got an Envoy). The Envoy lease is up Aug '08 (depending on what lease pull-ahead deal is offered beforehand) and at the NYIAS today we looked at the OUTLOOK, Acadia, and Enclave. She really likes the Enclave the best, I'm torn between the Acadia & OUTLOOK. But she brought up a good point - we do have a good B-P-G dealership locally that we can work with and she was extremely happy with her Rendezvous. Given the opportunity, I wouldn't hesitate to get another Buick in a heartbeat.

If possible, can you look for another dealer? There was a local Saturn dealership where I used to live that I wouldn't deal with at all. I moved and am half-way between the one I don't like, and a little more than half-way from the one I do like. Although the drive to the one I don't like is easier and more convenient, I wanted to be 100% happy with where I spent my money. So I go out of my way and leave with a happier expereince after each visit. Maybe another Buick dealership can give you the attention and service you deserve?

Good luck on your next purchase. However, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you end up with an Enclave! :AH-HA_wink:

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You mention a Buick pairing with Cadillac...... With my experiences with Cadillac dealers, they are no better than a used car lot full of yahoos...... It's all about who owns the place, not what brand they are selling.

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If possible, can you look for another dealer?

Thanks for the insight. The sales person offered this opportunity, to allow him to order an Enclave of my desire in his initial preproduction order. So I would guess that it is not an issue of availablility, but more that he dropped the ball. The only glitch is that I was expecting black (charcoal, ebony, whatever) to be an offering and was stuck with the delima of settling for something else. I offered Cocoa and Red as alternatives. I am going to contact competitive dealerships. I have researched and found three others within a range that is reasonable. Thanks for the support folks, I hope it works out.

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You mention a Buick pairing with Cadillac...... With my experiences with Cadillac dealers, they are no better than a used car lot full of yahoos...... It's all about who owns the place, not what brand they are selling.

I agree with your thoughts about how a dealership is only as good as its owner/management. I was thinking more in the broader sense of marketing and positioning Buick in an outlet that has more focus on their target market, which is Cadillac dealerships IMO.

Edited by InvictaMan
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Any updates InvictaMan?

Well, yes they have.....

I decided to give the sales rep another try, so I called him and asked if he had received my messages and he said yes. I told him that I was disappointed in the lack of response. We will see where it goes from here, I say never burn bridges. What motivated the call was the knowledge that the brochures were finally available. I have yet to receive either of the two I ordered on-line. I was very excited to hear about the offering of the two new colors. I truly wanted black, so I have Carbon Flash Metallic with Cashmere interior to fill that need (though unfortunately it does cost more). But now that I see the full range of available combos and swatches, that are more true to reality, I honestly think I prefer the Blue-Gold Crystal Metallic with the Cashmere interior. I've got the feelers out on availablity of both. If we can meet together on the price (the Conquest $1,000 helps) then I may just be a proud Enclave owner. Things are looking much better, and I have moved on to talk to other dealers, so I now will have choices.

Thanks for asking!

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What motivated the call was the knowledge that the brochures were finally available.

And on that note, let me give kudos to the agency that produced the Enclave brochure. It is as much a work of art as is the car. I was hoping to see new and exciting photos, especially representing a broader range of color options, but that is what can be done at the web site (which seriously needs to be updated and refreshed in that nature more often). Other than the desire to see more detail about the engine, console, storage, etc., I thought the presentation was very nice. I highly suggest a matte varnish on the cover, with the Enclave typography in spot gloss varnish. Not only would it look hot, it would be soft to the touch, and it wouldn't fingerprint nearly as bad as the existing gloss varnish. Love the cover image, the interior page graphics, layout and the pure lavishness of the whole brochure.

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