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Buick and GMC dealers upgrade stores, loaner programs


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Buick and GMC dealers upgrade stores, loaner programs

David Barkholz

Automotive News -- December 3, 2010 - 3:00 pm ET

DETROIT -- Buick and GMC dealers are well along with store renovations, Brian Sweeney, vice president of sales and service for the brands, said today.

About 40 percent of the brands' 2,300 dealerships have started or completed improvements, Sweeney said. Another 30-40 percent will undertake their renovations next year, he said.

General Motors Co. is promoting the largest dealer facilities upgrade program in the carmaker's history. About 700 of the 1,000 GM dealerships that will start or complete the program this year are Chevrolet dealers.

Sam Slaughter, dealer principal of Sellers Buick GMC in suburban Detroit, said customers have complimented the $1.7 million renovations at his store completed last December.

Slaughter built a new showroom, renovated the exterior and transformed the old showroom into a café and customer waiting area with Internet availability.

“Now a guy can bring his car in for an oil change on his lunch hour, grab a sandwich and work on his computer,” Slaughter said.

Return on investment

Teasing out the exact return-on-investment is tough, Slaughter said, because it's difficult to determine what parts the new vehicles, facilities and improved consumer sentiment plays in the car-buying decision.

However, Slaughter said there would have been a cost for not upgrading if customers went elsewhere because they were turned off by looks and feel of the store.

“It's definitely more relaxed here now,” he said.

Buick and GMC have each reported 14 straight months of sales gains on a year-over-year basis. Buick sales were up 36 percent in November, while GMC's rose 30 percent.

Slaughter said he also is participating in a new courtesy loaner program at Buick and GMC.

The brands are providing incentive money for dealers to buy vehicles and put them into loaner service, Slaughter said. The incentives could reach $2,000, he said.

That ensures that loaners are Buick and GMC models rather than those of another GM brand, or worse, that of a non-GM manufacturer, Slaughter said. Participating dealers also get warranty reimbursement for the loaners instead of rental car companies getting that stipend, he said.

In November, both GMC and Buick finished in the top 5 for mass-market brands on the J.D. Power & Associates U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index.

The survey is an analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience measuring how well deals were completed, salesperson performance, delivery and dealership facilities.

The other brands in the top five were Mini (best overall), Mercury and Chevrolet.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101203/RETAIL07/101209903/1259#ixzz1765QpeGm

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