Retail Front

Cleaning House, Ford CEO’s Pay, Chevy’s Slogan and Chinese Drivers

As the boy moves out, the fireworks go off and a Dumpster gets filled – to the neighbor’s delight.

Another milestone achieved, Zach moved out last week. Again. Parents with grown children will appreciate that we love our son dearly, but he now is in his early 20s, and it was time for him get his own place. I hope the fireworks display in his rearview mirror didn’t offend him as he drove off.

Now, we have another guest room in the house and redecorating was in order. Well, what the heck, while we’re at it, we might as well go through the entire house and get rid of all of that junk. When we closed the offices five years ago, we brought home a lot of stuff, including chairs, tables and computer monitors from the dark ages.

I had a huge Dumpster put in our driveway. Debbie and I spent a weekend filling it to overflowing. Then some of the neighbors came by and asked if we were throwing out all that. Before we knew it, 20 people with ladders were in our yard, pulling their SUVs into our driveway and hauling our junk away. Dumpster diving in a gated community?

There isn’t a dealership in the country that doesn’t need spring housecleaning. I visit dealerships nationwide, and frankly many beautiful facilities have become unnecessarily cluttered.

Don’t blame the messenger. Walk through your showroom and conference room and take a look. I’m betting there are old sales materials and brochures on the floor and in the corner and behind the refrigerator. I see out-of-date everything stacked and stuffed everywhere in most dealerships I visit.

It’s time for every department to toss what hasn’t been touched or used in the last few months. Meanwhile, here are my thoughts on some recent industry activities.

Mulally Pay Cut

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is seeing his pay reduced. His compensation package reportedly is down 29% over last year.

I guess this signals hard times at the Mulally household when you go from making $30 million one year to $21 million the next. Maybe he can get a part-time job to take up the slack.

But nobody should complain about how much Mulally earns. To many, including myself, he is a business hero for turning Ford around.  

Not to Be Outdone by Toyota

Honda is recalling 180,000 vehicles in the U.S., 250,000 worldwide, because of a “vehicle stability assist system” defect that could cause sudden braking when the driver’s foot isn’t on the brake pedal. Toyota had a recall for unintended acceleration, now Honda has one for unintended braking.

New Chevy Slogan

“Find New Roads” replaces “Chevy Runs Deep” as Chevrolet’s new tagline. Not to be overly critical, but maybe we should take a poll on which of the two unimaginative slogans sucks the least?

Did You See This?

Allstate Insurance now is selling cars. Itswebsite boasts it can save consumers thousands of dollars at the dealership. The online function that does that is powered by TrueCar. That’s right, TrueCar is driving down dealer profits through alliances like this one.

China Coming on Strong

Amazing! I was doing research for a speech I’m giving to dealer associations, and came across some interesting information.

China now has more than 200 million licensed drivers. The U.S. has 208 million, up from 193 million a decade ago. As best we can measure, China had about 50 million licensed drivers in 2003. No wonder the auto industry is so interested in that country.

There’s really nothing earth-shaking happening in the world of retail automotive so I thought I’d go easy this time compared with the usual signature Ziegler stuff. But who knows what might break loose soon? Until then, I’m donning a Hawaiian shirt, cleaning the pool furniture and welcoming springtime in Atlanta.

Keep those emails, Facebook messages, Tweets and phone calls coming. Until next time.

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues. He can be reached at WardsAuto readers also may comment on this article by logging in or registering below.

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What's Retail Front?

Blogs about automotive retailing, commenting on news impacting the business of selling vehicles.


Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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