Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

SAN FRANCISCO – General Motors Corp. is working with its dealers on an individual basis to consolidate the number of stores in North America.

Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president-sales, service and marketing, says he doesn’t believe in a big "unilateral" consolidation program.

"We look at every dealer as an individual," he says at the annual National Automobile Dealers Assn. conference here.

Some dealers have good real estate; some have their family in the business; some have other franchises, LaNeve says. "So we’re trying to match up buyers and sellers to put our dealers in a better position to get a return on investment and a chance to win."

LaNeve says progress has been made over the last several years to reduce GM’s dealer footprint, noting the auto maker has gone from having 7,400 "rooftops" to 6,800. "That’s still a lot, but we have an historic footprint."

Meanwhile, he says GM has launched a program that allows dealers participating in its Certified Used Vehicle Program to list their inventory on eBay and other websites. The move is part of a larger initiative to spur dealers to participate in more digital-sales initiatives.

Having a larger online presence allows dealers, as well as GM, to more efficiently get the word out their vehicle quality is on par with foreign competitors, LaNeve says, noting traditional forms of marketing just aren’t enough.

"Our products are a lot better than customers realize, and there is only so much you can say in television and print adds," he says. "So we’re moving to digital connectivity to drive our retail message."

GM also is making available to dealers a free website that contains lead management tools and local-market search engines.

bpope@wardsauto.com