As Cadillac moves forward with aggressive styling and sportier driving dynamics, it is trying to instill a Ritz-Carlton mindset at its dealerships.

the General Motors Co. luxury brand's dealer-training partnership with Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is paying dividends as the program evolves. The hotel chain's “lateral service” concept is catching on with Cadillac dealers, says Marketing Manager Don Butler.

Ritz-Carlton preaches job titles “go out the window” when peak business times strain manpower, he explains. “The way Ritz describes it is, the general manager of the hotel is changing linen, if that's what's needed at that time.”

Applying this to the dealership environment could mean showroom personnel abandon their posts in favor of the service department during the critical morning hours.

“What if your sales people were in the service aisle when those service customers were coming in to help meet and greet, just say hello, offer someone a cup of coffee or maybe even sell a vehicle?” Butler asks.

“Those little ideas don't cost any money. This one dealer, the first day they decided to do that, they sold a new vehicle.”

Those ideas then will be shared throughout the company, in accordance with the continuing Ritz-Carlton program, to compel creativity in dealing with customers. Butler wants everyone associated with Cadillac to ask, “What can I do to surprise and delight a customer today?”

Meanwhile, Cadillac is launching its new CTS Coupe that starts arriving on dealer lots this month. Cadillac is staging various local debut events to generate buzz.