What's good for GM isn't bad for its dealers, says General Motors Corp. President and CEO Richard Wagoner in a keynote speech at the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“This isn't a zero-sum game,” Mr. Wagoner tells dealers. “Your gain is not necessarily my loss. My loss is not necessarily your gain. I think we can grow the business such that everyone has a chance to gain — and that's exactly what we have to do.

“It's time we start working together again — to grow the entire business. To do that, it's going to take some new thinking on all our parts — and that starts with better communication.”

It was at last year's NADA convention that GM executives admitted the folly of a corporate plan to buy up to 800 dealerships.

Since then, GM has emphasized the need for better communications with its dealers.

Outgoing NADA Chairman Harold B. Wells, in his convention speech, sounded similar themes as Mr. Wagoner.

“The stakes are too high for us not to maintain meaningful, two-way dialogues,” says Mr. Wells.

Factory/dealer communications can be more effective if more attention is given to areas of common interest, Mr. Wagoner says.

“Dealer and OEM interests are mutually consistent 90% percent of the time. But too much of our communications are focused on our areas of disagreement and difference.”

Mr. Wagoner acknowledges that many of GM's past attempts at innovation — GM Retail Holdings, the rotary engine and the assembly line robots of the ’80s — did not work out.

He emphasized that the failures are part of the learning process.

Buzz Sands of Sands Chevrolet in Glendale, AZ, sympathizes with some of the tough decisions GM has made in the past year.

“We've had some disappointments in the past but hopefully things will continue in an upward direction,” says Mr. Sands.

On better communications, an Idaho Chevy-Olds dealer says, “Let's stop talking about it and let's get going on it.”