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Dealers Ready to Go to War Over Mandatory Showroom Upgrades

“Where’s the payoff?” asks head of national dealer group.

by on Oct.20, 2011

Cadillac is one of many makers who have laid out detailed showroom redesigns dealers are expected to implement.

When Ford Motor Co. officials began pulling together plans to revive the long-struggling Lincoln brand one of the first moves was to advise dealers they’d need to redesign their showrooms – again.  And Lincoln isn’t unique, from high-line brands like Mercedes-Benz to mainstream marques such as Chevrolet, automakers regularly roll out expansive – and expensive programs intended to reflect brand values with dealer redesigns that can run millions of dollars for even a small, rural showroom.

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Now, however, dealers may be ready to tell manufacturers that without a clear payoff they can take their blueprints and shove ‘em.  The National Automobile Dealers Association, the nation’s largest automotive franchise group, has commissioned a study designed to see whether such projects really pay off or are nothing more than an extension of brand ego.

“We need to get down to rhyme and reason, legitimate facts and figures,” said NADA Chairman Steven Wade, himself a Utah mega-dealer who has been asking for answers every time automakers have demanded he upgrade his various showrooms.