Remember how Cadillac dealers were not supposed to have been happy after meetings with Cadillac executives? Well, that turned out entirely different than expected, since dealer sentiment was described as optimistic following the session with executives that took place in San Francisco at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in late January.
The conference came a week after Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen told media that Cadillac had “too many” U.S. dealers, and that his plan would be to convince smaller Cadillac dealers to create downsized, standalone “boutique” stores to improve the luxury brand’s image. Dealers leaving the meeting said that de Nysschen started the conference by talking off-script to address some of these comments, especially the ones about the boutique stores. As it turns out, de Nysschen has no plans to reduce the number of U.S. Cadillac franchises. Instead, he is encouraging some dealers to invest in smaller standalone showrooms that displayed two to five cars, rather than Cadillac entire lineup.
“Going off script for the first 10 minutes was a powerful thing. He went a long way with the dealers”, Howard Drake, a dealer in Sherman Oaks, California, told the Detroit News. “This isn’t some evil plot where he’s dragging us off in the weeds; this is all very common sense stuff.”
de Nysschen didn’t offer a timeline for the boutique store initiative, which Cadillac said it would help finance, without offering specifics.
“I had no specific reason to think there were any fears that needed calming,” he said. “Judging by the questions, I would say dealers are optimistic and feel confident we have a comprehensive plan. We know we have some heavy lifting to do but we also know how we’re going to address those issues.”
Dealers were also keen on de Nysschen’s vision for the brand.
“We need to elevate the dealership experience, there’s no doubt about that,” said Bob Ghent, a dealer in Greely, Colorado. “I think that’s probably necessary in the business if we really want to compete with the big guys. I thought the dealers responded very well to it; They were very happy with it.”
“I think he’s a very interesting leader of the brand,” said Ghent. “I certainly hope the plan works. At least there’s optimism in it.”