Cadillac’s dealer footprint is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Cadillac stores cover much more ground than any of its German and Japanese competitors, and reach into some of the more rural parts of the United States. However, this comes at a major cost.
Most rural Cadillac dealers are part of combined Chevrolet or Buick-GMC dealers. Those dealers sell very little Cadillacs, sometimes only around 30 vehicle per year, and it can hurt brand image selling Cadillacs behind a decidedly more blue-collar Chevy dealer.
Johan de Nysschen has proposed a solution for dealers, pitching the idea of virtual stores to some of its lowest-volume dealers, according to Automotive News. de Nysschen states it would alleviate the problem of having dealers keep a dozen or so Cadillacs on hand in case a buyer does happen to trickle in.
“We want to work with those small dealers to give Cadillac a competitive advantage in terms of reach into their local communities,” de Nysschen said in an interview last week, “but do so in a way that’s more closely aligned with what we think the Cadillac luxury brand experience should be.”
de Nysschen delivered the pitch to 400 of its lowest-volume dealers, painting a picture of a concierge-like Cadillac service. Salespeople would be armed with touch-screen configurators and virtual reality devices supplied by Cadillac, and visit prospective buyers at the workplace and home. Cadillacs would be sourced from regional inventory centers, rather than sit on dealer lots.
It would also allow bundled Cadillac dealers to opt out of the pricey remodel for Cadillac dealers that will be implemented. de Nysschen added it’s a way to “immerse customers in a virtual brand experience, so that our dealers need not concern themselves with investing in showrooms and brand-element requirements, which clearly are cumbersome if you’re such a small dealer.”
Dealer reaction has been mixed to the proposal, with one Chevrolet-Cadillac dealer owner unsure if he’ll opt in for either program, and worried about not having product on hand for a customer.
“In this day and age, with customers’ propensity to want immediate gratification,” Jim Stutzman said, “I don’t know how you can compete if you don’t have product available.”