Tuesday, January 20, 2009


if you ever worked for a dealer-principle/small business owner/family operation, you are very familiar with these words.
in my ever varying career(read everchanging), i would have to say, these at times, are the most difficult words to have to eat crow to. maybe why i never stayed in the military. having to accept what at the moment, maybe indifferent or conflicting terms or reasons, or what ever, has always stuck in my craw. for those who work for corporations, it may seem different, but what store managers or area managers interpet as grey areas of rules and regulations can bear witness to the same principle; "do as i say, not as i do".
as an example; if your current small business owner boss, in a business meeting states to you, "such and such customer" has issues and problems with him; it is a given, that there maybe bad blood between them, and he, the owner, feels you maybe the ticket or answer to resolving any of those percieved "issues" and the said customer may start buying from your company again; "but" if the above said "customer" doesn't open up and or continues his dislike of your business, and maybe even, because of what ever reason, doesn't like you either; "bam", now you are the bad guy. no win situtation for sure. hence the catch 22 of this blog; who really is to blame here?
first off, is this customer really worth the time? does the percieved value of the customer out-weigh the reasons of trying to keep his or hers business? what really is the reasons for the bad blood of the two companies that can't be resolved? why does the owner, feel another person, who may not be able to change the reasons of the bad blood, is really gonna make a difference or leave a bad reflection of that persons ablilty to manage, due to a unwavering conflict with no chance of resolution?
at 48 years old and 27 years of this business culture, i can see why many of my seniors and other co-workers have stressed out and in many cases, burned out of this industry. stress is a killer; but to keep stress down and to retain business and employees and customers, all parties, from the customers, the owners and the employees, locked in this dance of customer service, must seek a common ground, level playing fields and sanity, to stay afloat as well as to make money in these tough economic times.

Friday, January 16, 2009


there is a growing upswell in the automotive manufacturing market place, to shrink down and cull some lines if not whole companies in this new automotive melt down brought upon us by the current and future economic issues. many companies who grew fat on the backs of over supply and low demand product, coupled with high costs of materials, labor and shrinking profit margins and stock performance, are finding that tough love is a terrible relationship to be in as of late.
cutting workers, shedding factories and losing market share seems to be a daily occurance here in detroit, with what seems to be no end in sight. maybe, just maybe, if the domestic 2.5 companies learn to sell a product line that encompasses a type of product that suits a market need, and make it the best they can for the dollar, and they would find that instead of badge engineering, and creating a glut of cars and trucks many don't want or can afford, just to keep factories working and to re-coup development dollars, they might start find they can make more by spreading the platform around, like toyota does with the camry chassis; sure they have two real cars, okay three, badged differently (lexus, solara, and camry), but the rest of the platform meets different needs and appear to most as totally new and different car platforms. gm is starting with their zeta platfom as well as epilson chassis. ford is doing great using the mazda based platforms to create niche and market based cars in the same way. doing this, gm can let saab be a saab; live the saab 3 alone, as a niche market car, saturn could have their own car, reliving what it was designed to be, as well as each model line could keep their halo car as what they do best and leave it at that; corvette could be it's own line, cadillac would remain what it is, and so on. take the best offerings of each line, combine the whole line up as one company and volia, a winning team line up.
yes, there will be losses, dealerships will go, as will excessive production and factories; but long run, american car companies will survive and that is good for our country and companies as well.

Monday, January 12, 2009


seems the auto manufactures, more so the semi-big three, domestic, are on a cusp of finally realizing the having competing dealerships like starbucks, nearly on top of each other, generally with in a 5-10 mile radius is some metro areas, is a giant burden that needs to stop, like maybe 15 years ago. the same can be said for many aftermarket auto parts stores as well; in many cases, in order to franchise the company and trump up growing numbers, the amount of profitablity of each location is dropping and markets are starting to scavage off each others location, rather than just the competition.
not only that, companies, so scared to drop dealers or franchises, keep supporting such businesses, that in all regards, should have closed or become something else entirely. i can bet many of you who work in small towns, many dealerships and parts franchisees look so far in the past, the only thing missing is the pickle barrel and rocking chairs to set them up as the general store. sorry folks, but that doesn't cut it in the mass market, media savy world we are in.
one such so called dealership, here in the motor city capital, is not only a GMC truck dealership, it is a NAPA franchise as well; it sits in a centuries old building and the business as a whole seems like it is still in 1959. not really who i'd like to see as my cutting edge dealership, with so called factory techs working on my 2010 denali; no, it almost looks like a scene from so hollywood b-movie, complete with bubba fixing my gmc topkick and getting some tractor parts from the NAPA counter in the same building.
come on folks; women control more purchasing power than men as a whole; i am pretty sure that most professional women, wearing prada, would not be caught dead in such a place, let alone, allow their family to buy from there as well. bright and shiny store fronts, professional services and cutting edge technology is what these companies are suppose to represent; cut these so called dealers and franchisees; bring the level of your companies asperations up and enforce your corporate image in your contracts and you'll find water will find its level and the dead weight that is these underperformers, will fade away.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


seems everyday, here in car jaded detroit michigan, if you read our liberal, left wing ramblings, called daily papers, in the letters to the editors, there are the usual responses, about buying domestic cars and all our woes will be gone. of course, if you read further into each and every letter written, in to the paper, or the columnists as well, the common enemy, for them at least, is the japanese auto industry, ie; Toyota.
now, funny as it may seem, european car companies, are rarely, if ever, included in these rants. what is even funnier, when some of these so called letters of compassion are written, they still, to this day, include references of world war 2, which by far, most of the people who remember that war, are pretty much over it in one way or another. if that theory was to hold any water, if i remember my history faily well, germany of all countries, was pretty much the leader of the whole ball of wax, with japan, coming in at a close second, and italy right there in third. and we won't even mention any french stuff...
i have owned japanese, german, italian and american cars. all have their quirks and pluses, that inherently make them what they are, or what gives them the color or flavor, that makes them what they are. most car buyers, a car is just means of transportation, some may have a preferance to a make or country, but most are based on payments, overall cost and what one expects of the overall ownership experience, not who started or won the war, or whose government supports one over another. why we have such bias that stays with us to this day, is plain ignorance, a type of ignorance like any type of bias towards a race, creed or sex; we buy for what ever reason pleases our own selves, not for the reason some liberal, biased publication deems noteworthy. granted, we are the domestic car capital; in paper form only, more of our "domestic" cars and trucks are made in Canada, or Mexico anyway; are those jobs helping us here in Detroit? no. companies are answerable to their stock holders, those same shareholders want profits, from companies that need to keep their costs in line, and to meet the needs of the marketplace.
what did the japanese do wrong? was it the war? no, it was their business model. they built good, solid cars that supply the wants and needs of the marketplace. they took our production models and built upon them and improved on them to suit their needs as a company. how was that wrong? it was wrong in our business leaders eyes, when what we saw was unfair trade laws and price manipulations; but that was too late, the cow got out the barn yard, and closing the gate now is a waste of time.
the nay-say that our cars are shut out of the european or japanese marketplaces is another attempt at lame excuses; for those of us who have driven overseas, or even seen or read about the roads and driving conditions overseas, understands, most of our cars and trucks, designed for here, are by and far too large and inpractical for roads and tax laws by and far for those countries. most people overseas love our cars, and most things american, just as we enjoy their products, but when even a chevy colbalt or ford fusion are considered large by their standards, in size and our smallest engine in these cars, under-performs most of the marketplace cars they would go up against in the host countries. in most european countries, the diesel, is the motor of choice, and here again, we lag far behind in those technologies. once again, our own companies, here in our own country, are now starting to import those same cars and designs, as "world platforms" and becoming more viable in the whole world marketplace, even if some of the cars, seem a bit small for our tastes, they are starting to grow on us and with fuel prices all over the map, are even more so, making sense.
import? i don't think so; i think what we call imports, is starting to blur, some cars will always be designed for a certain marketplace, but by and large, i feel, the world is our marketplace, and as long as we are free to buy what we please, nothing is sacred cow, no longer

Monday, January 5, 2009


i have finally reached a milestone in my life; i have sucessfully lost two jobs in a row, due to the down turn here in the automotive aftermarket, here in beautiful cold and dreary michigan, in the last three years; for 27 years, in this industry, i hadn't ever been without a job; now, with the looks of things, i maybe without for a while again.
but truth be told, i feel my medical condition also has something to do with my demise as well; i wear a scarlet "D" on my chest, "D" for depression/bi-polar. you see, for most of my life, i bore witness to the fact i had and lived with this form of mania. most people face it, depression, in their own fashion or form. we all face depression, at some point in our lives, but the medical condition i live with, must be treated with medications for me to live a some what normal life. unlike many who are in denial about their own mental health, who use illegal drugs or over abuse the brown bottles, i don't self medicate; i stay true to my path and take my meds as needed. sure, i have days, in which i slip and fall and could use more help, or better afford my medications to upkeep my moods as best i can, but truth be told, it's not always easy, nor is it always that simple. depression strikes each person differently and with no compassion; but i am not here to teach or to judge, just to say, like others who seek their own help thru abuse of substances, we who suffer from within, only wish others to understand our own personal hell and treat us as such.
see, i made the mistake, when i would suffer a major setback, to announce my short comings, as what they where, not looking for shoulder to cry on, just to say, look, i am human and i can falter.
alas, ignorance, comes in many colors and silently, behind my back, the whisperings of weak link, not up to par, or what ever mis-givens one can label me as, came to bear. sure, the economy was a easy target, but inside, any real gains made, were wiped clear by thoughts of less than perfection, due to my mental health issues.
stress, the good and the bad; can be and is a major killer of men and women. many people are able to hide their battles with stress, whether behind the coatails of booze, drugs, abuse of any kind or just better understanding and being able to counter any or all miscomings thru smarter and wiser living. i don't know or understand each others issues; i only know and live my own, and thru living my own life, i better understand, the more i understand my own short comings, i can better adapt my own weaknesses to the misgivens others may have of me.