Several area GM dealers will be making facelifts to their buildings while others will take on more extensive construction projects as part of the automaker's efforts to get dealers to update their facilities.
Joe Self Cadillac Chevrolet BMW, 8801 E. Kellogg, is taking on one of the most extensive projects, including new construction, while Davis-Moore Chevrolet's project, 8200 W. Kellogg, will largely be cosmetic.
But the GM project is not just about getting dealers across the country to have a consistent look to their buildings, a GM official said.
It is one part of a four-pronged program reflecting post-bankruptcy GM's desire to be more competitive and dominant.
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"It's a new company," said GM dealer relations spokeswoman Ryndee Carney. "We're committed to designing, building and selling the best vehicles in world.
"We can't be successful if our dealers can't be successful."
Joe Self said work on the renovations will start in August.
The project, which he estimates will cost between $1.75 million and $2 million, includes razing the dealership's pre-owned sales building, replacing it with a 16,000-square-foot new-car showroom, and moving pre-owned sales to its current new-car showroom.
"We'll have their colors, their marble, the finishes they want," Self said.
The project is estimated to last seven to eight months, he said.
Commerce Construction is the general contractor. Spangenberg Phillips Tice is the architect.
Robert Donovan said he is hoping to begin renovations soon at Donovan Auto and Truck Center, 5800 W. Kellogg, which is a dealer for Buick, Cadillac and GMC.
"We're getting our final bids this week," said Donovan, the dealership's general manager.
Donovan said his project will include a new exterior for the showroom building, new flooring inside, and new furniture for the offices and lounge.
Dawson Grimsley, president of Davis-Moore Automotive Group, said his company's Chevrolet dealership also will renovate the showroom's exterior, new flooring and new lighting.
"Ours is not near as major an overhaul as some of the other guys are going to do," Grimsley said.
Self and Donovan said that what is nice about this facility update program is GM is helping dealers by paying for a portion of the renovations and construction.
"They don't always throw in," Self said, adding when he had to do a new showroom and service center for his BMW business a decade ago, the German automaker didn't help pay for it.
Self and other dealers didn't say exactly how much financial assistance is being provided.
Donovan said the amount is based on a dealer's sales.
More than remodeling
GM's Carney said the program, called Essential Brand Elements, is voluntary and is the automaker's "most formalized and structured program" in its history.
"By the end of next year, 3,300 of our 4,500 dealers will have completed the program or be enrolled in the program," Carney said.
And by agreeing to participate, dealers are agreeing to more than revamping their facilities.
They also are agreeing to provide additional training for their sales staffs and service technicians, improving their customer retention efforts and enhancing their digital marketing, she said.
On the customer retention front, Carney said GM is providing "tools" for dealers to increase the number of customers who buy cars and trucks from them to return to the dealer for things such as oil changes, new tires and other service.
The digital marketing is largely focused on dealers' websites, the information they provide and the interactivity that they offer with online shoppers who are accustomed to instant gratification.
"There's just a fine art to working with customers who are going online to do research and to buy a vehicle," Carney said. With technology changing as quickly as it does, she added, "You always have to keep on top of this. We definitely want to help them do the best job" of that.
Carney said that the program was conceived shortly after GM exited from bankruptcy in July 2009.
Donovan said the fact that dealers like himself are agreeing to take on costly renovations — even with GM assistance — shows how far the automaker has come from bankruptcy and the faith dealers have in it.
"Right now we feel real confident with where GM is going," he said.