Does A Saturn, GM or Other Failing Dealership That Is Scheduled To Close Deserve Your Loyalty?

Philip Zelinger
Twenty five years as a GM, then Executive Dealer Principal and finally as a Dealer Principal taught me the importance of team work. The loyalty that I worked for as the leader of our team was earned by valuing the people I worked with as my most valued asset. My R.O.I. was expressed in relationships that have survived a lifetime with the shared profits coming in a distant second. Human nature still drives the auto industry and loyalty is as important as ever - maybe more, however the rapid consolidation of our industry has forced many family people to face unusual challenges to the status quo. My auto dealer clients are asking me if they should be honest with their staff if they are planning on closing their dealership. Some have no choice, like the Saturn and notified GM dealers, and others are seeing the writing on the wall. I would appreciate hearing your opinion as a dealer principal or senior manager and/or the equally relevant insight as a sales person, service writer or controller. My opinion leans towards full disclosure and respecting the individual employee's primary responsibility to their family with the hope that there can be a mutually acceptable exit strategy, however the dealer client writing my check deserves an honest evaluation of how a mass exit will impact their ability to limit their personal liabilities as they wind down operations and consider next step strategies. What are your thoughts on where loyalty ends and survival kicks in?

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