To sell new vehicles successfully in this country, you need a great line of desirable products that are priced right and backed by clever marketing.
When you have that combination, everyone is a winner: the factory, dealers and suppliers.
But when the factory fails to do its part and things are not going well in the showrooms, it is too easy to put all the blame on the dealer network.
Dealers may not have done anything wrong, yet there inevitably will be some sort of campaign to right the wrongs of the network.
It could be a multimillion-dollar real-estate makeover or in the case of Cadillac recently, a requirement that dealers do such things as work with "reputation management" companies — a requirement that has now been removed.
Yet after dealers have spent time and money on the latest and greatest factory-required programs, nothing will have changed unless the automaker delivers the goods in terms of products and marketing.
Without those essentials, dealers simply are not going to generate sales prospects — regardless of whether the customer shows up in person or online.
Over the years, I have seen customers beat a path to the dealer's door to buy a hot product. It did not really matter how friendly the dealership was if the customer could get that special new model.
It is too bad that factory executives can't simply admit when their product portfolios are not competitive or that their marketing is not good enough.
Sure, there are some bad dealers out there, but when a factory has great products, the prospects will find the dealership that suits them. You can count on it.
Programs such as Cadillac's Project Pinnacle give factory management lots of excuses, but when it comes down to the wire, maybe they should simply look at their own products.