I'm once again out in Victorville, California, at Greiner Buick-Pontiac-GMC. It's beem just two weeks since my last visit, the day GM notified which dealerships would not have their contracts renewed next year. Greiner survived, and since that day, David Greiner says business has actually picked up, from about two cars sold a day to four.
Sunday, Greiner didn't sell a single car. "The whole auto mall was dead," David Greiner says. Yesterday was the first day potential customers started asking about bankruptcy, wanting to know "What's it gonna mean for me?" Now that bankruptcy has actually happened, Greiner says, "I hope this gives our customers more certainty." He thinks it's "cool" that Chrysler is coming out of Chapter 11 as GM is going in, because it will show people "where we'll be" in a few months.
I asked Greiner how he will survive for the next year. "We need to sell 80 cars a month," he says, down from 150 a year ago. In May, they sold 70, mostly used. Only one new Buick sold. Greiner says they also need 1,200 service customers a month. "I think we can do that." He would prefer to merge operations with the Chevy-Cadillac dealer down the street, because the two are currently "beating each other up over every customer."
Finally, how does he prepare his employees for this emotional day? "We may have a little meeting...(but) I think people need to go back to work, keep their heads down." He hopes the President will tell the nation "today is a good day, not a bad day." As for his own feelings, David Greiner says he can't show sadness or disappointment. "I have to be strong for everybody here."
Update: David Greiner's sales staff sold a car this morning, the first car for June. Not a new GMC truck or bargain-basement Pontiac...but a used Chrysler 300.
Meantime, the service department is packed, typical for Monday morning. No change there.
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