It’s no big secret in the automotive industry that on the whole, Chevrolet dealers are more run-down than their foreign competitors. That’s because General Motors has been around longer, and many dealers fail to keep up with the times. Over a year ago, GM began an effort to modernize its dealer network. It issued new standards of compliance in its Essential Brand Elements (EBE) program.
EBE pays out quarterly payments of $250,000 to dealers who meet certain standards and are compliant with the program. Oklahoma dealer Marc Heitz has participated in the program for years, in addition to winning GM’s Mark of Excellence Award for high standards of service.
In 2008, Heitz opened a sprawling $20 million dollar dealership complex. This dealer is unlike any other; Heitz wanted it to be an attraction that would drive traffic from buyers and sightseers alike. The dealer includes a picnic area, 110-foot wind generator, dog runs, and a cistern for collecting rainwater. Inside there is an aquarium stocked with fish and a 45-foot waterfall. It is filled with unique elements and classic brand memorabilia. Since completing the dealer, GM has paid out its quarterly bonuses.
Sales have also consistently risen year over year, making Marc Heitz Chevrolet the fifteenth-best selling dealer in the United States. Things turned sour in September though, when Chevrolet sales chief Don Johnson visited the store. Johnson announced that the dealer was out of compliance with GM’s EBE program and that quarterly payments would be stopped. Both Heitz and GM said they tried to reach a deal, but failed in doing so. Rather than complete the changes necessary to be compliant with EBE, Heitz has announced the sale of the dealership. “This way we didn’t have to give up our principles for the money,” Heitz, 48, said of the sale. The loss of $1 million yearly was a big blow to the dealer, and its 108 employees. Oklahoma City Chevrolet dealer David Stanley is the new owner, and he plans to bring the facility into compliance with EBE as soon as possible.