Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

Business Central Gets Fleets Back to Work

GM’s commercial dealer program has been enhanced to provide new standards of dealer staff expertise, maintenance and servicing capabilities, inventory requirements and incentive options.

November 2009, by Thi Dao

The Thompson Group Classic Chevrolet of Grapevine, Texas, carries roughly 400 work-ready vehicles in stock, including service bodies, flatbeds, pickups, cargo vans and high-cube vans (pictured.)

With the country poised to exit the recession and get back to work, General Motors has updated and enhanced Business Central, its commercial dealer program designed to meet fleet and small business customer needs.

"We are already seeing indicators of the recovery, and historically, business vehicles lead the way," says Brian Bowden, dealer operations director for GM Fleet and Commercial Operations (GMFCO). "We are working to make sure our commercial dealer network is ready."

The Business Central program is built on a nationwide network of GM dealerships that meet strict requirements to serve the work vehicle customer. GM is establishing new standards for staffing and inventory as well as the training of commercial salespeople.

Bowden emphasizes that the program is going strong with more than 400 participating dealers. "Overall, the GM dealer network remains the largest in the automotive industry," says Bowden.

The Business Central program is built on the core principles of dealer staff expertise, inventory requirements, maintenance and servicing capabilities as well as incentive options.

Dedicated Fleet Consultants

Business Central dealerships are required to employ at least three dedicated commercial sales representatives as well as a commercial sales manager trained on the vehicles, upfit offerings and financing options.

Ken Thompson, director of fleet operations at The Thompson Group Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas, explains that he'll query a customer on type of work, required payload and usage patterns to offer the best vehicle option. "We'll go out to their business and take inventory of their vehicles. You get a pretty good idea of what they need by the way their trucks look," Thompson says.

According to Randy Marion of Randy Marion Auto Group in Mooresville, N.C., his staff operates similar to a fleet management company. His services for fleet clients include financing, titling and licensing, upfits, vinyl wraps and logos and delivery of new vehicles. "We're not just a fleet dealership," says Marion. "We're providing a service to these people who don't have the time to do those things for themselves."

Inventory for "I need it yesterday"

Business Central dealerships are required to maintain an inventory of commercial vehicles in stock for immediate sale. Vehicles include the full spectrum of work-ready Chevy and GMC trucks, vans, cars and SUVs. Many are already equipped with vocational upfits from specialty vehicle manufacturers.

Most Business Central dealerships stock much more: Marion's dealerships carry around $20 million in commercial vehicle inventory. Thompson says his dealership stocks about 400 work-ready vehicles, including service bodies, ¾-ton trucks, one-ton trucks, crew cabs, extended cabs, flat beds and cargo vans. He estimates the dealership has 40 different service bodies in stock.

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