Dealers and technicians waiting on Saab Spyker

The deal is all but done and as customers, we’ve all got something to look forward to in terms of new vehicles to talk about and drive. Saab have a future and it seems with the right vision and the right people, the sky’s the limit.
The immediate concern, of course, is getting cars produced and getting those cars out to dealerships so that they can be sold. I’ve already heard about one dealership this week in Europe who just sold their only Saab in stock – and that was one they had to get in from another dealership in their region!
Saab have several key markets that need to be re-stocked. They have some markets, key or otherwise, who haven’t received new stock since around the middle of last year.
Beyond that, though, there are some dealers who are hurting even more.
I’ve heard from another dealership of more than 40 years standing who is in severe danger of closing its doors. As you might know, leasing was taken away from Saab customers as an option during 2009 as financiers thought Saab to be in to perilous a state to support. This move slashed new car sales for dealerships in most of Saab’s bigger markets.
Following that there came another blow to dealers as lending groups stopped offering floorplan finance. This is the money that dealerships use to get new stock in the doors and keep it in the showroom until it sells. It takes a lot of money to stock a dealership and dealers in various parts of the world have been struggling to finance even the few vehicles that they’ve been able to carry.
Even though Saab is about to be purchased and ramp up production of all-new models under new ownership, things don’t look like they’re going to get easier too soon for some dealerships. Whilst big combined dealerships with multiple brands might have an easier time, some of the smaller dedicated Saab shops are really struggling.
One of the problems is that the banks, when assessing this type of finance, look at historical sales for the last three years or so. If you’ve been Saab-watching for some time, then you’ll know that sales in the last two years have been down, most notably last year when they were down by around 60% globally. So for these smaller Saab-only shops, it’s a real uphill battle to keep the doors open.
Beyond the dealerships, there are the employees that work for them. Some dealers have had to cut costs in order to keep the doors open and one way to cut costs is to cut staff. I’m sure it’s a last resort as the right human resources are some of the most important resources any business can have. But it does happen.
Last week I heard from a guy in just that position. Greg Rockefeller has around 18 years experience working on Saabs and is a factory trained Saab master technician. He had to leave his employer recently because work was too slow for him to stay. He’s now taking a chance and starting up his own shop (Rocks Automotive – 2345 16th St, Troy, NY 12180, ph# 518-274-1501).
These are just another group amongst a big pile of items on Victor Muller’s desk, but they’re big ones. Many of these dealerships and people are the heart and soul of what’s known to be a dedicated brand. They’ve been struggling just to make it this far and the guys I heard from this week are in severe danger of being tripped up at the final hurdle, just as things are about to crank up again.
I really hope something can be sorted out soon, for the brand, these dealerships and their customers.

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