In the third part, I am on difficult terrain. I write about the Saab partners. A car maker who does not build cars. Traders who have been out of stock for months. Are these good conditions for going on tour with Saab Germany? The framework conditions are not good, but when if not now? If you want to successfully sell 2012 cars from spring, you have to show your flag now.
Well, I had some reservations at the beginning of the Saab dealer tour, because I did not know how the dealers would react. Industry unknown, initial situation not the very best. In the first few days it was perhaps surprising for one or the other Saab partner, when the new Saab 9-4x and the sports suit suddenly stood in the yard. I'm sure and guessed it ... something was skeptical on the part of the dealer at the beginning of the short-term organized tour. "Do they really come, or do they not come ..." many thought.
The new Saabs came and the tour developed better day by day. You get to know the various dealers and you realize that there is not the typical Saab dealer. Depending on the region and company size, the Saab partners are completely individual.
Who impressed me most? Let's start in the north. Etehad in Halstenbeck certainly had one of the most beautiful Saab showrooms on my tour. Not too big, very tasty, Hanseatic and very "Saabig". If I had something to say at Saab (I did not), Etehad would be my design for a "Saab Flagship Store". Because Etehad is not a glass palace and yet in a very special blend the tasteful center of nobility and understatement.
That it does not always depend on a large building at a Saab partner - or service partner - can be seen in the small service partners. Saab Service Zielke in Lübeck does not have a large exhibition hall, but is very committed. On Tuesday morning, a rather ungrateful time, customers came in droves. Personal commitment can make up for missing size.
At Zielke in Lübeck, there was also the nicest smile of the tour. By Annika Blottnicki. "Ah ... you are the ...," she said as the blogger entered the dealership. In addition a charming smile, which also customers can see every day at Zielke.
No matter where we came, whether it was Berlin, where Saab partner Weber has the most beautiful Saab building on my tour, or in the direction of Saxony, where in Leipzig is a very modern Saab center. The welcome was everywhere warm, the atmosphere was very good.
The real opportunity to see and speak with Saab Germany's local management has created a lot of trust and sympathy. At some point on the tour, I asked Saab Country Manager Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher the question that I did not really want to answer. How it had kept its predecessor ... with direct dealer contact on site ... I wanted to know from him. The answer has to be thought by every reader.
At Saab Germany, the new thinking and direct contact with the Saab partners is the program. Saab is in upheaval, not only in Trollhättan, and also in Frankfurt is being renovated vigorously. The dealer tour is only the beginning of something we will see next year, if Trollhättan finally gets the green light.
Let's not fool ourselves ! Many dealers are committed and stand by the brand. Some, like the Mobile Forum Dresden, celebrated real parties with us. Others, such as the Saab Zentrum Chemnitz, have had "I love Saab" buttons made. The Saab Centers in Mainz and Würzburg printed invitation cards or flyers.
There are even traders building new buildings for Saab. In spring 2012 we will celebrate two spectacular openings.
But that's just one side. The other side is currently the hard struggle for survival, for which each dealer has developed a different strategy. One imports Saabs from Sweden. The other one buys every Saab he can get from a leasing company. The third restored classic cars and crashes on classic Saabs. Others have a second or third leg, which ensures survival.
Some Saab dealer takes another brand into the program and is thus heartbroken. Other traders are struggling so hard that they do not get that far. A Saab partner (I do not tell who) told me about his emigration thoughts. He then drove the cars of another brand to the test and said that he could not do that to his customers. "Alone the switches in the car, impossible ..." As always in life, with me it is similar, wife and daughter were asked for advice. Even there, the thumbs went down. So, subject adjourned.
The Saab partners see themselves as part of the Saab family, they have it in common with us Saab drivers. They have a hard time and the situation can not go on forever. 2012 we have to see new Saabs on our roads. Because every Saab partner contributes his personal and financial part to the survival of our brand. He also makes sure that our cars stay on the road with a lot of effort. And he stays with us, in "stand by mode" at his own expense.
For all dealers my heartfelt thanks and honest respect.
I'll come back to Halstenbeck again. With Masoud Etehad, the owner of the longtime Saab partner, I had a conversation, which then came on the subject of loyalty. Why, I asked him, are you staying with Saab?
His answer: "Everything I have, I owe Saab. Saab has paid all this in the many years past, my house, my master's house. That's why we stay with Saab ".
That speaks for Saab. That's loyalty. There is nothing to add.