In the third part, I go on difficult terrain. I write about the Saab partners. A car maker who doesn't build cars. Dealers who have been without supplies for months. Are these the prerequisites to go on tour with Saab Germany? The framework is not good, but when if not now? If you want to successfully sell cars from spring 2012, you have to show your colors.
Well, I had some concerns at the start of the Saab dealer tour because I didn't know how the dealers would react. Branch unknown, starting point not the 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 appeared on the yard.
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.
There are exciting and skeptical traders
Who particularly impressed me? 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 tasteful, Hanseatic and very “saab”. If I had something to say at Saab (I don't have it), Etehad would be my design for a “Saab Flagship Store”. Because Etehad is not a glass palace and yet in a very special mixture it is the tasteful center of noblesse and understatement.
You can see from the small service partners that a Saab partner - or service partner - does not always depend on a large building. 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 engagement can make up for a lack of size.
At Zielke in Lübeck there was also the most beautiful smile of the tour. By Annika Blottnicki. "Ah ... it's you ..." she said when the blogger entered the dealership. In addition, a charming smile, which the customers at Zielke can see every day.
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 fact that we were able to see and speak to the management of Saab Germany on site has created a lot of trust and sympathy. At some point on the tour I asked Saab Country Manager Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher the question, to which I actually didn't want an answer. As it had done the predecessors, with direct dealer contact on site, I wanted to know from him. Every reader has to think of the answer for himself.
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.
The Saab dealers are very different
Let's not fool ourselves! Many dealers are committed and stand by the brand. Some, like the Mobilforum Dresden, celebrated real parties with us. Others, like the Saab Center in 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 only one aspect. The other side is currently the tough fight for survival, for which every retailer has developed a different strategy. One imports Saabs from Sweden. The other buys every Saab he can get from a leasing company. The third restores classic cars and pounces on classic Saabs. Others have a second or third mainstay that ensures survival.
Some Saab dealers take a different brand with them and are so unfortunate. Other dealers have so much trouble with it that they don't get that far. A Saab partner (I won't reveal who) told me about his thoughts about leaving. He then drove another brand of cars to the test and said he couldn't do that to his customers. "The switches in the car alone, impossible ..." As always in life, with me it is similar, wife and daughter were asked for advice. The thumbs went down there too. So, topic postponed.
The Saab partners see themselves as part of the Saab family, they have that in common with us Saab drivers. They have a hard time and the situation cannot go on forever. In 2012 we have to see new Saabs on our streets. Because every Saab partner contributes their personal and financial part to the survival of our brand. With a very high level of commitment, he ensures that our cars stay on the road. And it remains with us, in “stand-by mode” at our own expense.
For all dealers my heartfelt thanks and honest respect.
I come back to Halstenbeck. I had a conversation with Masoud Etehad, the owner of the long-term Saab partner, which then also raised the issue of loyalty. Why, I asked him, do you stay with Saab?
His answer: “I owe everything I have to Saab. Saab has paid for all of this here in the past many years, my house, my master's house. That is why we stay with Saab ”.
That speaks for Saab. That's loyalty. There is nothing to add.