Who says dealer meetings aren't fun? You get to do all kinds of neat things, like sheepishly face an audience of peers and show you can't follow directions.
At Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp.'s recent annual meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., Bob Dabrowski, general manager/treasurer of Keene, N.H.-based Tire Warehouse Central, spoke at a seminar titled, ``Selling tires is not enough.''
To illustrate how people often hear-and follow-directions differently, he handed a sheet of paper to volunteers, instructed them to close their eyes, then tear as directed. In the end, four of six sheets didn't look like they were supposed to. Which goes to show that tire dealers:
a.) Can't-or won't-follow directions;
b.) Are better at selling tires than tearing paper-or following directions;
c.) Can't wait for the open bar to open;
d.) Would rather be on the golf course;
e.) All of the above.
Also at that meeting, Robert Newman, director of corporate communications, told of PATC's efforts to get stories-and of course, favorable publicity-in newspapers, magazines and on TV.
He noted that last year Pirelli's famous calendar was featured on the syndicated TV program Entertainment Tonight, which reported how three top models were flown to an exotic island to ``artfully'' pose nude for the calendar. ET may do another three segments in 1994 on the limited edition ``collector's item,'' which is only given to Pirelli customers and celebrities-such as England's Prince Andrew and Spain's King Juan Carlos. The Beatles also used to get it.
The almost 5 1/2 minutes of free airtime on ET, Mr. Newman pointed out, were equivalent to more than $600,000 in paid advertising ``and pretty much all it cost us was (giving out) a few calendars.''
When Mercedes-Benz announced plans for a new plant in Vance, Ala., the state rolled out the red carpet. Giant billboards around Tuscaloosa blared, ``Guten Tag Freunde (Hey, Neighbor),'' and local papers welcomed the Germans with front-page headlines.
Trying to put some perspective on the situation, AutoWeek asked a ``local'' to rank the importance of the following events: football coach Bear Bryant's death, race driver Davey Allison's death and Mercedes-Benz coming to town.
He lit his Lucky Strike and said, ``That's about the right order, son.''
Turnabout is fair play
Jags. Great looking but historically rotten running. Except now their quality has improved-which has Jag dealers crying in their transmission fluid.
Warranty claims, for which Jaguar reimburses its dealers, have fallen 50 percent in the past year, dramatically reducing dealer service profits.
``We are losing enormous amounts of money because the cars do not come back anymore,'' said Martin Bennett of the company's dealer council. ``None of us relished the thought of losing that money, but we must sell trouble-free cars.''
They could always go back to the old system: huge service profits and dismal sales, quipped AutoWeek.
Michelin Tire Corp., based in Greenville, S.C., sent out a nice looking brochure extolling the virtues of what it is calling its ``Green Tire''-the Radial XSE.
The ecologically beneficial tire offers energy conservation, pollution reduction, with rolling resistance lowered by as much as 35 percent, the company said.
Did we mention the nice brochure? ``Printed on 100 percent recycled paper,'' said a sticker pasted on its back-sort of as an environmental afterthought.
Actress Janeane Garofalo, a regular on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, was asked by Spy magazine about her position on NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). Her reply: ``Uh, I really don't follow stock car racing much.''
From the book, The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said: ``I want to gain 1,500 or 2,000 yards, whichever comes first-George Rogers, running back for the New Orleans Saints. Take a few too many hits to the helmet, George?