I was stopped today by a news article that suggested that GM would require its surviving dealerships to sign “participation agreements” governing the quality and character of their stores. The need to redesign the entire automotive retail experience is something I’ve talked about in other places, so the news that GM will require surviving dealerships to sign “participation agreements” and commit to store upgrades is good and promising news. The concept is provocative on a number of fronts, including other businesses and even communities.
These agreements seem possible when conditions of demand are present, but totally surprising in times of desperation. I assume, however, that the active ingredient in the mix here is that of government intervention, but in a catalytic sense. Indeed, in much of the commentary of opposition to the bailout, who would have expected that the company receiving the funds would put restrictive policies in place for the next level beneficiaries of the funds, rather than the lender, itself.
I thought I’d explore the idea from a couple of viewpoints. Once, certainly, within the industry itself, with the belief that the concept of participation agreements could be beneficial and influential well beyond the scope of the dealership itself. This also then evokes another viewpoint, about how communities could use participation agreements for their own sustainability and could be a great device especially in areas hard hit by the mortgage crisis. The need is cultural, social, environmental, economic and generational. The response has to be something that integrates new American manufacturing and retail values throughout.
Parenthetically, I am considering moving this blog away from the concept of “postings” to one of “discussions.” There may be a more appropriate place and form for this, But in lieu of stumbling on the way to that technology. I thought I’d use this, at least for the interim. And all of that is to suggest that whether through comments on these posts, or direct emails, I’d very much appreciate your participation and development of these themes. Watch for development of this site for new topics, developing ideas, and active conversations.