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Discussion Starter #1
So what do you think is behind all of these dealer closings? General downturn in the US auto market or is it something specific to Lotus?

HRM/Austin/Sacramento...
 

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While the economy has had some impact, much of what you are seeing is poor planning or bad business practice. While I respect those that have a different opnion than mine, there is NO REASON a well managed, pro-active, properly planned Lotus franchise can't make money even in this economy. I've personally run the numbers and had them reviewed by several financial advisors. It works. But it takes commitment and dedication which is seriously lacking from many organizations. There is a general misunderstanding of the brand and the community and this is what is fueling the general downturn in the network. Dealers can not sit back and simply take orders anymore. they need to understand the buyers, their needs, their interests and react to them. The dealers have forgotten, on the whole, that they are here to serve the owners. There are some select dealers which really stand out right now like Fox, Melloy, BMC, Smith, Hopewell, to name a few.

The other problem is matching Lotus with Lamborghini and Ferrari Dealers is a mistake. Wrong attitude. Wrong buyers. These brands do not compliment eachother and the way those franchises are set up, it simply leads to angry salespeople who don't "make enough" on Lotus to be bothered. The Owners don't want to spend the money to stock any cars or commit the staff in service to support the owner base. Just a bad combo.

In order to be successful you need an operational team (managers) that know the brand, the community, the cars and can dedicate themselves to the ownership base full time. Just because a dealership can sell 300 Hondas a month does not mean they are a good match for Lotus. There is an entirely different mentality required to sell Lotus. If the average Lotus buyer goes into a dealership and is treated like a Civic buyer, they'll go buy a Z4 Coupe or Cayman instead.

Lotus should be taking advantage of this market with inflated fuel prices and I see a general lack of commitment in achieving the goal.
 

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My opinion FWIW, Lotus is not the type of brand that can sustain itself with just the current models and although some dealers did in '04/'05 with the introduction of the Elise, that was sort of anomaly. :shrug:

What happened to dealers who've departed have little to do with the economy and more to do with bad business practices, dealers located in areas where there shouldn't be a Lotus franchise and dealers who were simply bad to begin with. :confused:

LCU has had 4 different GM's (actually 3 if you count the first and current as being the same) and if Lotus/Proton would have paid attention to him and his realistic plan of what numbers to bring to the US, some dealers would still be here but over the years, different personnel have been successful in running the company amok...very familiar isn't it? :rolleyes:

If you look at it now, the first GM was pretty much spot on. He said that the first three model years for the U.S. they'd sell about 5K cars which he was within a few cars of that goal...pretty amazing if you ask me. Also, any new Lotus franchise dealer should have to be affiliated with other new car franchises and not just a stand alone dealer...makes alot of sense as this helps offset the over head. :)

Unfortunately, this is not what occured and over the years, the revolving doors of LCU personnel would grant franchises to pretty much anyone who applied and I need not mention names as it's apparent by some of the new dealers that sprouted up out of no where and made you...or at least made me go :huh:

Regardless, it seems like Lotus is finally back on track with the right man at the helm and with new models around the corner, the future of Lotus in the U.S. seems bright. :clap: and I'm sure we'll hear other franchises closing down for whatever reason but if I had to guess, I think Lotus prefers it that way to allow the opportunity to replace it with a possibly better one. :wave:
 

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While the economy has had some impact, much of what you are seeing is poor planning or bad business practice. While I respect those that have a different opnion than mine, there is NO REASON a well managed, pro-active, properly planned Lotus franchise can't make money even in this economy. I've personally run the numbers and had them reviewed by several financial advisors. It works. But it takes commitment and dedication which is seriously lacking from many organizations. There is a general misunderstanding of the brand and the community and this is what is fueling the general downturn in the network. Dealers can not sit back and simply take orders anymore. they need to understand the buyers, their needs, their interests and react to them. The dealers have forgotten, on the whole, that they are here to serve the owners. There are some select dealers which really stand out right now like Fox, Melloy, BMC, Smith, Hopewell, to name a few.

The other problem is matching Lotus with Lamborghini and Ferrari Dealers is a mistake. Wrong attitude. Wrong buyers. These brands do not compliment eachother and the way those franchises are set up, it simply leads to angry salespeople who don't "make enough" on Lotus to be bothered. The Owners don't want to spend the money to stock any cars or commit the staff in service to support the owner base. Just a bad combo.

In order to be successful you need an operational team (managers) that know the brand, the community, the cars and can dedicate themselves to the ownership base full time. Just because a dealership can sell 300 Hondas a month does not mean they are a good match for Lotus. There is an entirely different mentality required to sell Lotus. If the average Lotus buyer goes into a dealership and is treated like a Civic buyer, they'll go buy a Z4 Coupe or Cayman instead.

Lotus should be taking advantage of this market with inflated fuel prices and I see a general lack of commitment in achieving the goal.
:bow: Well said :clap:

Someone who understands buyers in the Miata/S2000/Z4/Cayman background. Or put it another way - someone who knows how to sell to 2-seater enthusiasts who has between $45k to $60k to burn ;)

From reading most of your posts, you, wallabyguy, is one such person. Not many others out there like yourself. Sad.

But to be fair, the market for a car like Elise is small, even if the market for 2-seater is big. However, it's nothing that good public education(read marketing and targeting) couldn't solve.
 

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+1 on what Wallabyguy and Firme said.

Also, Lotus would have been in a better position if the Eagle could have been introduced last year with deliveries starting this year as opposed to trying to milk the very niche market of the Elise/Exige. But on the other hand, I'm not sure if the reasons for the delays are valid.
 

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A lot of the dealers have a really crappy service attitude especially if it's warranty and you're not coughing up 300 for an oil change. Having to worry about a new car in warranty breaking and begging to get scheduled in, get a loaner and fixed is a pain and doesn't reflect the price tag of a 50-60K car. My 30K Mazda RX-8 had a much easier service experience at any dealer. Drop it off, they give you a loaner no questions asked and it's ready in a day or two. Of course some dealers are also really great, attentive and actually call you back when you leave them a voicemail. It's a total crapshoot it seems.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think another reason is the lack of good financing/lease rates and programs. I have convinced so many friends as to how nice the Elise is but once they find out that they can't lease it or get a simple east factory finance plan they drop the idea.
 

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Just because a dealership can sell 300 Hondas a month does not mean they are a good match for Lotus. .
So what are you saying? -poke-
Besides it was 500 not 300 :D
 

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Pairing Lotus with brands like Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Lamborghini has always confused me as well. You're attracting a buyer who probably doesn't have a boat-load of money to salespeople who are accustomed to people who do. It's a complete mismatch.



Maybe they thought people with a lot of money would buy a Lotus as a second or third sports car because it's relatively affordable?
 

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So who else thinks that it's time for Wallabyguy to put the plan in motion and open Lotus of New England? You know the business, the market, the product, and the customers. You have the passion for the product, have had the unique opportunity to learn from other's mistakes, and probably have enough contacts in the finance business to get it done too. You only live once, right :).
 

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We do :clap:

So who else thinks that it's time for Wallabyguy to put the plan in motion and open Lotus of New England? You know the business, the market, the product, and the customers. You have the passion for the product, have had the unique opportunity to learn from other's mistakes, and probably have enough contacts in the finance business to get it done too. You only live once, right :).
 

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Also, Lotus would have been in a better position if the Eagle could have been introduced last year with deliveries starting this year as opposed to trying to milk the very niche market of the Elise/Exige.
Allan,

Lotus is not trying to milk the Elise/Exige market as they understand that it is what it is and it's the reason why production has been scaled down EVERY year.

I'm sure that if they could, they'd have Eagle by now but, you simply can't come out with a concept and put it into production without PLENTY of R & D and to be quite honest, I think Lotus have done a TREMENDOUS job from concept to production as no one knew or even heard about the Eagle 2 years ago so in my opinion, they're moving quickly.
 

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Pick up a Top Gear magazine or some European or British car magazine. Lotus advertises in the UK - they have entry level versions - they lease, have their own financing, have an after market and accessories. They are involved in the car culture and shows (Goodwood, the Hethel anniversary opening, track days, driving schools, etc.)

Lotus USA is miserable. Bull Run? Holy Sh*t Exige advertisements? JVC nav promotions? It's weak. What happened to the big announcement a few years ago about a higher profile of Lotus Sport in the US? I haven't seen it. They made such a big deal out of that then. It is like Lotus USA makes a poor effort to advance their portfolio here and just seems to take things for granted.

I know I have heard about Arnie coming back and all the things Mike Kimberly is going to set strait - but I am still not seeing it. This is now almost July and what is Lotus doing to push the Elise SC - where is the in house SC upgrade that was rumored years ago? What are they doing to promote the Exige S and 240 package? What about the 2-11?

So, for whatever it is worth, my belief is part of the blame goes to Lotus. It isn't the product - die hards and enthusiasts like us are sold on the product - its how they reach others and the main stream - it's how they market and operate - it is a poorly run business model. Rather than go to the most outlandish degree to deny a warranty claim (and then put a feature like Launch Control on the 240S) they need to be building relations with current owners, supporting them and the community they do have enthusiastic about the product. This is not only free advertising but the best promotion. Lotus needs to get on the ball in the US - especially in an economy like this if they don't want to do what Fiat and Alpha and others have had to do years ago.

And Robert, I respect your opinion on this but why do you think Lotus dealers shouldn't be combined with upscale Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati dealerships? I think the overhead and customer profile is more compatible than Honda or Chevrolet? A Lamborghini owner expects specialized service that seems to be befitting of Lotus's uniqueness - kind of like Mini and BMW are together. I would hate to see mechanics who handle Cobalts and Civics trying to figure out how Elise/Exige trailing arms and oil cooler lines.
 
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