'Project Pinnacle': Cadillac Promises a New Sales Experience, but Dealers Are Wary

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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project pinnacle cadillac promises a new sales experience but dealers are wary

It’s D-Day, so what better time to dish details on Cadillac’s secretive Project Pinnacle?

The luxury automaker plans to completely revamp how its dealers interact with customers — a strategy that even changes how its salespeople dress, according to a draft document obtained by Automotive News.

Under Project Pinnacle — the brainchild of brand president Johan de Nysschen — U.S. dealers will be grouped into five tiers based on expected sales. When the operation kicks off on October 1, car shoppers can expect a higher-end experience at their local Caddy dealership. Get ready to be coddled.

The strategy is part of the same brand overhaul that saw Cadillac open an artsy coffee shop in lower Manhattan last week. De Nysschen launched a similar project when he ran Audi of America.

After all, who wants to be served by a Chevrolet salesperson when you’re shopping for a Cadillac?

Under the plan, top dealers with annual sales of 700 or more will offer customers concierge pickup and drop-off for sales and service customers. Second-tier outfits will add a Cadillac greeter counter, while those on lower rungs will see the addition of a certified Cadillac technology expert, dedicated websites, and tablet use during service inspections.

The controversial part of the plan has to do with dealers’ individual sales targets, which spells out what compensation they can expect from the automaker. Instead of being able to count on a stable flow of cash from the automaker, dealers are now being told they’ll need to earn it. Under the plan, maximum margins increase to 14 percent of sticker price, up from 12.6 percent, with bonuses paid to dealers who meet their targets.

It’s easy to see why some dealers aren’t too keen on the project. Besides the added cost of offering a high-end experience, dealers face financial risk if they don’t meet their sales targets. Moving up a tier for a bigger potential payout means taking on even more cost, with no guarantee of a return on their investment.

“They’re asking us to take on a lot more overhead to make less money,” one Northeast dealer told Automotive News.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Skor Skor on Jun 08, 2016

    One of Cadillac's biggest problems is the average age of new Cadillac buyers....third oldest of any car brand. Cadillac is desperately trying to keep the oxygen bottle, Depends® crowd away from their cars. I know the geezer across the street....hardcore Cadillac buyer....will not drive more than 20 miles for repair/service and will not have anything to do with 'virtual' sales.

  • Redapple Redapple on Sep 07, 2016

    DeadWeight is back! DeadWeight is Back! Sound the bells ! I don t know who I enjoy reading more. DW or Peter DeLorenzo. Melanie is mad at you.

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