Mumbai/New Delhi: Days after General Motors Corp. (GM) filed for bankruptcy in the US, its car dealers in India are busy dousing the fire.
Soon after the announcement on Monday, General Motors India Pvt. Ltd began working on a campaign that will unfold this week and reassure customers. Meanwhile, several of its dealers are reaching out to buyers to reinforce their faith in the brand.
“Ever since the news broke about the bankruptcy filing we have been calling customers from our database to ensure there’s no panic,” said Sameer Pardesi, sales manager at Pune-based Shreyans Automobiles.
GM India has said the local operations do not come under the bankruptcy filing and it would continue to offer warranty and customer support services. The firm sells the Chevrolet Tavera, U-VA, Optra, Spark and Captiva brands in India and has at least 200 sales and service points. On Friday, the company will launch a new variant of its compact car Spark in New Delhi. The India arm, faced with an uphill task in retaining customers and attracting newer ones, has unfolded a marketing communication campaign with its central theme as “We are there for you; there for India”. It also plans to distribute badges with a similar theme to staff at its dealerships.
Reinstating faith: General Motors is circulating a video among dealers and suppliers featuring India chief executive Karl Slym, reassuring everyone that it’s business as usual for the firm’s India operations. Prashanth Vishwanathan / Bloomberg
“We will be unveiling a print campaign later this week, which is aimed at assuring the customers,” said Ankush Arora, vice-president of sales, marketing and aftersales at GM India. The company is also stationing key people at several of its dealerships to provide requisite support. Additionally, it is launching nine mega service camps across key metros.
“It’s better over and done with,” says Rajan Mehra, owner of Triumph Motors, a GM dealership in Delhi. Mehra said his two dealerships in the capital region averaged about 15 walk-in customers a day. On Tuesday, that number dropped to 11 but more on account of a holiday in Wazirpur, where his second dealership is.
Sandeep Soni, who walked into a GM dealership in New Delhi on Wednesday, said he got good feedback on Chevrolet Spark but was apprehensive after the bankruptcy filing.
In the fiscal ended 31 March, GM India sold 61,526 cars in the country, down 7.5% from the previous year.
Praveen Aggarwal, who owns a GM dealership, said the car maker is circulating a video among dealers and suppliers featuring Karl Slym, GM India’s chief executive. In the video, Aggarwal said, Slym reassures everyone that it’s business as usual for the firm’s India operations.
Marketing experts say that during a crisis such as the one GM is going through, public relations more than advertising can drive the message home. “Advertising is a weaker force for turning your mind away from bad news and stronger one when turning (it) towards goods news,” said Kiran Khalap of Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based brand consulting firm.