Detroit Free Press,
With the Great Recession officially in the rear-view mirror, growth and economic advancement are at the top of the agenda for policy and business leaders. Planning for and pursuing such growth and advancement requires taking stock of current conditions, which is what this report does for the technology sector in Southeast Michigan.
This report provides a careful assessment of employment and industry data for the technology sector in Southeast Michigan. The data offer benchmarks of the size and nature of the region’s
technology sector relative to other metropolitan areas across the United States. These data provide measures that can be reviewed over time to assess the evolution of the technology sector in the region. They also illustrate opportunities for economic growth and advancement in Metro Detroit today.
The technology sector of the economy can be viewed as consisting of businesses that have a technical orientation and workers who have technical occupations. The businesses together form an industry, while the workers together form a workforce. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics are used in this study to assess both the industry and workforce components of the technology sector. Measures of the sector across metropolitan areas are also included to provide context to the data for Greater Detroit.
Following the termination of over 1,000 dealerships by General Motors and nearly 800 by Chrysler, federal legislation (HR 3288, Sec 747) was introduced to provide a procedure for the review of the termination decisions. The bill, signed into law on December 16 of 2009, established criteria for the arbitration process, which was organized through the American Arbitration Association. Among the criteria that arbitrators were to consider were the dealership’s profitability, economic viability, market territory, sales performance metrics, and the manufacturer’s business plan.
Seventy-three of the dealerships that pursued arbitration retained Anderson Economic Group for expert analysis in the areas of demography, geography, sales performance analysis, economic viability, and financial analyses. These dealers were located across 23 different states. Fifty-five were General Motors dealerships, and 18 were Chrysler dealerships.
We worked with each dealership to develop a plan of work that focused on the critical elements of their case. These included geographic and demographic assessments to determine if trade area’s were properly assigned, and if performance metrics accurately accounted for local market conditions. In a number of cases we also provided financial analyses to measure the economic viability of a dealership from a profitability standpoint, and to benchmark historic financial performance against an industry average. We also assessed the overall industry structure, economic conditions, and the business plans that manufacturer’s cited as reasons to support dealership terminations. In doing so we were able to illustrate inconsistencies in their positions, and demonstrate that, in many instances, the termination of dealerships was actually harmful to the manufacturer’s economic interests. We also provided consultation regarding settlement and hearing strategies, as well as rebuttal to opposing expert analyses.
Our analyses were used by dealerships to evaluate the strength of their case, to negotiate favorable settlements prior to arbitration, and in 19 cases our experts presented findings before an arbitrator. By the end of the arbitration process more than 90 percent of our clients had received favorable financial settlements, or had been reinstated as dealerships.
In response to a notice of termination and sales performance review from General Motors and ChannelVantage, a Michigan Cadillac dealership retained Anderson Economic Group (AEG) to provide an independent analysis for the dealership. The analysis specifically focused on 1) the factory’s assigned sales and service area, and 2) the methodology used to calculate the dealership’s Retail Sales Index (RSI).
To begin, we reviewed GM’s sales performance calculations and the methodology used by ChannelVantage to arrive at the dealership’s RSI score. Our Geographic Information System (GIS) was utilized to plot the location of the dealerships, its assigned Area of Geographic Sales and Service Advantage (AGSSA), nearby Cadillac dealers, and a ten-minute drive-time area from each dealer. The latter helped to identify census tracts within our client’s AGSSA that were more naturally and/or easily served by another dealer. Measuring the drive-time distances from each of center of these census tracts’ to nearby dealers aided in our revision of the assigned AGSSA. We next analyzed the demographics from the assigned AGSSA and the revised AGSSA, with a focus on variables that correlate with luxury vehicle sales, such as education levels, age, and income. We adjusted the RSI to account for our revisions to the AGSSA based on the reduction in the targeted demographic base, and a reduction in expected market share capture for the vehicle segment.
Our findings illustrated that our client had an unreasonably large market area, including over 20 census tracts that were located closer to other Cadillac dealerships. We also accounted for local demographics and customer behavior, as opposed to broad reaching assumptions based on state-level data, to estimate expected sales levels in the market. With these adjustments, we arrived at a significantly higher RSI relative to what GM determined, and used as a primary factor in termination the dealership. We compiled these findings in a report for the client, which he has shared with members of Congress while lobbying for passage of the Durbin-Hoyer bill that was enacted, and allows all terminated dealership a chance at arbitration.
This guide is for dealers that are considering participating in the arbitration process established by H.R. 3288, which was signed in to law by President Obama on December 16, 2009. It reviews the timeline and arbitration process, and the criteria that will be considered by the arbitrator. It concludes with some practical steps dealers should take as they consider whether to participate in the arbitration process.