The following was sent in via email from AJ Murphy, General Manager of Just Saab, a dealership in Cincinnati, Ohio.
It’s no surprise to anyone that has followed the Saab business for the last couple of years that we are an easy target in the media. Often there are biased, personal feelings dominating articles and commentary. Understandably expected by the ‘blogs’ but it’s now creeping into the more established, well-respected outlets that you expect to get factual, balanced reporting from.
Saab is not for everyone. No question. We don’t sell a lot of cars…even in our heyday we were considered a minor player in the market.
Our labels have been many: Irrelevant, re-badged GM products, dying, too expensive, and on and on.
I am baffled by such strong personal feelings for Saab’s demise. If Saab is not for you, fair enough. But strangely those who dislike Saab are almost drawn to us…they can’t stay away or stop talking about us. It’s almost as if they take joy in the struggles.
I responded recently to a personal tweet from an Automotive Analyst, which said:
“I’d like to pull the plug of the respirator that’s keeping Saab alive”
Then another that said:
“Can Saab please die and stop clogging my Twitter feed??”
This, coming from an industry-professional who has been quoted in a couple of different articles about the future of Saab? Seems like strange behavior but maybe I’m too thin-skinned. [Ed: You’re not. The internet has given rise to a need for many to grab as many eyeballs as possible and glib throwaway one-liners are the biggest club in the bag for many – SW]
Getting to my purpose in writing this…
I was recently quoted in an article by a widely-read industry publication with the headline, “Steady drip of bad news wears on Saab dealers”. My words were recorded accurately. But I was still left troubled by the context of the article. I’ll explain why.
The article starts off: “Starved of product and showroom traffic, some beleaguered U.S. dealers are planning for life after Saab. “
The article transitions to Saab’s current production stop and quotes from Victor Muller saying how hard he’s working to tie up the deal(s) to secure short-term funding necessary to re-start production and bridge the gap to the completion of the Pang Da and Youngman deal. Mr. Muller encourages “…we don’t need anyone to throw in the towel now.”
The article goes on to introduce various dealers expressing their many frustrations.
The purpose of this is not to dismiss fellow Saab dealers’ challenges and troubles. I have too much respect for them.
I am quoted as saying, “They (Saab) need to get production restarted and stop the blood bath on perception.” Saab DOES need to do this. Nobody would argue. I’d even go as far as to say that might be the understatement of the year. Not sure why, of all the things I said, this was quoted.
I am then quoted as saying my only buyers are Saab loyalists or those unaware of the situation. This is fairly accurate. No problem there. Also something that needs to change…and it will in time. The article then goes on to document our current sales data and historical sales data. It talks about one of our stores closing in 2009. Fair enough.
Next is where I get concerned with today’s journalistic style of reporting about Saab’s troubles.
Why no mention of my belief in Saab’s success once we get through this short-term problem? I know I said it… even more than once.
So now I’m left with an article in which I am quoted amongst other dealers who are fed up. I’m right there with my fellow dealers. I’m frustrated, annoyed, and sad to see the ‘steady drip of bad news.’ But it doesn’t mean I’m losing faith nor am I ‘planning for life after Saab.’
I was further exacerbated by Left Lane’s version of the article titled: “Saab dealers losing faith in automaker’s future.”
Sorry folks, I’m not going to sit back and accept that label.
Let me make one thing very clear: Just Saab stands behind Saab, Victor Muller, Tim Colbeck and the entire team working tirelessly to get Saab to prosperity. My faith and loyalty is as strong as ever to Saab.
If you’re looking to write a story about dealers changing brands or someone who wants to rant about how bad Saab is being run, please don’t bother calling Just Saab.
However, if you’d like to buck the trend, and write about dealers who believe Saab will pull through and once they do, will accomplish great things, please call me anytime day or night. I’m sure I can provide insightful, interesting content. Further, I have plenty of customers who would love to share their passion and reason for believing in Saab.
My challenge to the Media, blogs, auto-enthusiast publications, et al:
Write a story about those who are not leaving Saab for another brand. Write about dealers who are standing behind Saab. Write about people who love cars and are enthusiasts. After all, isn’t that what’s at the heart of any brand? Those of us with loyalty and passion. We are out there. And our voice can only have a positive impact on Saab’s image. Saab needs not only financial strength…but also the strength of support to succeed.
It’s your opportunity to introduce this rarely heard point-of-view to your readers.
Just Saab Cincinnati