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How do you survive as a new car dealer?-brands Opel parent company General

A family from the Uckermark buys a Dogde Ram. Before the new owners leave the yard with the huge pick-up, they get it from the car seller and the owner of the Autohauses Kramm hands over a bottle of champagne

Source: Jakob Hoff

The cars in Germany are getting older and the new car has had its day as a status symbol. How do you survive as a car dealer? By throwing brand loyalty overboard. A visit to the Kramm dealership.

I.At the Kramm dealership this Friday morning the champagne will be fetched from the fridge. It’s wet and cold outside – not a nice day to buy a new car. But here at Kramm in the northeast of Berlin they got rid of one, and a really big one.

A reason to celebrate, but the champagne bottle stays closed for the time being: “For at home, not for on the go!”, Sven Bartsch-Jurgens warned his customers sternly and hands over the champagne.

Everyone laughs, the smart car salesman with the messy hair and the fashionable scarf was just playing the traffic cop. "So, and now we will show you the car from above and below." Bartsch-Jurgens swings into the cockpit to explain all the buttons and controls of the new car.

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Car is actually the wrong word. Because the Dodge Ram 1500, which is about to roll from the yard of the dealership, is more of a truck: With a length of six meters and a bulldozer front, the Ram is the monster among pick-ups and puts even large SUVs in the shade.

It is said that the Germans are hardly interested in new cars. Studies show that your own car has lost much of its importance as a status symbol. Young people in particular prefer to play on their smartphones rather than worrying about cars.

Those who want to be mobile use car sharing services or take the train, especially in big cities like Berlin. This puts the classic car dealership under pressure: it threatens to become obsolete – just like department stores and electronics stores.

The old Ford Ranger was traded in

People like the Lubahns are the exception. They want that fat Dodge Ram, that’s why they are treated like state guests at Kramm. The family runs a horse breeding business near Pasewalk in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; you need cars that can pull something away. Now mother and son can be demonstrated the advantages of the new car in a festive ceremony.

This undoubtedly includes the trailer load, which is a maximum of 3.5 tonnes on this thick American ship, explains Steffen Lubahn, himself visibly impressed. The young farmer is 29 years old, but with his baseball cap he looks like a teenager. His new car has enough power to pull half a dozen stallions.

The Lubahns often go to tournaments, where the Ram will in future be their figurehead, explains mother Elke in a North German that makes every sentence sound down-to-earth. After all, the family has left 60,000 euros. Your loyal Ford Ranger has been retired and traded in.

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Thomas Geiger Source Thomas Geiger

Peter Kramm, owner of Autohaus Kramm, has had to reinvent himself several times over the past few years. Just selling Opel is no longer enough these days

Source: Jakob Hoff

Almost every family used to do it that way. You drove a car for four or five years – and when the first major repairs came in, you gave it to the dealer and picked up a new one. But for a few years now, Germans have not given up their cars, they are driving it longer and longer.

The vehicle fleet in Germany has reached an average age of nine years, discovered Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, professor of automotive economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen. At the same time, new car buyers are getting older: the average is 53.3 years.

"The young buyers are missing, daily permits and bargains are increasingly in demand," says Dudenhoffer. And the Internet is full of comparison portals that provide information about discounts and special conditions.

Kramm is friendly, but not imposing

Has the classic car dealership become obsolete? Peter Kramm is actually an Opel dealer. Since 1990 he has been selling the brand with the lightning bolt on the main street in Buchholz, France. When he founded the company shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was the first Opel supplier in East Berlin.

At that time the models were called Kadett and Vectra. Today Astra, Karl and Corsa are in the sales room, spick and span polished on white tiles, it smells pleasantly new. But the rush was limited this morning. It’s only full in the workshop, Kramm invited customers to fit winter tires.

The boss is still optimistic. "I can’t complain," says Peter Kramm succinctly. The owner of the dealership also wears a fashionable scarf. The 53-year-old does not live up to the cliche of the annoying car salesman, on the contrary: Kramm is friendly, but he does not impose himself.

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The fact that his company can celebrate its 25th anniversary this year is also due to the fact that he has long been doing more than just selling Opel. The businessman has come up with all kinds of ideas not only to keep existing customers, but also to win new ones. With winter tire promotions, for example. Or with the Long Night of the Car Dealerships.

This campaign has existed in Berlin for a few years to attract more people to the car dealerships. As with the Long Night of the Museums, buses are then on special duty – but they do not go to cultural events, but to car dealerships.

Most car dealers do not participate. Peter Kramm does, he thinks the Long Night is a good thing. At the last meeting in October, the sales rooms were full, he says. They used that right away to present the new Astra.

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-dealer

Car salesman Sven Bartsch-Jurgens (left) explains their new car to Elke Lubahn and her son Steffen. The two of them just bought a Dodge Ram

Source: Jakob Hoff

Oh, the new Astra. For almost 25 years, Opel has tried the Kadett’s successor, the VW Golf To make competition in the compact class. That never succeeded, the Golf always led the registration numbers. Now everything could finally be different, they hope in Russelsheim.

Volkswagen is sinking into the emissions scandal and its market share is shrinking. Meanwhile, Opel is on the upswing after a long downturn, thanks to a huge image campaign and probably better cars.

The Astra K, on ​​sale since October, seems to be the best Astra that Opel has ever built. Peter Kramm personally climbs into the cockpit for the demonstration. The new look, the neat workmanship, Kramm gently strokes the interior: "Here we have arrived in the premium segment."

Annual sales are between 17 and 21 million euros

Nevertheless, dealers like him have to offer the car at special prices in order to sell it to the people. The Kramm car dealership has the new Astra for the company’s 25th birthday at an anniversary price: “Starting at 15,590 euros” is written on an advertising panel – including ESP, air conditioning, heated exterior mirrors and hill start assist.

A dealer cannot earn much by selling a car on such terms. Peter Kramm does not want to say how high the margins are for volume models like the Astra. But he makes no secret of the fact that they went downstairs.

Other car dealers who started with him in 1990 were later bought up or went bankrupt, reports Kramm. He himself reinvented his dealership over and over again over the years. This is the only way to keep the annual turnover constant; according to Kramm, it is between 17 and 21 million euros.

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-brands Opel parent company General

If you want to survive, you have to be flexible. Car dealership owner Kramm has expanded its range: With Chevrolet and Cadillac, two brands of the Opel parent company General Motors have been added. To them he sells Peugeot and Dodge

Source: Jakob Hoff

In addition to Opel, he was constantly building new pillars. This includes a type-open workshop, a used car dealership, and a second branch in the Karow district of Berlin. This was followed by a breakdown and towing service in cooperation with the ADAC.

In addition, Kramm has expanded its range: With Chevrolet and Cadillac, two brands of the Opel parent company General Motors were added. Kramm is also a contractual partner for Peugeot, and recently Dodge have also been on the farm. In terms of branding, it’s a balancing act, because Dodge is owned by Chrysler, GM’s arch-rival.

How does that work together? Well, the customers just asked if he could get pick-ups, says Peter Kramm. “So let’s do it now.” He calls his concept “Full Service”: The customer is king, and if enough customers ask about Kawasaki or quad bikes, Kramm might add them to the range too.

Customers asked for pick-ups, so we got pick-ups.

Peter Kramm, car dealer

With its 62 employees, Autohaus Kramm GmbH is a rather small company. There are much bigger ones in the capital, but they don’t want to talk to the press. The management of Renault Konig declined an interview, as did the Dinnebier Group, which with Ford, Opel, Kia, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover in its portfolio, impressively proves that brand loyalty means little.

Anyone who used to drive a certain brand, regardless of whether it was a Mercedes, VW or Opel, often remained loyal to it for a lifetime. It doesn’t exist anymore. “People don’t feel tied to a certain brand,” says Sven Bartsch-Jurgens, Brand Manager for Chevrolet and Cadillac at Autohaus Kramm.

It is more important to get as much car as possible for as little money as possible. Golf or Kadett were once bread-and-butter vehicles, the basic equipment of which offered practically no extras. Today even the puniest small cars are crammed full of high-tech, and without air conditioning, even used cars are considered unsaleable. “Nobody here buys a Corsa without air conditioning,” says Bartsch-Jurgens.

Service checkbook is treated like treasure

Despite generous discounts, the classic car dealerships are often left behind in the bargain hunt. Customers first go to service masters like Kramm and spend two hours explaining why Astra, Corsa or Adam are great cars.

And then they drive home and look on the Internet to see where the car can still be bought. "Then it’s all about the price," says car salesman Bartsch-Jurgens.

But there are still regular customers like Hans-Joachim Schulenburg. “I’ve been driving here since the fall of the Wall,” says the tall pensioner, emotionless, as if there were nothing more boring than cars. First he came to the workshop with his cadet, and later with his Vectra.

Schulenburg bei Kramm bought a new Meriva eleven years ago, and the car has now covered 90,000 kilometers. It was never left lying around, which says a lot about the quality of Opel, says Schulenburg. He drives diligently to the inspection, today he has the battery replaced and winter tires fitted.

The perfect gifts for petrolheads

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Source Thomas Geiger Source Thomas

1 of 10

Toys for Dads: MO-TO is a series of incredibly cool toy cars from Candylab. The models are reminiscent of the era of muscle cars and are wu because of their reduced formsChangeable design objects with game character. Dimensions: length 18.3 cm x width 7.3 cm x height 5 cm. Price: around 25 euros.

Source: candylabtoys.com

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Thomas Geiger Source Thomas Geiger

2 of 10

Headwear for notorious open-top drivers: the chic bobble hat with a Norwegian look comes from the Berlin fashion dealers and petrolheads sourkrauts.de. Price: 29.90 euros.

Source: sourkrauts.de

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-dealer

3 of 10

A feast for the eyes and ears for Porsche enthusiasts: the “Porsche Sounds” illustrated book presents stories, data and technical details as well as interesting facts about Porsche’s racing and rally successes. Und: The original engines of the most famous models can be heard from the CD supplied – simply “Porsche Sounds”. The illustrated book was published by Edel Verlag and costs 49.90 euros.

Source: Verlag Edel

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-survive

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The emergency roof for small roadsters: the convertible double umbrella above the cockpit protects against storms, sun, rain and dust winds. Vintage driver. However, you shouldn’t drive with itht. Price: 39.90 euros.

Source: Vintagedriver

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-survive

5 out of 10

Unmistakable: Danish Fuel restores old stainless steel army canisters by hand and turns them into travel trolleys. Exactly what petrolheads need when traveling. Load: 20 kilos, price: 468 euros.

Source: danish-fuel.dk

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Source Thomas Geiger Source Thomas

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This era of motorsport was wild, the photos in the photo book “Gasoline and Magic” are authentic and intimate. Published by Edition Patrick Frey, price: 54 euros.

Source: Edition Patrick Frey

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Source Thomas Geiger Source Thomas Geiger

7 of 10

Archaic: The artist Jesco von Puttkamer produces these small "toys" by hand from leftovers from industrial production and other metal goods. Small series from greatgen vehicles with nice, slow running spring mechanism, which impress with their simplicity. Not for small children, but there are also big children. Price: between 30 and 80 euros.

Source: handmade-by-puttkamer.de

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-brands Opel parent company General

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Bond Street: 007 drives his Aston Martin DB10 with you in “Specter” – the model is called “Fleming”, comes from Dents and costs 99 pounds, the equivalent of 140 euros.

Source: Bond Lifestyle / Dents

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Source Thomas Geiger Source Thomas Geiger

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Luxury on the go: the Aston Martin picnic basket is exclusive and expensive. This wonderful extra was created in collaboration with Grant MacDonald. Price: 2950 pounds so the equivalent of around 4,000 euros

Source: Grant Macdonald

How do you survive as a new car dealer?-Thomas Geiger Source Thomas Geiger

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The tools roll along at the top, the chilled beer at the bottom: with the workshop trolley including refrigerator from Gastro-Cool, screwing in the workshop is twice as much fun. Price: 216 Euro – the woman in the overalls is not included in the price.

Source: gastro-cool.de

Actually, it would be time to sell a new car to Schulenburg: For example the new Meriva with parking aid and reversing camera. But sometimes the “full service” that the dealership offers backfires: the customers cherish and care for their cars until they can no longer part with them.

Hans-Joachim Schulenburg has long since ceased to be interested in the glossy brochures that are on display at Kramm and that advertise new models. But only for the workshop intervals of his old Meriva.

What others have in the glove compartment, the pensioner guards like a treasure at home. The service checkbook: After every new stamp, it goes back to the safe.

Peter Kramm, car dealer

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