GM gives Mr. Goodwrench a pink slip

General Motors opts instead for separately branded 'certified service' for its Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC lines.

By InvestorPlace Nov 9, 2010 10:33AM

Car Trouble © Getty ImagesThere have been a lot of changes at General Motors since its 2009 bankruptcy filing, subsequent government bailout and current plans for an IPO. In less than two years the company has shed 900 dealers, about a dozen auto plants and a number of brands, including Pontiac, Hummer, Saab and Saturn.

 

Though GM has purportedly pulled out of its tailspin and claims it has returned to profitability, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still big changes in the works. The latest business division on the chopping block is the car’s dealer service brand.

 

That’s right, after 37 years, Mr. Goodwrench is getting a pink slip.

 

The fictional mechanic, a symbol of GM's repair and maintenance divisions since the 1970s, will be rebranded Feb. 1 in favor of "certified service" divisions for each of GM's remaining remaining nameplates: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

The marketing ploy is intended to connect the brands with their customers and hopefully provide an uptick in service revenue for the automaker and its related dealerships.

The move is coupled with a push for more service training and a renewed effort to improve customer satisfaction and keep motorists returning to dealers for repairs and tuneups. And more importantly, the branded service departments are meant to build a relationship with car buyers and keep them loyal when it comes time to purchase some new wheels. Post continues after video:
But the real question is whether it will actually move the needle or is just change the illusion of progress for the once-dominant auto brand.

It’s true that in these tough economic times motorists are driving older cars longer and the demand for parts and service has increased dramatically. Just look at auto parts stocks -- AutoZone (AZO) is up 53% year to date and just reported its fiscal-fourth-quarter same-store sales increased a hefty 7%, while Advanced Auto Parts (AAP) is up 63% so far in 2010 and saw its fiscal-second-quarter earnings leap 40%!


But at its core, this trend is a move toward being more frugal, and pricey dealership service may be passed over for cheaper repairs performed at local shops.

 

And as for brand loyalty, that seems to be a bit of a myth in the current economic environment. Most cash-strapped consumers are looking for the best deals and best value right now, and that’s true for all items, from dishsoap to dishwashers.

 

The reality is that in the short term, the loss of Mr. Goodwrench probably won’t pay dividends. The branding move appears to be little more than posturing for the upcoming GM stock IPO.

 

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56Comments
Nov 9, 2010 1:30PM
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hey carzar:  I agree with fdmarshall.  I have had nothing but poor service for my pontiac solstice GXP.  19 trips mulitple issues (32 appx)  multiple return visits and even the regional rep didn't want to get involv ed in the repetative SES Light issue.  All during warranty.  Poor training poor service lack of initiative and lack of support from GM itself to the dealers.  it all spell a poor company and product. one more SES light and the Lemon law will prevail. 

Attorney is on standby now.  Even GM upper level support has taken an "oh well, we'll get it fixed someday attitude" hoping i sell it or waiting for the warranty to expire

Nov 9, 2010 12:29PM
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I hope they do something to improve their service!  I have never had a good experience with any GM dealer.  Overpriced, to long to service, poor mechanic's, return visits to fix initial problem
Nov 9, 2010 2:00PM
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Yep - let us all hope GM goes under.  Never mind all the jobs that will go with it.  Never mind all the money those employees would have spent to help the economy.

Appears that many morons want to destroy Obama so bad that they are willing for the country to slide deeper in the recession.

Are these the same morons who diss Obama and the Democrats for not creating more jobs?  Time for these morons to consider how many jobs they saved by not allowing GM to go under.

Nov 9, 2010 4:56PM
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Kia isn't building cars in a sweatshop. They're building them in Georgia, just like Ford does. And Toyota is building cars in Kentucky, just like (Yep, you guessed it...) Ford does. In neither case are the employees crying about being enslaved by their employer.

 

Without a doubt, unions had a time and place. The problem is that the time has since passed. My father was a Teamster and shop steward. He actively worked to get them into non-union companies, with some success. Even he thinks the unions have outlived their usefulness.

 

As for the video being on a FOX affiliate, it doesn't matter who caught them. The facts back up their assertion. Chalk one up for FOX. Too bad the other guys couldn't get off their backsides long enough to beat 'em to it...

Nov 9, 2010 1:51PM
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I find it hard to believe anyone would work as a gm mechanic for 37 years anyway.  I bet he could tell some good stories if he was real.  Like trying to upsell at least 2 hours of labor on every repair job (even on oil changes)  Also how hard it was to make enough hours to hit your guarentee wages.  After working in gm garages for 10 years I quit the auto business altogether. Hell, I even bought a Ford which has only had 1 warranty repair in 50,000 miles.  Don't even get me started on them killing Oldsmobile and Pontiac.  I doubt if I will ever buy another generous motors vehicle
Nov 9, 2010 3:58PM
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I couldn't have said it better than txmechanic. As A 27 year dealer technician who is also world class certified, I have had more than my share of undoing well intentioned but shoddy repairs from installers of Chinese parts. As long as there are dealers, there will always be a need for trained, skilled technicians who are also very decent people. If every technician walked off their job today by the end of the year the entire world's economy  would be completely devastated beyond repair.  That alone tells me good technicians are invaluable. txmechanic, why don't you give it another year? Every dog has his day.Smile
Nov 9, 2010 3:22PM
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GM built cars with substandard components for years. i worked for saturn for 12 1/4 years till i was laid off. the good old s-car is an icon. it's a durable little car . gm training is a joke. it's over a live satelite feed. when the 3.6 came out for the aura and outlook the morons who were instructors couldn't even put one on when the engine was on a stand. pre 05 saturn training was at spring hill tenn.it was live hands on training. we used to stay at the nashville sheraton .it actually trained the techs not a sateelit feed with a bunch of dummies directing it.our gm paid saturn engineers used to joke about how gm saves a buck using substandard electronics and components.
Nov 9, 2010 2:20PM
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The Auto Worker Union has destroyed the American auto industry going back into the late 60's. It has all caught up them! Paying people for incompetence, less work and unstainable benfits has caused this!  
Nov 9, 2010 2:06PM
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 I just wanted to say that as far as service to there customers and relaibility of there vehicles . Nothing has changed. I bought a chevy from a supposedly reputable dealership 3 months ago a 2007 that according to them had been thoughly inspected for problems. Since the vehicles has been back in there 3 times. During witch time i witnessed a service writer call a custumer a mf. And was hung up on numerous times by there service department when trying to get service on the vehicle that I should not have been having to get worked in the first place. What chevy has done is dressed the same old crap up into a multimillion dollar advertisement campaign . And for the most part it has worked. But you can expect the same old sameold from them . Great service before the sale then a good boot out the door with a piece of crap. Abd also there getting rid of MR  goodwrench becuase the name goes along with terrible service in previous gm owners minds.
Nov 9, 2010 12:37PM
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I love my Saturn. Wish it wasn't a dinosaur.
Nov 9, 2010 2:20PM
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I bought my GMC Duramax 4yrs ago, the product is excellent but I will never go to GM for service, they suck!! My initial service after 6mos they reflashed my computer & robbed me of 50 horsepower &10 mpg, all verified by dyno test, apparently they have an internal program to detune your vehicle until it runs like **** & you want to trade it in, here's the tip, buy it & never return for service, find a good shop not affiliated with GM, I had to chip my truck to get the power & mileage back & I've never had a problem since up yours GM !!! 
Nov 10, 2010 8:31PM
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Just for the record, the Cruze IS NOT a rebranded Cobalt. They are completely different platforms and the design and engineering teams responsible for the two platforms were different. The use of the Cruze name in the North American market is simply a continuation of the platform's name on the global market. The Cruze has been introduced around the world before coming here. Ours is built in Lordstown, Ohio, BTW...
Nov 10, 2010 10:26AM
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Investing is GM right now is the wrong thing for everyone.  Current management ran the Automaker into the ground.  Sold or diversified operations to fund their sell cars at all cost.  And now GM is trashing more of their profit centers by taking down Goodwrench, instead of dismantling Goodwrench they need to be expanding and selling franchises for the service to cover the autos that are out their in locations not supported by auto dealers.  Rebranding Cobalt as the Cruze with a smart radio is a disaster.
Nov 9, 2010 8:18PM
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Don't get me wrong, I'm all for buying American when it's a competitive product. However, I (as well as many others) am not going to "hold my nose" and buy an American stinker. For far too long American business depended on people doing just that. That's why they're having so much trouble convincing potential buyers that they've really made themselves competitive. There are quite a few examples that they've succeeded, but perception is everything. You know the saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Lots of people are wary of being living examples.

 

The Chinese people are the best customers that the Buick brand has. More Buicks are sold in China than the rest of the world combined. In fact, the growth in exports of American-made cars is far outpacing imports. I hope it grows exponentially. Foreign buyers aren't trying to get over the "buyer's remorse" that so many Americans are.

 

As for my business, I get paid by both domestic and foreign companies. As long as they pay the bill on time, they're keeping me and my employees fed, clothed and housed. I've never had anyone ask me where their paycheck came from, and I don't expect it will happen anytime soon.

 

Oh, and my business and its jobs cannot be exported, whether it's an import or an export. That means we're doing our bit (either way) to bring in that much more foreign currency to our shores. I call it a "win, win" situation. I wouldn't complain if it was more export, than import, though...

Nov 9, 2010 5:20PM
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So if KIA and Toyota assemble a couple of cars in the US employing a very small handful of americans it's ok to buy their cars and send your money to their country? It's not an american company. This is not just about supporting the american car builder but, all american workers because those same people support YOUR business. If they have no money to spend because all of their jobs went overseas or south of the border it effects EVERYBODY.  When was the last time that a family from Japan or China got on an airplane, flew to the United States to shop at your store or eat at your restaurant in the small town that you live in? Probably never. People like to complain about the economy but, never stop to think about where something came from or who made it before you buy it. BUY AMERICAN, SUPPORT ALL AMERICAN WORKERS.
Nov 9, 2010 4:37PM
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Just saw Chrysler thing, what a surprise it was on fox news. Put cameras in asian sweat shop factories and  see 10 year old kids building cars for KIA and Toyota making 25 cents an hour for a car you are stupid enough to pay 30k for.
Nov 9, 2010 4:23PM
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Raysawzzzt said: "Did you see the piece on the Chrysler union workers a couple of weeks ago? About how they spend their lunch hours? Drinking and doping it up!!!!! Then going back to work and building quality American cars."

 

Capt. America83 responded: "If you believe that crap then you must still believe in Santa Clause"

 

I, just one of many, believe it. Take a look at this... www . autoblog . com /2010/09/23/ chrysler-uaw-employees-work-hard-play-hard-bus

Nov 9, 2010 3:54PM
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You can buy the best built, best engineered car in the world and it still won't last if you don't do the maintenance.  sold a car to a lady once and she returned it 2 months later because it needed a belt changed. Imagine 12 years old with 160 k and it needed a belt. Idiots all cars today are basically the same, and if you buy new you get screwed.
Nov 9, 2010 3:49PM
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I remembered when they rolled out Mr. Goodwrench. I never understood the whole thing. Why not call yourself Mr. GREATwrench? Just good....I guess is just good enough?
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