I stopped by my Favorite independent smart center yesterday with my trailer in tow to see what the news was from smart center Milwaukee.
The news was defiantly not good.
AS I approached I could see an empty lot at the smart center and 2 smarts in the tower.
Next door in the former Hummer dealer, now Fiat Studio was a parking lot flooded with 500's.
I pulled up to the smart center around 12:30 on a Saturday. Building still had a smart ED in it and that was it. In the service bay was one car with service being finished up.
So here is the story. Bergstrom really would like to keep smart, but knows it is not even really up to Penske, it's MB USA's call. But that call will not be made official until June. So they canceled all incoming order mid Feb when the word came out that the independent dealers will lose the franchise.
The entire staff, Tony in sales, Kyle and Eric in Service, and Ryan the Brand Manager are all moved over to the new Fiat Studio. No one has lost a job.
Ryan is now the Studio Manager.
Tony now sells the 500's as well as the last few smarts and has some additional folks to help out.
The Service Guys were supposed to move over to the Fiat Studio and put in a little time over at the smart center taking care of customers needs.
The way it currently works is the service guys have a full schedule at the smart center and nothing to do over at Fiat. Why would anyone need service already at Fiat?
They will soon be moving next door full time and closing the doors and moving the equipment to the Fiat service Garage. They will still happily take care of our needs over there for regular Service and Extended Warranty work. They soon will no longer be able to do smart Factory service once the contract is terminated with smart USA. But they do want owners to know they will still work on the cars happily over at Fiat.
Unfortunately the customer list is intellectual property of smart USA and therefor will be turned over to MB USA. They can not call or e-mail or write their customers to let them know that they can go next door and get service. They want to but are not allowed to.
I am sure things in Minneapolis are quite screwed up as well and with Lake Bluff being MIA for over a year now this part part of the country is really a big Void for smart. You Currently can not Buy a new smart in WI
The Folks in Milwaukee were a great bunch, they gave great customer service, They had Perfect 100% Customer satisfaction in sales and Service. The Service Pricing was Fair and never inflated. They went buy the book for recommendations and sometimes would even let you know if you didn't really need that brake fluid change at 20K if you were only 1 year into ownership, thus keeping the customers cost of ownership low.
They still want your service Business. They want to take care of the customers. They really wish they were still selling smarts side by side with the 500's. The two cars compliment each other quite well. Especially with Gas prices at $4 a gallon.
Now remember, Bergstrom is a company that goes full in and commits to the brands they pick up. They spent the money in the past for the Big Building with the Giant H, the test track, and the service lifts purpose built for Hummers.
They built a LEED Silver building for the smart brand with tiny service bays and a Tower that unfortunately only a smart would fit into, The 500's are 1.5' to long to fit into the elevator.
The Hummer building is now a Fiat studio complete with Hummer Lifts and enough room in the service bay to hold 500 and smart races. They spent the money on all the special required upgrades including Italian Tile.
It's is sad to see the smart building that was so purpose built get mothballed for no fault of the staff or Bergstrom.
Please stop by some time and say hello to the folks you have learned to trust with your cars. I'm sure they will appreciate it