Written by Victoria Espinoza
The Garden City Park-based business undertook the changes as part of General Motors’ plan to uniform its franchises, with the aim of appearing more inviting and customer-friendly, creating a look that car buyers could immediately recognize at any location, down to the reception desks and color scheme.
“There has been a very positive reaction” managing partner Michael Watson said about the changes to the service department, which now offers free WiFi, several vending machines, a coffee station, a spot for kids to play, a TV to watch and a larger, more comfortable longue.
Watson added that the dealership went beyond what General Motors’ required when it came to lighting and new tiled floors, explaining how staff members traveled to another dealership location and saw how high gloss floors showed off the vehicles in the showroom, deciding to bring this idea to their location at an added cost of $100,000.
Van Buren also renovated their auto repair and service center, replacing all interior and parking lot lights with energy-efficient LED lighting, installation of poly-grip floors for cleaner look as well as paining the center white.
Throughout the 13-month renovations, the dealership intended to stay open through renovations, but had to partition off part of the showroom, therefore limiting the number of vehicles to profile. The service department also had to be run out of a trailer during its renovations, which was where customers would have to wait while their cars were being fixed, which also meant taking in fewer cars to be serviced.
However Watson said that the biggest obstacle during their renovations was not actually anything going on inside the building, but the construction going on outside the dealership on Jericho Turnpike where state crews were repaving Route 25 this past summer, closing the sidewalks, aprons and parts of the street at different points and making the dealership less accessible.
Despite the obstacles, Watson said that Van Buren had a very good year and their sales numbers did not drop due to the renovations, which are now looked at as a huge advantage against competitors.
“We have a leg up from the other places now because we got an early start”, he said.