More than 300 people crowded into the Winnipeg Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram store at the Pointe West AutoPark June 8 as the dealership’s owner, Walt Morris, hosted another of his popular customer prize draws.
This was the 10th year in a row the dealership has hosted its Pluck-A-Duck competition. Although no one won the big cash prize of $50,000, there were several other large prizes won — including a hot tub valued at $5,000.
Morris, with his multitude of customer prize draws throughout the year — has made the car-buying experience fun. His approach to auto sales and focus on customer service has made Winnipeg Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram the top-selling Dodge Chrysler dealer in Manitoba year in and year out ever since he acquired the store 11 years ago.
Sales have now grown to the point where it is time to greatly expand the size of the facility. “Our existing building was designed for selling 600 to 700 vehicles a year,” Morris says. “Now we are doing close to 3,000 sales a year. We have outgrown every part of our building.”
Morris and his team launched a $3.2-million renovation and expansion of the building at the beginning of May, which will add 6,000 square feet to the current 11,000 square feet. Up front, the new showroom will be able to accommodate eight vehicles (as compared to five or six now). The customer lounge will be doubled in size. There will be a new boardroom with media capabilities and more office space including two offices specifically to provide more privacy for sales reps meeting with customers.
The service side will have more service advisers, four additional service bays (bringing the number to 23) and two dedicated quick lube bays. Overlooking the service area will be an-airport-type control tower giving service managers a birds-eye view of the entire area which is intended to improve efficiency.
“Everything will be up to the most modern standards and more,” Morris says. “There will be no dead space. “Every square foot of our building will be used. The staff is really excited about our expansion. Working conditions are a key to success. If you look after your staff well, your staff will look after the customers equally well.” Morris anticipates the renovation and expansion should be complete by the end of November.
Brian Lowes Laureate finalist
Brian Lowes and his Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg store continue to excel. Last year, he reports, Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg ranked among the top three Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Canada in year over year sales growth — a 28 per cent increase in the case of Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg.
In recognition of Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg’s achievements, Lowes has been named as one of the Canadian Auto Dealers Association’s five Laureate Finalists for 2016 finalists in the retail operations category for outstanding achievement within an individual dealership. The Laureate Award is the highest honour that a Canadian auto dealer can aspire to during the course of his or her career.
“It is a huge honour just to be considered, let alone make the final five,” says Lowes (who is also the president of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association).
Retails operations is one of three CADA Laureate categories. In addition to retail operations, one dealer from across the country is also selected in the categories of ambassador, based on contributions to the community and the industry, business innovation, in recognition of initiatives that significantly enhance performance or broaden the scope of business for dealers. In each category, there are five nominees.
Lowes notes any one of CADA’s 3,000 members can enter a nomination. Candidates are evaluated in a three-stage process. First, a special industry committee culls the list based on specified criteria. Next, the nominees still under consideration receive official letters inviting them to visit the Laureate website to accept the nomination and complete a questionnaire specific to the category in which they are nominated. Based on the questionnaires, an impartial third party administrator recommends the five finalists in each category. The winner in each category is chosen by a group of professors in the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business.
“This nomination speaks to how well we represent the Mercedes-Benz brand in the community,” Lowes says. “The nomination is also a credit to our employees. We believe in investing in our staff, our business, our industry and our community. We strive to be good corporate citizens and good community members.”
Industry leader Keith Boyd passes away
We offer our condolences to the family of longtime automotive industry leader Keith Boyd. A memorial service was held in his memory on Monday. Boyd got his start in the automotive industry at Century Motors and was the general manager at Birchwood Pontiac GMC for many years. It was during his time at Birchwood that he played a major role in the founding of the Manitoba Motor Dealer Association sales certification program, the first such initiative of its kind in the country. Boyd was also a past-president of the MMDA and a long-serving board member.