At car dealerships around the country, innovation takes many forms. Some dealers make it easier to get a vehicle serviced. Others make it a priority to find new ways to give back to their communities. One dealer satisfies for speed and dinner. Another flips his cars for customers. Heres a look at some of the ways that nine dealers break the mold.
Keeping cars in line
Honda store finds the fastest way to repair cars is on an assembly lineWaiting for car repairs is one of life's great annoyances. But an executive at a Pennsylvania auto dealership group found a solution after being inspired by a hallmark of automobile manufacturing: the assembly line.
Q&A: Biggest obstacle: 'It was a culture change'
John Rickards created an assembly-line-style service line for Bobby Rahal Honda in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He says the line saves customers time and the dealership money. He spoke with Special Correspondent Greg Migliore about the line's benefits.
Ensuring a lasting legacy
Wayne Kuni's succession plan enables him to donate his business proceeds to charity yet keep his stores intactHow much is enough? Wayne Kuni has pondered that question at length, especially since he learned two years ago that he has lung cancer. Kuni, 74, is chairman and founder of Kuni Automotive, which operates 10 auto dealerships in four Western states
Q&A: 'Things don't make you happy'
Wayne Kuni believes in donating excess earnings to charitable causes. He explained how he arrived at his philosophy to Staff Reporter Donna Harris.
Virginia store donates auto repairs
A Falls Church, Va., dealer has fashioned a vehicle repair giveaway based on a popular reality TV show. Mike Beyer, co-owner of Don Beyer Volvo, has introduced to customers and employees his version of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Making the grade
Dealer rewards top students with laptops, MustangCathy Anderson says she wants to make sure her pursuit of profits is balanced with her passion for philanthropy. So the dealer principal of Woody Anderson Ford in Huntsville, Ala., created "Drive for Excellence" in December 2004.
Q&A: 'It's a passion'
Cathy Anderson wants to make a difference in the lives of people in her community, especially children. She spoke with Staff Reporter Arlena Sawyers.
Lamborghinis and linguine
Dealer Richard Rubio serves up luxury cars, fine Italian cuisineFor those who want their champagne wishes and caviar dreams to come true, auto dealer Richard Rubio is an enabler. In July, Rubio opened Manhattan Motorcars of the Hamptons, a luxury dealership in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., a tony spot on Long Island where the captains of corporate America like to summer.
Q&A: Dealer's restaurant is a 'destination'
Richard Rubio, dealer principal of Manhattan Motorcars of the Hamptons, built an upscale Italian restaurant above his luxury-vehicle showroom. He spoke with Staff Reporter Gail Kachadourian in August.
A warm welcome
Lexus dealership greets service customers with their names in lightsWatching customers flowing into the showroom is every auto dealer's dream. But what happens when an expanding business no longer can offer customers the folksy, personal service that fueled its success?
Q&A: 'Make each service customer feel special'
To retain personal contact with his growing customer base, Roger Bendet has installed a customer identification system at Lexus of Omaha that welcomes service customers by name and notifies designated staff members that they have arrived.
It's not just customizing - it's Galpinizing
Calif. dealership's touches boost salesNo one has surfed California's endless wave of enthusiasm for cars more successfully than Los Angeles-area auto dealer Bert Boeckmann, owner of Galpin Motors Inc.
Q&A: 'California accentuates being different'
Bert Boeckmann built Galpin Motors around being different and by constantly improving the way he displays, sells and services vehicles. Boeckmann explained his business philosophy to Special Correspondent Jon F. Thompson.What does being innovative mean to you?
Retention program brings customers back to Mercedes storeUntil Henry joined his business, Michael Rosengarden was confident he had all the right policies in place to keep customers coming back to his Mercedes store on Chicago's tony North Shore.
Dennis AutoPoint sells cars from a fresh angle: on endWhen you enter Dennis AutoPoint's five Ohio showrooms, you can't help but stare at the flipped-up cars. It's something that the dealership has been doing off and on for almost 10 years.
Q&A: 'If you're not innovative, you're not in the business'
Aaron Masterson has been displaying flipped-up vehicles at Dennis AutoPoint's Ohio showrooms off and on for almost 10 years. He says it illustrates product value rather than the deal.