When Morgan Auto Group purchased Brandon Honda in Tampa, Fla., in 2007, investing in a full-service cafe was a success. So much so that in 2016, the group bought Sun Toyota in Holiday, Fla., and allocated space for another one.
Under the guidance of recent hire chef Earl Weiss, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, the cafes at both locations help keep the stores in the black.
But John Marazzi, managing partner at both locations, says profits were never the point.
"We look at it as a retention and a customer-satisfaction tool," Marazzi told Automotive News. "If we see that we're becoming more profitable, we can literally lower prices and increase quality and increase the number we serve."
Indeed, the cafes have been a draw at the stores. Customers and employees have been known to order food to take home. One customer who discovered the cafe during an oil change returned a week later just for the food.
At Sun Toyota, gross profit in fixed operations has grown 100 percent to $1.1 million per month, and new-vehicle sales increased an average of 21 percent, since coming under Morgan Auto's ownership. "I don't know if you can attribute all of that to the cafes, but it definitely has been a help for customer perception, customer willingness," said Marazzi.
Brandon Honda was among the top 100 Honda stores in net profit in the country, but under Morgan, it has cracked into the top 10, Marazzi said.
Brandon Honda sells 6,300 new and used vehicles per year while Sun Toyota sells 7,000.