The unfailingly polite Hayes, whom the Hennessys have dubbed "the wizard of fixed," is visibly excited as he leads a tour of the under-construction service department. His equipment budget was $3.6 million, Hayes said, and the resulting modernized department, including air conditioning in the repair bays, will help attract and retain technicians.
Hayes already has done a good job of that, Peter Hennessy said. Employee turnover in service is 12 percent, according to Hayes, a strong number considering the store is in the midst of construction.
"Knowing what was on the horizon, people stuck with us," Hennessy said.
The employees who have stuck it out are excited for the transformation from the leaky-roof days.
Jonathan Chambers, a new-vehicle sales consultant, recalls telling customers " 'Hey, watch out, don't step on the water puddle right there.' You had to make a lot of excuses for it being an old building, when you're asking them to pay $60-70,000 for a vehicle."
The new building will improve the customer experience "100 percent," Chambers said.
For the Hennessys, the project is a long-term play.
"We've been in the business for 55 years. We take a long-term approach to our investments, and we look at our relationships with our manufacturers as a partnership," Peter Hennessy said. "And when you have a great brand in the right location in a market like Atlanta, you can afford to invest for the long run."
Lindsay VanHulle contributed to this report.