It's been an exciting time at the Chalmers Capitol Ford Lincoln dealership in the Santa Fe Auto Park.
Not only has the facility undergone a sweeping renovation, the company has introduced a new relationship with its customers called "A Dealer for the People."
On top of that, Chalmers won a Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award. Chalmers' win was for a company with 21 employees or more, and the selection was unexpected, making it all the sweeter, said general manager Scott Simkins.
"We've been nominated several times for the last five years, but we didn't win," Simkins said. "We were thrilled to win. It was great."
Also great has been the pleased reaction of longtime customers such as Charlie Davis of Abiquiú.
"I've been completely satisfied here," he said one recent Wednesday morning as he waited for his vehicle to be serviced. "They've always done a nice job here."
Simkins thinks his staff could do an even better job and has introduced a "price proposal process" motivated, he said, by the core belief that "everyone deserves a nicer, newer car."
"Solution specialists [formerly sales people], help make this happen," Simkins said.
One of the most unhappy parts of the whole car-buying process involves price negotiations between the dealer and the customer, he said.
"At Chalmers, you don't have to negotiate the best price -- we give you a proposal, and you decide if it makes sense for you," Simkins said.
The dealership also offers a "peace of mind guarantee" with any new or used Chalmers automobile.
"If you are not driving a nicer, newer car, then just bring it back directly to Simkins and return it in the same condition," Simkins said. "You get your money back."
And as for those buyers who have experienced "a few bumps along the credit road," Simkins said, "we specialize in helping with credit issues."
Chalmers Ford started its renovation last winter with a plan that included the idea to create a new "Business Center" equipped with Wi-Fi throughout, as well as water, coffee and tea for customers who choose to wait for their vehicles to be repaired.
"Our write-up area will take care of 50 to 60 vehicles per day," Simkins said. "It's very customer-friendly."
Simkins said the remodel, which cost about $1 million, was performed by L.D. Miller, a Santa Fe construction firm.
"We think it looks great," Simkins said, adding that given the economy, "It was adventurous of us to do this. We're looking to match the service we always provided before."
All the renovation at Chalmers Ford is expected is to encourage car sales, but the dealership has already proved its success -- there were no employee layoffs in 2008 and 2009, the height of the recession, Simkins said.
And as for used- and new-car sales, they were about the same
as last year, Simkins said, though he declined to disclose the total number of sales.
Simkins did say, however, that he'd would like to sell the same percentage of used vehicles as new ones.
That's because dealers "typically make bigger profit margins on used vehicles," according to autonews.com, an online industry publication.
"Our big goal is get to get to one used vehicle sold for every new vehicle sold," Simkins said. "We're working toward it."
Please note, the comment system has been temporarily suspended. Comments will return with the launch of our new website on March 11, 2013. Please direct questions or concerns to web editor Natalie Guillen at email@example.com.
Thank you for your patience.