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Changing With The Times - Steves Chevrolet Undergoing Major Remodel
The insides of the local Steves Chevrolet on East F Street has been gutted from floor to ceiling as it undergoes a corporate sponsored $1.2 million remodel that is aimed at creating brand unity and enhancing the customers shopping experience. Business will continue as usual during the remodel. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader

Steves Chevrolet is one of many GM Chevrolet dealerships undergoing a major remodel as part of a new corporate sponsored program that will unify the dealerships with a highly visible corporate brand, much like that of Starbucks.

The local remodel, 100 percent funded by corporate under the EBE (Essential Brand Element) program, will cost $1.2 million, which will be spread out in quarterly payments for the next seven years.

“I wouldn’t even dream of doing this without corporate involvement,” said Jeff Steves, owner of Steves Chevrolet. “I purposefully held off because I knew this was coming. The main concern I had was if it was affordable. Once I saw the project would pay for itself, I was on board. The old facility is 13 years old. The customers are going to have a beautiful place to shop when it’s all finished.”

Steves Chevrolet started their remodel on March 17 and expects to be finished within eight months.
Of course, in spite of the construction, it’s business as usual.

“Business hasn’t been affected. We’re in trailers for the time being but our employees have been on their toes more than ever,” Steves said. “And our customers have been really good and understanding. Everything has flowed very well.”

Steves said they should be able to retire the trailers and move back inside the building within eight to 10 weeks.

All dealers who have agreed to enroll in this program must follow stringent guidelines in order to get paid, right down to the color of the paint, the light fixtures and tile choices as well as mandatory training sessions for both employees and principals.

In fact, Steves just returned from a mandatory training seminar at Disney where they learned how to conduct business the “Disney way.”

“They want to make it so no matter where you are, when you see it, you’ll know it’s a Chevrolet GM dealership,” Steves said. “It’s very well laid out and the color scheme is warm and inviting.”

The changes are internal as well as external, though the external changes will be readily visible as one of the main points, aside from brand recognition, is to enhance the customer’s shopping experience.

Among the changes include, free Wi-Fi, kids play area with Xbox game stations, a computer work station, a four car show room, and a coffee bar just to name a few.

“This is a floor to ceiling remodel,” Steves said. “I’ve always wanted to do this and this is perfect timing.”

The sales representatives will be up front and center where the action is, whereas the administrative offices will be recessed in the back with less prominence.

One aspect of the remodel that Steves wanted to pay particular attention was the tidiness of the restrooms, and even had to get special approval from the corporate architect to implement some additional conveniences for the ladies. One of the additional touches Steves implemented was the inclusion of fresh flowers in the ladies restroom.

“I want my lady customers to feel comfortable and a tidy bathroom speaks volumes about your business,” Steves said.
The impetus behind the corporate-wide movement is to remain competitive in a tight market.

“Other car brands are already doing this,” Steves said. “We are a main player in the market and we’re not going to lie down and watch others do this without doing it, too.”

Although corporate has to green-light every structural and aesthetic change, Steves was able to choose who to hire for much of the work.

“That was very important to me,” Steves said. “We can use local contractors that are our customers. And nothing feels better than being able to pay it back. They bought cars from us and now I can return the favor.”

The Oakdale Leader will provide updates on the remodel as it continues to progress.