With the economic downturn, many car dealerships took a substantial hit with certain brands being taken away from dealers.
Dealerships in Leesburg have seen the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in recent years.
Kevin Saghafi, co-owner and CEO of Dulles Motorcars, had his Jeep brand taken away from him during the economic downturn.
With the recovery currently in full swing and car companies bailed out by the federal government, many dealerships in Leesburg are currently or have already undergone construction expanding their facilities.
The three most recent dealerships to undergo construction are Leesburg Toyota, Star Pontiac and Dulles Motorcars. Leesburg Toyota has completed their renovations, while Star Pontiac and Dulles Motorcars are nearing completion on their respective projects.
According to Leesburg Town Staff, rough estimates put 11-15 total dealerships within town limits. Denise Hyde, a staffer with the Town Finance Department who works with Business, Professional and Occupational Licensing, found data that showed about 13 dealerships, seven of which are used car dealers.
Marantha Edwards, director of economic development for the Town of Leesburg, said a lot of construction being conducted at dealerships in the town are a result of car brands enforcing certain industry standards for their facilities.
“The dealerships, in order to keep their franchise agreements, almost every single one of them has forced them to set a time line to make improvements to their facilities in order to meet industry standards,” Edwards said. “We are now at the end of the time line for the construction and that’s why so many are currently under construction.”
Susan Berry Hill, director of Planning and Zoning, agreed.
“Corporation headquarters for each respective brand of automobile have specifications for what they want their dealerships to look like and operate site-wise,” Hill said. “Some of these changes are occurring I think because of that. Leesburg Toyota, when they expanded, were getting certain directives from corporate headquarters about how that corporate branding was to look.
“We had the same issue and question come up when Star Buick went through their application process to expand their facility,” Hill said.
Jim Hoover, general manager at Star Buick and GMC, was one of the dealerships required to upgrade its facilities by corporate offices and are expanding their service area.
“Well we wanted to increase our service area for one thing because we have been backed up in service,” Hoover said. “[General Motors] has an initiative to update their dealerships and driving force as well. I think all the manufacturers have initiatives in place for updating facilities and so forth.
“If you meet certain criteria with delivery, customer satisfaction and training you are provided with a stipend, which is to be used toward the transformation and ours was getting a little dated,” Hoover said.
The new service department will provide a service drive-thru, which they have never had, as well as child areas and a new customer service lounge.
SUB: Family comes first at Dulles Motorcars
Dulles Motorcars is adding an entire new showroom and service area to house their Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram dealership. The new building is scheduled to be completed sometime between December and January.
Saghafi said the purpose and cause of the expansion with the new building is to help the dealership better serve their cherished customers.
“We felt the need to expand and that these people deserve high quality service at the same time, because people work hard for their money and for us to earn that we have to work as hard or harder,” Saghafi said. “I am blessed because not only do I love this business, but my brother loves this business and my kids love this business and they are all here and that is what makes us unique.
“We felt we needed to build that building for our Chrysler products to service our Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram truck customers. We are building the largest and best Chrysler building in the Washington, D.C. metro area,” Saghafi said.
Purchased by Saghafi and his brother 23 years ago in 1990, the dealership has become one of the prominent car dealers in Loudoun County.
With Kia, Subaru in one building and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep in another, Saghafi and his family have gained success with a family-oriented business that caters to its customers.
After losing his Jeep brand during the economic downturn – they have since gotten the dealership back – Saghafi had continued success due to their dedication to his customers.
“We spoil our customers and that is all there is to it. Everybody works hard for their money and the secret is honesty, integrity, service and we treat them like family,” Saghafi said. “We are mindful of the problems customers have when they come here and we want to make that as easy as possible. Going to a car dealer is worse than going to the dentist.”
Saghafi has capitalized on the unforeseen growth Loudoun has encountered.
“Leesburg is a part of the fastest growing county in the United States for years and now the county has evolved into the richest household income in the nation in the last few years,” Saghafi said. “This is a family business and we treat our customers like extended family and this town and its people have given us everything we have.”
Designed to provide comfort and space for its customers, Saghafi acknowledges the new building will offer the type of service they want to provide.
“It has been an ongoing process from obtaining the permits to being able to putting the bricks and mortar together,” Saghafi said. “Public service will be key and we are going to have a video afternoon for kids and their parents to enjoy. They don’t have to be our customers, but it is our way of saying thank you for the community.”
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