When Ryan Family Dealerships in Minot purchased the local Honda car franchise, it quickly became apparent a new facility was warranted. Although some delays were encountered, Minot's first newly-constructed car dealership in quite some time has finally held its grand opening, and customers as well as employees couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.
Joel Sandy, marketing manager for Ryan Family Dealerships, said they broke ground on the new building in the spring of 2011, but ran into some delays that pushed back the opening date to mid-July this year.
"It took a little longer than we had hoped, but at least the finished product is beautiful and exactly what we needed," Sandy said.
At 21,400 square feet, the facility isn't enormous, but that wasn't what they were going for. The Honda dealership was previously at the old Fisher Motors location before Ryan Family Dealerships purchased it. That facility was much larger and Sandy said constructing a brand new building at a different location ended up being the most effective way to promote the Honda national image.
"They (Honda) wanted upgrades to begin with, so we thought why not build a whole new facility. Honda's about going high-tech, so we wanted to make sure that we had the best facility available, the most high-tech features we could get in our dealership," Sandy said. "And it wasn't necessarily feasible to do in the old building so we thought let's move here."
Dave Lunde, sales manager at Ryan Honda, said the facility is a new generation three structure and is only the second one in the country to be built so far. He said one of the main attractions is the large, open showroom that lets in plenty of natural light.
"It speaks for itself the minute you open the door and walk in," Lunde said.
Sales and service advisers are also close at hand when customers walk through the door. The service department driveway is fully enclosed, so customers can exit their vehicle in a warm environment and walk right into the service department to drop off their keys. There is also a car wash to clean customer vehicles after the service work is complete.
"A lot of the flow of the building is set up for customer experience," Sandy said. "You've got the specific delivery area there, and it's heated in the back. It's all about being customer friendly."
The delivery area is where customers can pick up a newly-purchased car, and is fully enclosed so they don't have to go outside to get the keys to their new vehicle in inclement weather.
There are also two different lounges with TVs for customers to relax in while they wait. One of the lounges has a fireplace and a computerized TV that serves as a car customization center. Customers can build the specific car they want with all the relevant options and color schemes, and see what it would actually look like on the TV.
There is also a free coffee bar featuring glass mugs, and there is a dishwasher to efficiently clean them. Lunde said they went with the high-quality mugs because Styrofoam cups didn't fit the image they were trying to portray with the new building.
"And for the kids we have a nice little playroom over here," Lunde said.
In addition, Ryan Honda will also be offering free Wi-Fi Internet for those who have laptops or smartphones. That was still being set up during the grand opening, which happened Oct. 9.
"That's part of the allure of the gen three buildings, is it is about the wow factor and it builds that excitement," Sandy said. "When you're buying a new car, that's an exciting thing to begin with, and now you come to a building like this. It's all based on that customer experience and giving them the best customer experience they can get, be it in sales or if they're bringing their car in for service."
Mike Gaddie, vice president of Ryan Family Dealerships, said the interior was designed from the ground up to offer a pleasing experience for everyone who walks through the door. The finishes on the floors and walls, the furniture, and the extensive use of glass to let in an abundance of natural light have all combined to make the showroom and entire dealership as light and bright as possible.
Gaddie also noted they took the initiative to add some things that weren't in the original blueprints, such as the fireplace in the customer lounge.
"Being as far north as we are with our climate, the fireplace is not an element of Honda. We added that ourselves and incorporated it into their look," Gaddie said. "Because when it's cold and miserable and snowing outside and you come in the door and you've got a fireplace, people just seem to be attracted to that.
"We suspect with the coffee bar and fireplace and the setting and of course our computer-generated TV and everything right here, we expect that it will be a draw for our customers.
Kathy Gaddie, president of Ryan Family Dealerships, said she was extremely excited to be opening up the new building.
"It's a fabulous moment for us. We're very proud of the facility," Gaddie said. "We are very happy with all the people that helped us get to this point, and most importantly, we are very appreciative of the staff that went through a lot of changes and transitioned to this new building."
Kathy Gaddie thinks the staff is really enjoying working in the new location, and said the bright, new environment is a much-deserved perk for the staff after a long transition from the old facility.
"This is like the payoff for everything we've put them through," she said with a laugh. "I think they're very proud of this facility and they're proud to be a part of this whole business that we have."