AUTO SALES A Sweeney revolution

The new Chevrolet facility should be open a year from now.
BOARDMAN -- Anticipating strong sales of the new Chevrolet Cobalt, built at the General Motors Lordstown complex, Sweeney Chevrolet has announced plans to build a new Chevrolet store.
Doug Sweeney, president of Sweeney Chevrolet, said a 5.3-acre site has been purchased on Market Street, across from the Sweeney-owned Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealership, south of the current dealership.
Doug and David Sweeney bought Spartan Chevrolet, also located on Market Street, last September. The Spartan site is already up for sale.
Doug Sweeney said the new 30,000-square-foot dealership will be the same size as the current Chevrolet store, but it will feature state-of-the-art facilities that are designed for greater customer satisfaction and efficiency.
Fast service
In addition, the inventory of cars will be closer for the customer, and the new facility will feature the latest in equipment and tools to accommodate fast service.
Doug Sweeney said they are hoping to begin construction this spring, with completion by next January.
"I'm really excited about the new facility. It is very accessible and is in a high traffic and shopping area," he said, adding that design plans are moving forward but have not been finalized.
Jack Dugan, general sales manager for both dealerships, is expecting the Cobalt to contribute to their strong sales. "We want to be the largest Cobalt dealer in the country. We have high expectations."
David Sweeney, president of Buick/Pontiac/GMC, added that they purchased the former Spartan store, owned by John Scotford, knowing the Cobalt was coming and would be a big seller. He said that they're looking for a big volume of sales this spring.
He said that they have been selling Cobalts consistently since they came into the dealership late last year and will be receiving a special GM new dealer allocation over the next several weeks.
Topping the list
Meanwhile, in the latest annual report from the Automobile Dealers Association, Buick/Pontiac/GMC topped the list for a third year in a row in the number of Buick/Pontiac/GMC vehicles sold in the state of Ohio.
The dealership sold more than 5,000 new and used cars and trucks in 2004.
David Sweeney said it is very gratifying that Mahoning Valley residents continue to buy GM products.
"People like GM cars -- the Lordstown influence is a big factor," he said.
He added, "Sixty percent of the cars sold in this area are still GM cars, which is more than double the national average."
Sweeney also attributes the record sales figures to the three-generation heritage of the dealership, now in its 84th year of continuous ownership, as well as customer loyalty.
"We try to take care of our customers in both sales and service, and fortunately they keep coming back," he said.
No. 1
The dealership has also been rated No. 1 among GM dealers in customer satisfaction in Ohio and No. 3 in the North Central region, which encompasses nearly 25 percent of GM dealers.
Dugan said the 175 employees at both dealerships and the continuous training they are given, is a high priority.
"We've tripled our sales staff numbers and obviously you've got to train your people. They have to learn and understand the product because they're always changing," stressed Dugan.
David Sweeney said he is very optimistic going into the new year believing that car market will be strong and that interest rates will be stable. However, he said even though GM would probably like to back off from some of the incentive programs of 2004, he doesn't think they're going away anytime soon.
"I just attended the Auto Show in Detroit and there's more competition than ever before. I think GM may increase the incentives just to increase the market share."

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