By Dan Sorenson –
Chapman Group Goes Extra Mile for Customers, Environment
The Chapman Automotive Group of Tucson has doubled down on its commitment to the East 22nd Street new car business with a new, ultramodern and environmental award-winning home for its Honda dealership.
The 78,000-square-foot, nine-acre complex is the latest piece of Chapman’s build-out and revamp of the most concentrated stretch of Tucson’s East 22nd Street new-car strip. Chapman dealerships – Honda, Acura, VW, Audi and Porsche – make up the densest section of the strip, which starts with Tucson Dodge, 4220 E. 22nd St., and heads east to include MINI of Tucson and Throroughbred Nissan, the Jim Click Hyundai, Mazda and Ford-Lincoln dealerships at Wilmot Road, Desert Toyota at Kolb Road, and Larry H. Miller Chrysler-Jeep at Pantano Road on the eastern end. Chapman also operates Mercedes-Benz and Sprinter of Tucson at 6350 E. Grant Road.
Ted Chapman, president of the Chapman Automotive Group of Tucson, won’t put a price on the group’s flashy new Honda dealership, but he said the project went beyond what American Honda demands of its dealers. Chapman said that Honda, like all manufacturers, requires certain features in its dealerships.
The signage and look of the facility announce the presence of a Honda facility to motorists speeding by on 22nd Street. But Chapman said they went beyond the requirements with many custom features – including towering ceilings in the vast showroom and customer service area, huge photo murals with Honda vehicles in iconic Tucson settings, a comfortable customer lounge and some less-obvious environmental efforts that earned the dealership an award from American Honda. Chapman Group’s Tucson dealership is the only Arizona Honda dealership listed on American Honda’s Green Dealer website.
“We have been awarded the platinum level of the Environmental Leadership Award from Honda,” said Neb Yonas, general manager of the Chapman Automotive Tucson Group.
“We’re one of only 12 nationally to have received platinum level certification,” Chapman said. He said major features include a state-of-the-art water recycling system for the car wash and energy efficient LED lighting, inside and out. “This place really lights up at night, but it’s all down-facing,” Chapman said of the well-lit lots. “It’s Dark Skies compliant. Tucsonans like to hear those things. I came from Vegas (where) I didn’t see a star for 15 years.”
The new facility was designed by Phoenix architect Barry R. Barcus and built by Canyon Building and Design of Tucson.
Chapman and Yonas said they’re committed to serving the vast East and South sides of Tucson, including Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which they said is often overlooked as a residential population by Tucson businesses.
“We’re committed – and it’s not just advertising,” Chapman said, noting that the group sponsors soccer teams and concerts throughout its service area. “We’re part of the community.”
The effort is as much internal as external. “We want our staff to look like our customers, in age, gender and race. It’s changed so much,” Yonas said of his sales staff.
“We have mothers, ex-engineers. We talk plain language. Herb Tarlek is not on the showroom floor,” Yonas said, referring to a fictional character – a slippery, glad-handing salesman in a garish plaid sport coat – from the 1978-1982 sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
As part of building a long-term relationship with customers, Chapman said they’re doing things that don’t necessarily make Chapman more money immediately, but provide some added value to customers. “We’re selling tires,” not something to which most dealers give much thought, if any. And though oil changes aren’t a big moneymaker, he said the shop is geared up to do them quickly and for a fair price.
The idea, he said, is to have the customer call up “their guy” at Chapman whenever they need something automotive related.
And they’re geared up for both traditional “tire kicker” customers and modern internet shoppers. There are a dozen employees – one manager and 11 online sales people – staffing Chapman Honda’s online unit.
“Research says people are spending 12 to 14 hours online doing research before they buy,” Yonas said. “For those who want the fast track to a car deal, the internet is there for them.”
They’re also geared up for service customers who need their internet while waiting for their cars. In addition to a large and inviting customer lounge − with TVs and comfortable chairs, coffee and soft drink service, free popcorn and the Kids’ Zone play area – there’s a nearby quiet room with cubicles, countertops, outlets and charging ports for people who need or want to stay connected while waiting for service.
And while Chapman ducks the question of just how much all this cost, he said it’s all paying off. Just five months after the new facility opened, Chapman said, every department was showing increased sales. And the Chapman Group’s commitment to the East 22nd Street new car empire is not over. Next, Chapman said, is a new Audi dealership on the site of the old Honda facility, putting Audi and Porsche under separate roofs − and another Chapman sign on 22nd Street.