Briarwood Ford has been in Saline for 26 years, but that doesn't stop the dealership from experimenting with new ways to reach customers.
Steve Whitener, vice president, purchased the dealership with his partner in 1986. It was originally located in downtown Saline and then moved to its current location at 7070 E. Michigan Ave. in early 1988.
The internet altered the way dealerships do business, Whitener said. People research, inquire about pricing and make appointments all online.
"We were a little afraid at first. Now people have already narrowed down what vehicle they're interested in," Whitener said.
But that, he said, saves the customers and the dealership time.
Another feature that saves time is the quick lane service, which takes care of oil changes, tire rotations, battery replacements and more with no appointments required.
Whitener said he knew the Walmart that was being built behind the dealership would not sell tires or service vehicles, which is typical of many Walmart stores. So he added the quick lane service to the back of the dealership in view of Walmart customers who may be looking for that service.
"My goal is for our customers to see us as the solution for any vehicle problem they have," he said.
Whitener said other big changes to the dealership are the used vehicle center, which is down the street on Michigan Avenue and now includes certified pre-owned vehicles, and a collision center, 1371 North Industrial Park Drive, added in the '90s that will service any vehicle. Both areas grew this year, he said.
"We change as the market changes," he said. "We're also constantly going through training."
The sales and technician staff learn the features in the cars, which are more complex with the added infotainment and safety systems, he said.
"We need to show the customers how to work the new stuff," he said.
Whitener said the dealership will have seminars every month to better explain tools like My Ford Touch and Ford SYNC.
An Interdependent Network
Whitener said there are 72 employees at Briarwood Ford, who work in different departments yet coordinate their efforts.
"In a dealership, it's like having five or six businesses under one roof," he said.
He said it takes trusted managers and staff in departments like new cars, used cars, finance, sales and service to run the dealership.
He said Ford's desirable, affordable and fuel efficient vehicles are a great part of what makes the dealership successful. Briarwood Ford has won awards like Best Family Friendly Car Dealer, Best Car Dealer, the Ford Motor Company's President's Award and Business of the Year by the Saline Chamber of Commerce.
Briarwood Ford also stays involved in the community by participating in programs like Toys for Tots and Angel Tree with Salvation Army. Whitener said this year will be the dealership's first time having a Salvation Army kettle to support families in need.
Briarwood Ford held a fundraiser Nov. 15 for C.S. Motts Children's Hospital where the dealer donated $20 for every person who attended the event.