By Gerry Frechette
BURNABY, B.C. – Carter GM is one of the most successful GM franchises in Canada and a fixture in Burnaby, B.C. since 1968.
The family-owned business has just finished a complete renovation of the dealer facilities, the biggest of the four overhauls carried out over the past few decades.
Bill Mitchell, dealership president, discussed all that has happened in the 14 months since construction began on the $3.5 million project.
“All manufacturers have dealer image requirements that have to be met on an ongoing basis, so one of the reasons was to meet GM's standards for facilities. But also, it was just time,” Mitchell said.
“The last major renovation was back in 1998, but the showroom hadn't been renovated since the early ’80s. We had always kept it neat and clean, but it was showing its age.”
So just what are the changes at the venerable store?
“We can now display about 22 cars in our new car showroom. Before the renovation, it was about half-a-dozen cars. We've gone from 3,000 square feet of showroom to 10,000.”
Service and parts were not neglected as a half-a-dozen bays were added to the service department, four of which are dedicated to larger vehicles like heavy-duty trucks.
“A lot of the truck service business has moved out to the suburbs, so there was a need for commercial truck repair in the Burnaby/New Westminster/Vancouver area. The parts department got a small expansion in the renovation, about 2,000 square feet, so we now have one of the largest GM parts inventories in Western Canada, and we sell upwards of one-third of all the GM parts in the Lower Mainland.”
Mitchell explained that since tires sales play a large role in Carter’s service business, they improved the tire centre adding two bays dedicated to tire replacement and increasing tire storage space by 3,000 square feet.
“That is a big and growing business for us,” he said.
“We're enjoying the new facility and getting a lot of good feedback from our customer base seeing the place for the first time,”
The new store has an interior delivery area so no one has to be out in the rain to take possession of their new car.
“The enhancements have expanded our business in a number of ways, and both sales and service have seen growth compared to last year, in a stable market,” he said. “It's just a better experience for the client.”