BURNABY, B.C. – The old adage that it is easier to build a new dealership than to renovate an existing one was proven again with the completion of Destination Auto Group’s new Destination Honda facility in Burnaby, B.C.
The City of Burnaby’s zoning regulations predicated that any stand-alone dealership on that site would have to continue to occupy the original building foundation, renovated or not.
“We explored a number of options including a full-site redeveloping with a Honda dealership and residential tower,” explained John Coburn, vice-president of operations, noting it had done the same thing with its Kingsway Honda property in Vancouver.
“In analyzing the options, we opted for a renovation and worked cooperatively with the city to achieve a higher-capacity dealership that would complement and be able to serve the needs of a rapidly growing and changing neighbourhood.”
The refurbishment of the facility, owned by Destination since 1996, presented some unique challenges. For starters, it is comprised of two completely separate buildings (showroom and service/parts), sitting about 10 metres apart, which couldn’t be joined together.
In addition, the land is slightly sloped. Coburn explained that one of the challenges in the grade changes in the workshop facility
“The age of the building meant that many mutations had taken place over the years, and there are three very distinct grade changes within the parts and workshop area,” he said.
Despite the bevy of issues, he said the group was able to troubleshoot everything and complete a state-of-the-art facility in terms of technology and customer amenities.
The showroom is slightly larger than before and can hold 11 vehicles. A previous outdoor patio display area has been walled in and the roof has been raised seven feet.
Continuing with the approach that Destination launched at its new Toyota store last year, the service customer is dealt with beside their vehicle in the drive-thru lanes. One lane is for pre-booked service, while the other is no appointment necessary customers.
“Each vehicle gets a tread and alignment check as well as battery and code check, every time they visit our facility, and no matter what the purpose of their visit to service,” Coburn said.
Oil is checked (and changed if necessary), floor mats washed and the vehicle washed and vacuumed – all within about half an hour. And of course, there is ample opportunity to upsell the customer into any needed additional service, which Destination will happily perform on any vehicle short of a diesel pick-up or exotic.
The shop area has 17 bays.
“In parts, we had challenges in reducing our footprint and so once again turned to Kardex Remstar as a means of reducing space wastage,” he noted.
“In addition, the equipment links well with CDK, meaning the machinery acts on the basis of parts requests from technicians, automatically identifying parts bins to parts staff as soon as the request has been made, meaning that parts are picked accurately and on time for technicians while they are working on a job.”
The space constraints in the two buildings meant that the delivery area had to be in the parts and service building, allowing Destination to offer a delivery experience that ensures seamless introduction to the services offered, with the customer lounge right beside the express service lanes.
As Honda Canada president Dave Gardner put it at the grand opening on November 15: “Destination’s vision was to create a very modern facility where customers would feel very comfortable, and this is without a doubt one of the best Honda dealerships anywhere in Canada”
The renovations appear to already be paying off as the new store is moving 100 new Hondas per month, more than double the previous location, the former Happy Honda store in Burnaby.