HAMILTON, ONT. – Bill Johnston wasn’t content with a ceremonial shovel. He really wanted to move some earth.
And move earth he did as the Hamilton, Ontario Chrysler dealer and his team officially broke ground – with the help of a huge excavator – for his new stand-alone Fiat showroom on Thursday.
“It was October when I gathered the team and told everyone about the Fiat appointment,” Johnston told the crowd today. “We knew it was going to be a lot of work but we knew we were going to look at it as something new and exciting.”
The stand alone, 2,600 square foot showroom will sit on the parking lot adjacent to the current Chrysler store.
Johnston said he took this construction route so there would be adequate separation of the brands.
“We weren’t able to accomplish the pure separation we had hoped for in our current showroom,” he said. “If we had expanded the showroom, we would have been taking space from our current Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Chrysler brands.”
The $600,000 project is expected to take about four months to complete and will meet the Fiat imaging standards.
“Fiat has a certain look with the red towers on either side and branding throughout so we will be following that to a tee.”
When asked if he was nervous at making a six-figure investment to sell one car, he said the business case supports the expansion.
“We’ve been given a generous market area by Chrysler as the only dealership in the Greater Hamilton Area offering Fiat. Since they gave us that commitment, we wanted to show it back,” he said. “Plus, we have always done extremely well here with small car sales. With the diversity of the Hamilton area population, I think they will be really receptive to this vehicle.”
Johnston said the response to the car thus far has been strong, despite employing a non-traditional marketing strategy including social media and event-based advertising.
“We have focused on guerrilla marketing where the car just shows up at movie theatres and community events to help build excitement.”
Fiat customers for Johnston thus far mirrored what other Fiat dealers have noted across the country – diverse and all over the map.
“There have been young people who love the look and feel but also environmentally conscious business professionals and split almost evenly between male and female.”
He is hoping to have a grand opening in the fall.