When Patrick Abad, the managing partner and VP of the Lexus of Wesley Chapel dealership scheduled to open later this year, regaled the June 21 audience at the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (WCCC)’s Economic Development Briefing with updates about the area’s next luxury car dealership, he drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
And, he did a lot of that without even mentioning the cars.
Thanks to a local family median income in the $80,000 range, an influx of new homes on the horizon and rapid business growth, Wesley Chapel has become a hot destination for luxury car dealers. Lexus of Wesley Chapel, being built just south and west of Wesley Chapel Toyota at 5300 Eagleston Blvd. (south of State Road 54 between Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and I-75), will be joining what is growing into a booming luxury car market that already includes Mercedes-Benz of Wesley Chapel, which opened in 2015, and Audi Wesley Chapel, which will open a little later this year than Lexus.
Abad wowed the WCCC audience with details of what will be a state-of-the-art facility that he expects will revolutionize the local car-buying experience.
“We have visited over 40 Lexus dealerships in the last 18 months, and we took the best from each one,’’ Abad said. “When we sat down with the architect, we said we want all of these things.”
Those things include simple, but expensive touches like the $2 million being spent on a double car wash. “Lexus said we didn’t have to build a car wash,” Abad says, “so we didn’t…we built two.”
A pavilion, equipped with a grill, refrigerator and televisions and able to host small corporate events, will link the Lexus dealership to the adjacent Wesley Chapel Toyota dealership. Inside, a cafe featuring fresh sandwiches and a smoothie machine, massage chairs, a business center and even a “quiet” room for those working while they wait for their cars is being incorporated into the dealership.
Abad is part of the Williams Automotive Group of Wesley Chapel, which also operates Wesley Chapel Toyota and Wesley Chapel Honda on Wesley Chapel Blvd. (or C.R. 54), the Wesley Chapel Used Superstore on S.R. 54 and Tampa Honda on N. Florida Ave.
Williams Automotive, run by brothers John and David Williams, has been chasing a Lexus dealership — there are only 236 in the country, Abad says — for years. They even did their own market study, which showed a need for a Lexus dealership in Wesley Chapel, and as one of about 500 applicants, presented it yearly in the hopes of being awarded one. Once chosen, the process included five thorough on-site interviews at Toyota.
“Two grueling years,’’ Abad said, adding that it was the first time in 12 years a new dealer had been brought into the Lexus family. He said that the success of Wesley Chapel Toyota, chosen as the WCCC Large Business of the Year in 2015, played a big role.
The new dealership is being built on eight acres of land, and though the standard Lexus dealership is roughly 20,000-sq.-ft., the Wesley Chapel location will be 64,000-sq.-ft.
High-tech customer care, though, will be a centerpiece. “Technology like you will not see in any other store,’’ Abad said.
When Lexus owners pull in, radio-frequency identification (RFID) will alert their customer service rep inside. An electronic tire reader will tell you if you need new tires before you even take a seat inside. WiFi in the poles in the parking lot will allow employees to better address customer needs via their tablets.
As for sales, gone are the days of what Abad called the “27 steps of the sale process.” With smarter shoppers these days due to computers and the internet, Abad said sales reps do not have to drag customers through all 27 steps.
“Customers are all at different spots in the process,’’ he says. “If they come in and know the price they want to pay, what their car is worth, what they want to buy, can’t we just skip steps 1-22 and go right to 23?”
In fact, due to tablet technology, Abad said in some cases it might be feasible to skip right to 27, and sign the paperwork for your car on a tablet in your own driveway.
Lexus will hire 100 people, and Abad said they are looking more to the customer service and hospitality industries. He also said he has received 1,200 applications from all over the country — even one from a director of concierge at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in California.
Lexus will hit the ground running. Abad is handling a promotion called the Founding 100, which will provide various perks for the first 100 customers to buy a Lexus at the Wesley Chapel location. It includes upgrades like a lifetime warranty, lifetime oil changes and car washes, as well as other VIP services.
The promotion already has been a hit. Six months before Lexus is set to open, 95 cars already have been pre-sold. “The average Lexus store sells about 100 monthly,’’ Abad said. “We’re doing 100 the first week.” Or more. Abad added that Lexus of Wesley Chapel they may widen the promotion for additional customers.
“I think this is going to be great for the community,’’ he says. “I think you are going to be proud of what we do.”
For more information, check out Lexus of Wesley Chapel’s website at Lexus OfWesleyChapel.com.