Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cutting-edge tech drives new Ford dealership site

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 11/13/2013

Standing on new porcelain tile, Rick Nunez changed the radio station streaming through the speakers of the freshly built Advantage Ford showroom using just his cell phone.

“That’s state-of-the-art,” he said.

Standing on new porcelain tile, Rick Nunez changed the radio station streaming through the speakers of the freshly built Advantage Ford showroom using just his cell phone.

“That’s state-of-the-art,” he said.

This handy feature is just one of the many cutting-edge amenities at the new Advantage Ford location, 2320 S. Oak St., Ottawa. The site cost more than $4 million between construction and landscaping, Nunez, general manager, said — more than the $3 million originally forecast.

Advantage Ford recently completed its move from 402 N. Main St., Ottawa, to its new home, where the new facility is expected to offer a Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, as well as other innovative equipment to better serve customers, Nunez said.

“We have a brand-new facility with all brand-new equipment to service people’s vehicles and service our customers,” he said. “It will better serve our customers and community.”

Advantage Ford opened its doors in Ottawa nearly three years ago, Nunez said, and he’s been planning the business’ move since its opening.

“When they purchased the franchise, the agreement was that we’d be in that location [402 N. Main St.] but we had to build a new facility — that was one of Ford’s requirements,” Nunez said. “Or remodel that location, which was cost prohibitive.“

The new location has been open for a little more than a week, he said, but the old location still sits vacant. An auction for the old site on North Main Street was organized Wednesday, but the building and land didn’t sell, a representative of Cates Auction & Realty Company said Wednesday afternoon. The reserve price was listed at $699,000.

WHAT’S NEW?

The newest part of Advantage Ford is the Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, Nunez said, where customers can stop by and get tires rotated, an oil change or any number of other services. The center can service all makes and models, not just Fords, Nunez said.

“You can get your oil changed, a tire rotation or a wheel balance with no appointments,” he said. “Quick Lane is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. We wanted to be able to perform those services for our customers before work or after work, and there’s no appointment necessary.”

The move and the addition of the Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center was all done for customers, Nunez said.

“We thought it’d be a good idea just in the fact that we’re able to give our customers better and quicker service,” he said. “What’s nice too is if you came in during the lunch hour, you could walk to Applebee’s to have lunch. That makes it nice.”

Though the parking lot at the dealership is close to the same size as the previous location, Nunez said, it’s already added more Ford vehicles to its stock.

“We have increased our new Ford cars and truck selection,” he said. “The selection is a lot better, but we’ve also kept the prices the same.”

When a dealership builds a new location with better equipment, often the cost is made up by charging more for oil changes or is reflected in a vehicles’ sticker prices, Nunez said, but that’s not the case at the Ottawa lot.

“Our prices for oil changes and routine maintenance didn’t go up in price,” he said. “Prices are the same even though we have a new state-of-the-art facility. A lot of people think if you’re in a new facility, you have to increase prices, but we kept the prices the same, so that’s not the case.”

STATE-OF-THE-ART

The new equipment in the Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center helps make routine maintenance appointments just that — quick, Advantage Ford representatives said.

Three new pieces of equipment help make dealing with tires and alignment faster, easier and safer for drivers, Steve Howard, service technician, said.

“The two tire machines actually do a lot of the work for you,” Howard said. “Instead of you having to determine what the weight [to put in a tire] and stuff would be, the machine will help with that.”

One of the tire machines specifically deals with road force to help take some of the work out of figuring out the balance, Howard said.

“It does everything,” he said. “Instead of you having to figure out why the balance is out, the machine tells you why the balance is out. The tire machine itself is so much simpler than the older machines.”

Every new vehicle is made with a Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor (TPMS), Howard said, and older tire machines could damage the sensors during a balance.

“The tire machine actually dismounts the tire from the rim, and before that machine it was done by hand,” he said. “The older tire machines would break the [tire pressure monitoring sensors] extremely easy. These machines might break them easily, but it’s a lot harder to do so. You don’t have to do as much by hand with these machines.”

Another new piece of equipment is the laser alignment machine, Howard said, which turns an hour-long alignment into a 15-minute job.

“Ninety-five percent of vehicles you buy off the lot automatically pull to the right, so when you’re driving, you head toward the ditch, not oncoming traffic,” he said. “What this machine does is automatically compensates for that. The alignment machine does everything for you besides adjust it. You still have to adjust it, but it shows you exactly what you have to do, what tools you’re going to need — everything.”

With the new innovative equipment, the Quick Lane can better help customers by cutting down the wait time, and ensuring better accuracy in the maintenances being performed, Howard said.

“It really helps out with the name Quick Lane because we’re supposed to be fast and nobody wants to wait an hour to three hours for an alignment. They want it in and out,” he said. “The machines help a lot with that.”

A ribbon-cutting at the new location is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today for Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce members, but a bigger grand opening still is in the works for an as-yet determined date, Nunez said.

Nunez said his hope for the new location is simple — bring in new business and keep it.

“We’re always hoping for additional business,” he said. “Hopefully draw some new customers to the community to help them when they come to see us. ... If you treat people well and take care of customers, they will always come back.”

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