After a long, El Nino-caused delay, Mission Imports finally moved into its new digs last month and held its official grand opening over the weekend.
The Mercedes-Benz dealership, formerly known as Mission Viejo Imports, is one of the high-end auto retailers helping redefine the ways cars get sold. Its new $15-million facility on 11 acres in Laguna Niguel was designed to be as customer-friendly as possible. It features three waiting rooms--one for people with small children, one for people with laptop computers and no concept of taking a break, and one for customers who'd like to kick back with a newspaper or magazine and a cup of coffee or soft drink while their vehicle is being serviced.
The service includes 62 bays to minimize customer waiting time, and the list goes on.
General Manager Louise Murphy, who has been with Mission Imports since it opened 25 years ago, says the move was dictated by time and space. "We outgrew our former facility," she said.
The dealership mailed 30,000 invitations to the grand opening, and about 2,000 people showed up to tour the new dealership over the weekend, Murphy said.
Mission is one of several Orange County luxury car dealerships to open new or remodeled facilities in the past year. Dick Bauer, whose Bauer Jaguar recently opened its new facility in Santa Ana after more than a decade in Anaheim, says the luxury dealers are just the first part of a wave that is sweeping through the auto retailing industry.
"It doesn't matter whether you are selling Chevys or Rolls-Royce," he says. "Your customer is making a big investment and wants to feel appreciated." Dealership facilities designed and outfitted to make the customer's stay as brief--and pleasant--as possible are one of the best ways to show that appreciation, he says.
And while luxury dealers seem to be leading the way, Bauer says, "everyone who wants to remain successful will have to follow."