After several slow years, 2013 is in line to become the best in overall profit since 1995 for Sarasota Ford. Sales are up 16% from last May.
“People are coming back into the buying market,” said Matt Buchanan, operating partner at the dealership. And Buchanan said that’s precisely the reason the downtown dealership has a $2.5 million renovation and expansion in the works.
“We wouldn’t have thought of doing this two years ago,” Buchanan said.
The expansion to the highly visible dealership, which faces U.S. 301 just after its split from U.S. 41, will bring a new showroom, adding an extra 2,664 square feet of space and an upgraded, aluminum façade onto the showroom.
The project will go to the city’s Development Review Committee June 19, and Buchanan hopes to start construction within two to four months.
Plans for a new six-bay Quick Lane oil change center will provide a need for up to 10 additional full-time employees, from technicians to a cashier.
Salesman Lorenzo Dixon Jr. said the new showroom area and front space will focus on a customer-friendly atmosphere.
And as part of the renovation, the dealership’s showroom area will provide a new movie room, a café, a kids center, an aquarium, a business center and larger bathrooms.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Dixon said. “You can take your kids into the theater, while we do all the paperwork.”
Buchanan said the showroom renovation was over-due because the space had not been updated since before 1995, when Matt’s father, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, purchased the dealership. Buchanan Automotive Group also operates Space Coast Honda in Cocoa and Toyota-Scion of Elizabeth City in Elizabeth City, N.C. In 2011, Matt Buchanan, 28, took over operation of the dealership.
“We consider this our flagship dealership,” Buchanan said.
The big sellers at Sarasota Ford continue to be F-150s, with 90 of the trucks sold so far this year. The dealership also sold 65 Fusions, making the high-efficiency car designed to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the second best-seller at the dealership.
Because the average age of a vehicle owned in the United States is 10 years, Buchanan expects demand for new cars to increase as more and more people are looking to replace their older cars.
He also expects Sarasota to continue to recover economically.
“I’m bullish on Sarasota,” Buchanan said.
— Numbers reflect sales year to date