Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nothing MINI about Opening

It was a soft opening. No formal publicity just word of mouth. General Manager Malcolm Cheek had many pre-orders and tons of service appointments lined up but Saturday March 24th was surely going to be a day to get settled in; especially with no real formal announcement of opening.


After years of planning, months of building the facility, weeks of anticipation and one hectic Friday full of moving furniture & displays, completing PDI of vehicles and a few IT concerns – doors opened to customers at 26645 State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel. The MINI of Wesley Chapel story had begun.

I arrived at around 9:30 am to a crowded and bustling service drive. Porters and writers were giving full facility tours with big smiles on their faces.
Guests were smiling and General Manager Malcolm Cheek was flying around inspecting every part of the operation. Technicians continued to PDI and detail
new MINI’s; a process held up by MINI receiving a few last minute permits only
days before.

The facility is one of only two MINI franchised dealerships in the country
with the signature 2nd story “Jewel box,” essentially a
2nd story glass box with a full car elevator. The other store is in
Madison Wisconsin. Many joked all day that our new MINI store was sleek enough
to become a night club after sales hours had ended. Customers enjoyed a spread
of bagels and MINI employees enjoyed well…organized chaos. The store seamlessly
flows from the service drive into sales but after just a few hours I realized
this store was busy!

With a crowded showroom far outnumbering the number of sales associates I was
most impressed by MINI’s sense of teamwork. It was truly a family affair with
Malcolm’s wife and daughter managing key positions and finding sales associates
for customers wanting test drives. Service Director Jason Faiella was bringing
cars for demonstration one by one out of PDI all the while interacting with
guests. Teri Cifredo the store admin was flying around showing cars, bringing
customers’ refreshments and always smiling. Malcolm and sales manager Larry
Stephens worked with customers one at a time in their office. Larry Morgan stood
at the door and shook hands and made sure every guest was having their needs

When the dust settled ten new customers had committed or were driving home in
a new MINI. Countless RO’s had been written and one thing was for certain: MINI
of Wesley Chapel has something special about it from the unique facility right
down to the smile on every associates face.

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