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Car dealer steers a victory

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  • | 11:00 a.m. February 3, 2017
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Tampa-area auto dealer John Williams and some fellow auto executives spent a portion of the past few months checking out all kinds of luxury — for research.

Williams, owner of Williams Automotive Group, visited Mercedes, BMW and even Rolls-Royce dealerships in Florida and beyond. He also checked out St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotel locations. The goal was to see firsthand how to cater to and work with high-end buyers because Williams is about to become a luxury dealer himself, with Lexus of Wesley Chapel. “It was an incredible experience,” says Williams of the tours.

Williams has had success in auto sales, with Wesley Chapel Toyota, Wesley Chapel Honda and Tampa Honda, so he didn't need a sales primer.

But Lexus is a different breed. He had to beat out dozens of other dealers nationwide who wanted to win a rare Lexus franchise contract, for starters. The new Lexus location is going up on eight acres next to Wesley Chapel Toyota, near State Road 54 in Pasco County. It's planned as a 60,000-sqaure-foot complex, and includes two full-service car washes and a state-of-the-art sales center. Williams says it will be at least a $20 million project, and the new dealership will have about 100 employees

The cost, plus the rarity of having a chance at Lexus, is why Williams went on his luxury fact-finding mission. “We are not acquiring a dealership,” Williams tells Coffee Talk. “We are building one.”
Lexus of Wesley Chapel, he adds, is also a win for Pasco County and the Tampa region, given how picky Lexus is. The company studies demographics and buying patterns, and sometimes goes years between awarding new locations. Dealers who want in also to have complete an extensive application. “I think this speaks specifically to our community and the market we represent,” says Williams. “It's also a huge compliment to our organization.”


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