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Lugoff Toyota ready to open new showroom
Lugoff Toyota
Lugoff Toyota General Manager Mark Mason Jr. (left) and New Car Sales Manager Samer Abraham stand in front of the dealerships new showroom, which opens Monday. - photo by Martin L. Cahn

Even though the façade won’t be completed by Monday, Lugoff Toyota’s new 14,000-square-foot showroom will be open, marking the end of Phase II of a three-phase upgrade for the dealership.

“We’ll start selling vehicles in here (Monday). The inside will be 100 percent done,” said Mark Mason Jr., Lugoff Toyota’s general manager and director of operations for Lugoff Toyota, Lugoff Ford and Carolina Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram. “The outside will be finished a couple of weeks later.”

Earlier this week, Mason Jr.’s contractors were putting carpeting down in offices, tiling bathrooms and even painting the floor of a covered service entrance next to the main showroom.

The showroom will hold five vehicles where salespeople -- sales phones -- will meet with prospective buyers.

“One hundred percent of sales will be handled on the showroom floor. There will be space for 30 plus guests to sit either café style or at tables. There’ll be no office to go back to,” Mason Jr. said.

That doesn’t mean the 13 or so salespeople won’t have offices, just that customers won’t have to go back to them to talk about their purchases. The two exceptions are new- and used-car sales managers, respectively Samer Abraham and Ralph Harper. Abraham and Harper, when they are not on the sales floor or in their own offices, will share a glass-enclosed to confer with customers privately when necessary.

Mason Jr. said the sales staff will occupy a large room down a hall from the center of the showroom.

“This is for when they’re not with customers, where they can make phone calls to customers and answers emails from the day before,” he said.

Customers entering the showroom will not only see the five vehicles being showcased, but also three 70-inch TV screens -- Mason Jr. said people will be able to watch Carolina games, if that’s what’s on -- and a 16-seat sales/service waiting area. There, customers will find a free soda fountain, cookies and two more (smaller) flat-screen TVs. Lugoff Toyota will also offer free WiFi.

Owners of cars purchased from Lugoff Toyota will now drive up into a service welcome bay next to the showroom. Mason Jr. said they will be met by a service advisor. After checking in their car, they can walk straight into the waiting area. Their vehicle will then be taken to a bay to be serviced. Phase I of Lugoff Toyota’s project involved installing two brand-new service bays. Phase III will see the existing bays upgraded, bringing the total to eight.

“We think that will be done in May,” Mason Jr. said, indicating that will be when the dealership holds an official grand re-opening.

The showroom also holds Mason Jr.’s office and that of his father, owner Mark Mason Sr., an employee break room and an employee wellness center full of equipment.

“They’ll have 24-hour access,” Mason Jr. said, adding that it’s a sound business decision to include it both for employees and the company with breaks in health insurance coverage.

Mason Sr., working with his son to oversee the final touches on the showroom, said business has been up even during construction.

“The sales staff has done a great job,” Mason Sr. said.

In fact, Mason Jr. said the staff has done so well, that Lugoff Toyota received the President’s Award while construction was going on around them.

“It is only given to the top 25 percent of Toyota dealers in terms of car sales and customer satisfaction,” Mason Jr. said. “Lugoff Toyota won it again for 2012, making it three years in a row that they have received the award.”