Most of the Truckstops only have Subway and Popeyes Chicken. I guess I will be parking my Semi at the Toyota Dealer.
Coffee, Wi-Fi and comfy seating are par for the course in customer lounges at modern dealerships. But what if a customer has a bigger appetite for something like, say, a chicken sandwich?
Milton Martin Toyota in Gainesville, Ga., has that covered.
The dealership, which sells about 200 new vehicles a month, launched a satellite location of the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain in the lounge of its new dealership. The Chick-fil-A outlet and the dealership opened in September 2015.
Food and beverage offerings are increasingly common among dealership amenities. California dealer Bert Boeckmann, for instance, operates a full-service restaurant inside his Galpin Ford store in Van Nuys, helmed by a trained chef poached from a Beverly Hills hotel.
But Milton Martin's arrangement with Chick-fil-A is extraordinary, too, in that it brings together two established, national franchises, each with its own design and operating requirements.
A spokeswoman for the dealership says the chicken outlet is operated by a nearby Chick-fil-A franchisee, who handled all the details on the dealership's behalf, including setting up the food-service counter and working out design issues to comply with Chick-fil-A's and Toyota's standards.
Food is prepared at the nearby outlet and is brought in fresh, several times a day. The dealership serves about 150 or more customers daily from a pared-down menu of biscuit sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and other breakfast offerings in the morning, and the chain's fried chicken breast filet sandwiches for lunch. Just don't ask for waffle fries or nuggets.
"Really more than anything, it's a convenience for our customers," dealership General Manager Tommy Martin said. "Now that our customer base knows that we have the Chick-fil-A, a lot of people will plan their service visits around it."
Martin, who co-owns his store with his father, Mike, and uncle Ricky, said part of the allure was Chick-fil-A's customer service. The chain topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index's fast-food rankings in 2016 and 2015.
"When you look at how they treat customers, it's something that we knew we could stand behind," Martin said.
Chick-fil-A is a familiar brand in Georgia, with headquarters in Atlanta, about 60 miles south of Gainesville, and more than 200 outlets across the state.
And while it's not a profit center for Milton Martin, it's a low-risk arrangement. The Chick-fil-A counter is staffed by a restaurant employee. Preparing the food off-site avoids kitchen equipment and more stringent local health department rules, which the restaurant helped the dealership navigate. The Chick-fil-A outlet keeps the revenue it generates, and the Martin family doesn't charge rent.
"If they can come in, get an oil change in 30 minutes, get a chicken sandwich, sit in private, check a few emails, then that's a positive experience," Martin said.
And while dealers typically face factory-set design standards, Martin said Southeast Toyota Distributors found the idea "very unique."
"They gave us a lot of room," Martin said. "We worked very closely with [Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.] and SE Toyota and we had no obstacles."