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posted: 12/7/2013 12:50 AM

Biggers Chevrolet poised to meet pent-up demand

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  • A steady stream of return customers keeps Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin near the top in satisfaction surveys, owner Jim Leichter says.

      A steady stream of return customers keeps Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin near the top in satisfaction surveys, owner Jim Leichter says.
    Courtesy of Biggers Chevrolet

  • A row of Chevy Sonic models at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.

       A row of Chevy Sonic models at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Biggers Chevrolet is located along East Chicago Street in Elgin.

       Biggers Chevrolet is located along East Chicago Street in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • A view of the service department work bays at Biggers Chevrolet.

       A view of the service department work bays at Biggers Chevrolet.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • The service department at Biggers Chevrolet offers buyers of new vehicles free car washes for life.

       The service department at Biggers Chevrolet offers buyers of new vehicles free car washes for life.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • A view of the showroom at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.

       A view of the showroom at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, left, and Impala at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin. Both models were given significant redesigns for 2014 that have earned rave reviews.

       The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, left, and Impala at Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin. Both models were given significant redesigns for 2014 that have earned rave reviews.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • A showroom view of Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.

       A showroom view of Biggers Chevrolet in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

 
By Arlene Miles
Daily Herald correspondent

Throughout the years, customer service has remained a hallmark of Biggers Chevrolet, a longtime fixture in the city of Elgin. That commitment to customer satisfaction sustained the dealership through the Great Recession and the restructuring of General Motors several years ago, owner Jim Leichter said, because a steady stream of return customers continued to come to Biggers Chevrolet.

Now the dealership is poised for a resurgent economy and pent-up demand for new vehicles. As one of four dealerships under the Biggers' umbrella, Biggers Chevrolet continues to maintain a stable employee roster, including many people who have worked for the company for 20 to 30 or more years.

Leichter recently talked to us about the auto industry and his plans for continued success.

How did you get started in the auto business?

"My father, Leo Leichter, emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1952 and bought the dealership from Jerry Biggers in 1969. Dad passed away in 2004 and was a great man. I worked at the dealership in every department as I grew up and during summers when I was in college.

"I got my bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1986 and my MBA in 1989 from the University of Chicago -- the same year we opened our second dealership. I had several opportunities on Wall Street and struggled to make a decision. I decided to return to the car business, which was my love. It was the best decision I've made."

What is your business philosophy and who influenced you?

"I got my business philosophy from my father. The right way to treat people is with respect, both customers and employees. He did this in the day when not everyone was treated with respect in the car business.

"We have a very high quality of employees on our staff here of more than 100 people, from our porters to our managers. One of the main reasons for our success is our general manager, Bob Colwell. He has been with us for almost 20 years and is a great leader and role model."

What sets Biggers apart from other dealerships?

"The way we treat our customers is really the main reason for our success. Our high customer satisfaction is unparalleled as we are consistently ranked near the top in the state in overall customer satisfaction, which is unheard of in a dealership that has such high volume. We know the impact of what our customer reviews bring. I would encourage anyone to feel free to click on customer reviews from many different sources, such as Dealerrater, Google, Yahoo and our own website, to see how happy our customers have been and how they have been treated by sales and service.

"This commitment to customer satisfaction spreads through the other dealerships in our group, with each one ranking at the top of the state, region, or entire country in customer satisfaction. We are also one of the highest volume Chevrolet dealerships in Illinois."

What vehicle are you most excited about in the Chevrolet lineup?

"I am very impressed with the all new 2014 Impala. The car is absolutely gorgeous and marks the first time that a domestic sedan has ever topped the Consumer Reports list of top sedans on the market.

"The all new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, I think, is the most beautiful vehicle GM has ever built. It has the looks of a $300,000 sports car with a starting price in the low $50,000s."

What does the future look like for Biggers Chevrolet?

"We're expecting another great year in 2014. With the pent-up demand in the marketplace, we are seeing a lot of older vehicles coming in for trade ins. With the quality of the vehicles in the Chevrolet lineup and the aggressive pricing, now is the time to purchase.

"Chevrolet's quality ratings are consistently higher than the imports, so we are seeing more first-time Chevrolet buyers than ever coming into our showroom. We currently have a promotion in conjunction with Butera Markets where we give qualified buyers a $25 gift certificate to the food store with test drives through the end of December.

"We remodeled the entire dealership within GM's image program a few years ago to create a state-of-the-art shopping experience for our customers, including a waiting area with several workstations and free Wi-Fi, games for the kids and more."

Why should customers continue to bring their cars to Biggers to have them serviced?

"What customers don't realize is how competitive we are with independents on maintenance or how important it is that their cars are dealt with by factory-trained technicians. When you bring your vehicle in for service, you have guaranteed upfront pricing without pulling any games.

"We also have a huge fleet of free loaners, which grows monthly, to provide convenience to our customers. You also get free car washes for life. In fact, we recently upgraded our car wash to a state-of-the-art facility."

How does Biggers give back to the community?

"We thoroughly believe in supporting the community. We are currently a collection site for Toys for Tots, and donate a van for the entire holiday season that is used exclusively for toy pickups and deliveries. We host fundraising events for the USO and are involved with the local Boys' and Girls' clubs.

"We're also involved with Gigi's Playhouse, Down syndrome Awareness Centers, and sponsor a lot of local schools and churches. We sponsor several of Elgin and South Elgin youth baseball and softball teams."

What do you like to do you in spare time?

"I spend as much time as I can with my family. My wife, Lynne, has her own business, a self-service frozen yogurt store in The Arboretum in South Barrington called Bamboo Spoon Frozen Yogurt Café that she has operated since 2012 and is doing very well."

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