Bayou Automotive expanding Belle Terre dealerships in 2022
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021
LAPLACE — One of the fastest-growing dealerships in Louisiana will soon begin a major renovation and expansion project in LaPlace.
Bayou Automotive Group has grown by leaps and bounds since acquiring the Ford dealership on Belle Terre Boulevard in March 2018. It only took one year to become the fastest-growing Ford dealership in the Southern region encompassing Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and parts of Tennessee. What began with approximately 30 vehicle sales per month in 2018 has skyrocketed to 150 sales per month in 2021 despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.
Bayou Automotive has also operated the Nissan dealership in New Orleans since December 2019. After considering moving the Ford dealership to a more visible location along the Interstate, co-owners Ben Gaiennie and Brian Stewart committed to renovating the Belle Terre location to accommodate the growing business. Soon after, Bayou Automotive acquired the neighboring Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership, hoping to have both stores work out of that location as the Ford renovation got underway.
The acquisition was finalized on August 26, 2021. Three days later, everything changed. Hurricane Ida tore through the Chrysler dealership, knocking out glass in the showroom and pulling down the ceiling and HVAC system. The building was rendered a total loss, but that setback did not deter Bayou Automotive from continuing to invest in the economic development of St. John the Baptist Parish.
Since Hurricane Ida, the entire staff of the Ford and Chrysler locations have squeezed into the Ford building. Renovations on the Bayou Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram building are set to begin in January 2022, with the Bayou Ford renovation expected to begin soon after. The simultaneous projects will greatly expand Bayou Automotive’s footprint on Belle Terre. While the Chrysler building will expand from 15,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet, the 26-year-old Ford building will double in size from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet to better meet the needs of the community.
“We have completely outgrown our building. The building is outdated, and it’s not accommodating to our current sales or service needs,” Gaiennie said. “We’re very excited about having both of the new stores in the area. It’s unique to have two stores built at the same time on the same piece of property.”
All of the Bayou Automotive locations are committed to excellence customer service. New and pre-owned vehicle inventories offer something for every lifestyle and budget. Bayou will also buy cars with no strings attached. Full service and maintenance coverage including but not limited to oil changes, tire rotations and engine overhauls are offered for major makes and models.
What truly sets Bayou Automotive apart is a commitment to transparency, according to outside sales manager Robert Tamplain.
“I’ve always said that we’re a new dealership in town with a totally new way of doing business in the River Region. Part of our motto is being totally transparent, full disclosure, information overload,” Tamplain said.
That means that every person looking to purchase a vehicle will receive a full breakdown of sales price, discounts, rebates, taxes, fees, trade value, down payment, monthly payments, terms and more.
Bayou Automotive kept the pedal to the metal during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic using strategies that were in place well before the stay-at-home order.
“When we started our business here, we knew we weren’t in Baton Rouge on Airline Highway or in Metairie on Veterans. We knew we would have to do some things differently to sell more cars. From day one, we focused a lot of our attention on vehicle delivery and sales and service pick-up,” Gaiennie said. “If someone needs an oil change, we’ll pick up their car and bring it in for service. We have six full-time drivers who focus on that.”
By May 2020, the company had improved its sales by 200% without furloughs or lay-offs.
Hurricane Ida presented its own share of challenges. Both of Bayou’s LaPlace stores were closed for two weeks after the storm. Gaiennie adopted a morning routine of waking up at 3 a.m. and driving to New Roads to purchase gas for his employees to get to and from work.
It’s been a tough road, but the future is looking up, and Gaiennie said sales are holding strong as people get their lives and their vehicles back in working order.
For more information, visit bayouautomotive.com.