Avid waterfowl hunter Marc Heitz knows ducks would rather land on a pond already populated by ducks. Heitz is also a Chevrolet dealer, and when it came time to build a new facility, he figured car shoppers were a lot like ducks.

"When people see other people on our lot, they're comfortable stopping," Heitz tells Automotive News.

The best way to attract people to his lot, he theorized, was to give them reasons beyond cars and trucks. His Norman, OK showroom has a 45-foot waterfall, an aquarium stocked with local fish species and animal tracks on the floor lead to an arcade for the kids.

Outside the log-cabin-like dealership are bear and elk statues, a picnic area and two dog parks. It feels more Bass Pro Shops than car dealer.

General Motors agrees that it's certainly not your average Chevrolet dealership. And because the Heitz building doesn't have Chevy's signature blue cladding and gold bowtie, GM says it will not pay Heitz his $250,000 quarterly dealer-excellence incentive. A GM spokesman said the company will be glad to reinstate the payments if only Heitz will modify the building to be in compliance with the corporate branding plan, including removing the animal footprints.

"It would be like putting socks on a rooster," Heitz tells AN. And it looks like Heitz is no fan of footware for fowl. He said he doesn't understand why GM wants to mess with something that's working (his dealership sold 1,900 vehicles in 2011), and he has no plans to change anything. Even if it costs him around $1 million a year. Maybe that's what "Chevy runs deep" means?


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  • 205 Comments
      Stevin
      • 2 Years Ago
      This dealership is literally right down the street from me and it's an awesome place to go. It also has a playground for kiddos and incredible service. He's right, this is working and GM should be happy with the dealership's performance.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stevin
        [blocked]
      Scr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obviously, this guy takes a a great deal of pride in his dealership, I've seen some downright AWFUL dealerships within the 'corporate guidelines' that the dealer doesn't sink a dime into. Weedy lots, terrible landscape, a 30 year old building with stick-on remodels that fall apart after a year. Filthy old interiors and 400 year old furniture. GM stores seem to also have the worst showrooms. Their corporate identity is just poor, at best.
      Judy Zik
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is just silly. Most chains allow special exemptions to corporate branding. For instance a McDonalds in a mountain ski resort will not look like the one you see on your typical Main St. Dealer standards are about making sure that things don't get shoddy. This looks like a clean well kept Dealership built on a local theme. An exception should be made.
      soonermike
      • 2 Years Ago
      I purchased my 2011 Equinox at Marc Heitz and the dealership not only looks great but more importantly it is a great dealership. If GM was smart they should emulate the ideas from this dealership and not snub them. Also not mentioned in the article is that the dealership is environmentally friendly by having an energy efficient layout, a windmill for electricity and flushless urinals. I purchased my Equinox on Mother's day for my wife. A sales lady caught wind of this (not even the one helping me out) and got me a giant red bow left over from Christmas so I could put it on top when I surprised her. So on top of all this they provide excellent customer service, another thing GM should look into...
        soonermike
        • 2 Years Ago
        @soonermike
        oh and I forgot to say GM should pay up! They obviously (1900 cars sold!) deserve the bonus.
      th0mb0ne
      • 2 Years Ago
      This looks nicer than pretty much any GM dealership I've ever been to. You can see passion for the product here. I understand having branding consistency, but sometimes you have to be flexible and know when something is a special case. This dealership looks like a destination, and clearly it's working.
      Andrew Castillo
      • 2 Years Ago
      That place would make a beautiful land rover dealer haha
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      That looks like a fun place to buy a car! They're definitely very good at displaying the important things.
      cotodecompton
      • 2 Years Ago
      well they say there is no such thing as bad publicity and this dealership definitely just got its fair share of free advertising. It does seem silly to penalize a successful dealership but from a corporate stand point rules are rules and im sure they are clearly defined in the brands guidelines. Big up to the dealership for handling this like a BOSS and not giving a ****. Don't mess with success!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @cotodecompton
        [blocked]
      GasMan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Except for the fake deer and the greenery that hasn't quite come in yet, I think it is well done. If GM had good management (and they don't), they should institute a special bonus program for dealerships with "inspiring local or artistic decor" that pays the same as the branded bonus and reward this guy. If enough dealers experimented with their own money maybe GM would find a formula that worked better than their own bland design scheme.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      This place looks really nice. I would totally go here over a regular dealership. This guy should consider coming up with his own COPO line like Don Yenko did. The Chevy dealership in my area looks like a shady used car lot.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      Messing with success generally means lost sales. Or something. I wouldn't screw with anything.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        If you want to be successful, find out what everyone else is doing, and then do something different.
      futuramautoblog
      • 2 Years Ago
      While what Mr Heitz has done is commandable for its own greatness, it was his decision to deviate from the corporate branding strategy. No need for GM to create an exception here. Conversely, if it is working for Mr Heitz, that's great. It's his choice to receive bonus or not.
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