"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?