Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet must build on its star power

Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet must build on its star power

- in Automotive

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It has a name with star power. Now, Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet needs to fuel that fame into car sales.

With new energy, processes and support from Feldman Automotive Group, employees at this large dealership are pumped to try to double or even triple sales from the level produced by the former Bobby Layman Chevrolet.

A visit last week from A-list Hollywood star and producer Wahlberg, who partnered with dealer Jay Feldman in July to buy the dealership, didn’t hurt.

“The energy level is way higher now, a lot of excitement brewing,” said Brian Gilmore, who became general manager of Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet on Aug. 3. He came from AutoNation Ford North Canton in northeast Ohio. Store employees know “this is going to impact our business when it comes to the name recognition, the traffic it’s going to generate. I think they all understand how big of an opportunity it is.”

While Wahlberg won’t be in Columbus too often, he said he will be involved and will have a presence in the dealership, which sold 200 new and used vehicles a month under previous ownership,

Case in point: Large TV screens in the service lounge and throughout the sales floor will allow Wahlberg to communicate with staff and customers.

“We’re going to do some cool stuff. … We’re creating this new technology called the virtual visitor, where at the press of a button, I can be on every screen of the store,” Wahlberg said. “We want to be as active as possible. We want to be here and be as visible as possible.”

The idea borrows from something Wahlberg does at his chain of Wahlburgers restaurants. Feldman, dealer principal of the Chevy store and CEO of Feldman Automotive Group, now with nine stores, called the system a giant FaceTime of sorts. It also will be used to give updates on Wahlberg’s life including his movies.

Taking advantage of Wahlberg’s social media popularity is part of the game plan, said Feldman, who met Wahlberg in 2013 in Detroit during the filming of the fourth installment of the Transformers movie series.

Going forward, Wahlberg and Feldman are interested in opening more dealerships together. They are looking for other locations, possibly in the Midwest.

The dealership will sell Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet merchandise ranging from T-shirts, hats and jewelry to key chains and license plate holders, Feldman said. And a Wahlburgers food truck will visit the store in the coming weeks to serve up burgers.

Fans also will be able to buy Mark Wahlberg customized vehicles complete with special logos stitched into floor mats and headrests.

“He’s going to autograph the car for the customer,” Feldman said.

Wahlberg got a chance to practice his car-selling chops on national TV last week in an appearance on the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in which he took a stab at selling an Equinox to the host. “We have the best deals,” he told Colbert.