Sweeney Embraces Future of Car Buying


Celebrating the past, while embracing what the future holds. That’s Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC’s outlook in 2021. The family-owned auto dealership is celebrating 100 years in business. 

“There’s pride in looking back and acknowledging what we’ve become and how we’ve served our community. But we’re in a competitive business that’s always changing. To continue to lead we must always have an eye on the future,” says Alexa Sweeney Blackann, president.

One trend that Sweeney has embraced is expanding the online buying experience. The dealership debuted its “Fast Pass” feature this past year for buyers who want to complete more of the transaction virtually.

“Almost all transactions start online,” Sweeney Blackann says. “We’ve seen buyers go from completing about 30% of the sales process online to 60% since COVID hit. It’s car buying on buyers’ terms and we’re giving the customer more choice about how they want to engage with us.”

The goal is to enable more transparency between the buyer and dealership and to expedite the purchase process. Buyers can complete most of the paperwork and transaction online, including valuing their trade, selecting lease or financing terms, getting a video of vehicles and choosing pickup and delivery options. Paperwork can be sent by FedEx to the buyer’s home.

For those who prefer a traditional experience, they’ll see an exciting lineup of new models throughout the year, including the next wave of GM’s new electric vehicles.

Highlighting that group is the full-electric Hummer EV, which should arrive in the fall. Despite a sticker price that starts at $100,000, the dealership has taken more than 25 orders, Sweeney Blackann says. The Chevy Bolt EUV, a sport utility all-electric vehicle, also debuts this year.

A refreshed Buick Envision arrived this quarter. The Chevrolet Trailblazer and Blazer are outperforming expectations, and there’s high-demand for the newly designed Corvette, Tahoe and Yukon, she adds.

Another facet of the business that is changing rapidly that Sweeney has embraced is in the service department. New and future vehicles are more computers than they are gears and grease. That means a different type of auto technician is required.

Sweeney has been ahead of the curve in this regard and has been actively recruiting and building a team of specially trained technicians. The new Buick GMC dealership building, opened in 2020, is outfitted to accommodate the vehicles of tomorrow, as well, Sweeney Blackann says.

Once again, Sweeney outperformed all other Mahoning Valley dealerships in both new and used car sales, she adds. Despite the pandemic it also remained among the top Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealers in the state.