Ballas Buick GMC in Toledo OH has been reviewed by ABEC’s Small Business Review

[ The following article was featured in ABEC's Small Business Review ]

We do business with character.” Ballas Buick GMC, Inc. serves the Toledo and surrounding areas guided by this motto.  Customers, employees and the community at large are beneficiaries of the character, courtesy and moral fiber that Ballas Buick GMC has provided the community over the years. With a singular dealership, Ballas distances itself from of the mega-dealership image. “I’m in it to do it right,” said owner Marianne Ballas.

Ballas purchased the dealership in 2004 after the passing of original owner, George Ballas. The late George Ballas served as Marianne’s mentor for many years and she credits him for many of the business skills serving her today. “I quote George every day,” she said.

Marianne celebrates forty years of experience at the same dealership. “I started in 1969 as a clerk and receptionist to pay my way through college,” she said. As an elementary education major at the University of Toledo, she watched many of her friends graduate within the major yet unable to find employment in education. She continued working at Ballas Buick GMC, taking advantage of training opportunities like the GMC accounting school. She eventually became the dealership’s book keeper and cashier. “We had a one-girl office and I was it. I just decided to stay.”

“Neither of my two grandmothers ever drove a car, now I own my own dealership. Only in America can something like that happen in only two generations,” Ballas said.

For many years, Marianne ran the Budget Rental Car portion of the Ballas dealership. “I was running a business within the business. I built an entire skill set. I did the hiring, bought and sold cars, made insurance adjustments, negotiated contracts. I became bottom-line oriented,” she said.

Nationally, less than one percent of car dealerships are owned by women. GM’s program, the Women’s Retail Network, helps women within the industry as they work toward or take on the role of dealership owner. The program was vital in helping Marianne purchase the dealership franchise, offering a financing partnership that she will pay off next year.

Buick GMC responded to 2008’s economic crisis and subsequent gutting of the automobile industry by transforming the products coming out of Detroit. Marianne describes the first version of the Buick Enclave as the company’s first renaissance project. The Baby Enclave debuts in 2012 and is a compact version of the original Enclave. Marianne’s mom purchased the first new Verano sold at Ballas this year, a premium luxury compact car that boasts 32 miles per gallon. “Buick is the number one seller in China and is also very popular in South America,” she said, describing its appeal as somewhat of a European or continental style with impressive technology, innovation and power. She notes that the average age of today’s Buick Regal buyer is forty-two.

New and higher emission standards established by the government are already evolving into new vehicle production. Marianne said, “It is the right thing to do and we need to get away from foreign oil dependency, but pushing too fast is going to drive the price of cars up too fast for the average consumer.”

Ballas is proud of the contributions given back to the community by area auto dealers through an organization called Auto Dealers United for Kids. She chaired the gala event called “Cars are the Stars” last year when the group exceeded the one million dollar mark in gifting to kids programs and local charities. She said that it is the most successful regional charitable program among car dealerships in the country. The 2012 event is scheduled for Jan. 25. She is also president of the University of Toledo’s Women in Philanthropy organization which has gifted over $150,000 back to the University. She was recently awarded the Pacemaker of the Year Award from U.T., only the second woman to receive this honor. The award combining business excellence with both community and university support and places her name among a legacy of individuals who have earned the award over its fifty year history.

“My philosophy is that you have to give back where you earn and learn. It is a moral obligation. When you take money out of a community, when a community supports you and your business, you want your community to grow and prosper,” she said.

Ballas has matured in the business and knows it from the inside out, due to her many years of experience in numerous aspects of a dealership. That experience has landed her in positions of trust on boards representing Buick GM dealerships and her leadership is recognized on both local and national levels. She encourages women to consider the automobile dealership business when choosing a career. “Don’t be afraid,” she says. “It’s not the same ‘good old boys’ network as in the past. Women come to the table with different ideas and express them in a little different way. I think it softens the whole atmosphere in the car business.”

“Find something you love to do and attach yourself to someone you admire. Use them as a mentor and attach yourself to that star and just learn. It will eventually raise you up.”
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You can call on Ballas at 419.535.1000 or stop by at 5715 Central Ave.  Toledo OH 43615.   

Ballas Honors & Distinctions:

  • #1 volume Buick dealership in Ohio (2010)
  • GM Mark of Excellence- 2009 & 2010-
    • Only awarded to the top 50 dealers defining them as the “finest dealers who have committed themselves to unsurpassed performance and customer satisfaction.”
  • BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics Winner- 2007
  • UT College of Business & Innovation’s Business Pacemaker of the Year 2011
  • 5/3 Bank Platinum Dealer Award
  • Professional Parts Guild Dealership Award
  • President of the Buick/GMC Local Marketing Group (Marianne Ballas)
  • Elected to the Buick/GMC National Dealer Council (Marianne Ballas)
  • Board of Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce (Marianne Ballas)
  • University of Toledo Foundation Board member (Marianne Ballas)
  • Board of Toledo Hospital (Marianne Ballas)

Verano Arrives at Ballas Buick GMC, Toledo OH

Toledo Buick dealer, Ballas Buick GMC has the Buick Verano available for you to test drive and get great information from our Buick Verano Product Specialist. Buick calls the 2012 Verano its first compact luxury sedan.

Verano is available NOW, the latest model in a product renaissance that began with the Enclave and continued with the LaCrosse and Regal. Like them, Verano is distinguished by luxury and technology, including 10 standard air bags, an available heated steering wheel and a next-generation radio system with OnStar-powered connectivity that enables seamless communication between the Verano and the driver’s smart phone.

An Ecotec 2.4L and six-speed automatic powertrain combination is standard and delivers an estimated 177 horsepower (132 kW) and 170 lb.-ft. torque (230 Nm), 0-60 mph performance of 8.0 seconds and an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. A 2.0L turbo engine will be offered in the future.

“Verano expands our lineup and gives Ballas Buick GMC the opportunity to offer a wider variety of products to our customers and the general public.  This also means growth and that is always a good thing.  The new generation of customers recognizes the superior design, performance and technology the Buick Verano offers,” said Marianne Ballas, president/owner of Ballas Buick GMC.

Come test drive one today.  You can reach us at www.ballasbuickgmc.com, by clicking here or by picking up the phone and calling 419.535.1000. 

Extended Warranty Policies

Ballas Buick GMC offers a selection of extended warranty policies to our customers for all new vehicles sales (including the GM Protection Plan) and many Used or Certified Pre-Owned vehicles.  They can be included in your total car payment, or purchased within the first 12 months.  Customers often wonder if purchasing an extended warranty for their vehicle is worth the extra cost and if it has any value.  Some customers scoff at the thought, thinking dealerships are looking to take advantage of a customer by selling a seemingly ‘worthless’ product.   In reality, extended warranty packages are smart and well worth the small cost.

An Insurance Policy
Extended Warranty is very much like an Insurance Policy.  We don’t have insurance because we need it every day.  We have it because we might need it someday.  It’s better to have it when you need it, than not have it at all.  This is especially true for those who keep vehicles past the manufacturers’ warranty period and for the vast majority of vehicles on the market with electronic parts.

Tom Torbjornsen; writer for AOL Autos and a veteran of 37 years in the auto service industry;  wrote, “If you keep a vehicle beyond its warranty period, than I highly recommend an extended warranty. Consider the cost of repairs. The average transmission replacement is around $2,500. Engines cost in the neighborhood of $4,000. In-vehicle electronics can cost a small fortune. Be smart and get an extended warranty on a vehicle if you are going to keep it beyond the factory or dealer warranty.”

Know What’s Covered On Your Warranty – Manufacturer versus Extended
Items such as brakes, wiper blades or tires are not covered on either because they are considered normal wear and tear on vehicle. 

In an article written by Torbjornsen he provided insights to the manufacturer’s warranty plans.

Many people assume that a car warranty entitles them to repairs regardless of environmental conditions, maintenance requirements, and/or length of time/number of miles on the vehicle.

A car warranty is not an entitlement. It is an agreement between you and the car manufacturer! The purchaser of the warranty is responsible to follow the specified maintenance requirements set forth by the manufacturer.

Then, and only then, is the manufacturer obligated to perform any repairs due to a defect from poor workmanship or a failed part for the time or mileage set forth by the terms of the warranty agreement. 

To protect the customer, car manufacturers pore over every warranty claim that comes into their system. False claims made by customers or dishonest service centers, increase costs which ends up getting past back to the customers, the good one and the naughty ones.  Alas, such close inspection of warranty claims is interpreted by some consumers as an attempt to get out of paying for the repair.

In reality, the repair may not qualify under the warranty terms due to unusual abuse of the vehicle, expiration of the warranty or never having had an oil change.

An extended warranty is looking for the same false claims.  However, they often cover items on your vehicle not covered in the manufacturers’ warranty.  We all love our power windows.  But what happens when they are stuck in the down position?  And it’s getting ready to rain?  Ut-oh . . .that’s an expensive repair.  Are you going to drive around with plastic over the window, risking further damage to the paint and upholstery?

Getting an extended warranty on your vehicle is smart in the long run.  Ballas Buick GMC highly encourages obtaining one on many vehicles.  As Ben Franklin said, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Ballas Buick GMC Speculates 2013 Encore is “Mini Enclave”?

 Ballas Buick- GMC, the largest Buick dealer in Ohio, is letting the cat out of the bag.  Located in Toledo, OH; Ballas Buick GMC is eager to see this product in our showroom soon.  We saw a prototype of the mini-Enclave; also known as the Encore; at a recent meeting with GM.  It is a very nicely designed, well thought out and will accommodate almost any need. 

[from BAutos.com]
From what the insiders say, we might see a new compact SUV in the form of 2013 Buick Encore.

As per the sources, after the release of the much talked about compact sedan, Verano, Encore will be the next project of the company.

The vehicle is speculated to be largely based on the pre-existing successful SUV, Enclave.

Encore, also referred sometimes as “Baby SUV” or “Baby Enclave” is expected to show traits of the Envision Concept vehicle shown by the car manufacturer at on of the auto shows few months ago.

Some anticipate that the vehicle will ride on General Motor’s Gamma global subcompact architecture, which is also the underlying platform of the vehicles like Opel Meriva. Then there are others who think that the mini SUV would be based on the much larger Delta platform.

Verano is also developed on Delta platform. Finally there is a group of experts who think that the Encore SUV would be a something totally different and would not ride on either Delta or Gamma platform.

As per some of the latest rumors, some even say that the vehicle might be based on General Motors Theta platform as seen in the successful SUVs like GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox.

The exterior design of the vehicle is said to be partially derived from Enclave and Chevrolet Captiva, which is a successful SUV in Europe and Asia and is based on the same Theta platform.

The details of the speculated crossover are still not available but is it expected to debut sometime in 2012 as 2013 model. The vehicle should debut after the release of Verano. With the entry level models like Encore and Verano, Buick is trying to lure the younger generation buyers who are on the look out for an entry level luxury vehicle.

2013 Buick Encore has not been officially announced by General Motors and everything written or heard is pretty much just a rumor.

Read article here.

GMC Terrain Rated #4 Top Most Affordable Comcact SUV

2012 GMC Terrain Review From U.S. News & World Report

The 2012 GMC Terrain; available at Ballas Buick GMC, located in Toledo, OH; ranks 4 out of 23 Affordable Compact SUVs. This ranking is based on U.S. News & World report’s analysis of 29 published reviews and test drives of the GMC Terrain, and an analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2012 GMC Terrain has a high base price, but buyers get a stand-out exterior, a standard rearview camera and plenty of passenger space. 

Unlike most compact SUVs, which have round, simple exteriors and a bland list of standard interior features, the 2012 GMC Terrain has rugged, truck-like styling that suggests parents are headed off-road rather than to the grocery store, and comes packed with standard features like Bluetooth and a rearview camera. On top of that, the GMC Terrain has a lot of passenger space, and a sliding second row that increases leg or cargo room. The Terrain does have less cargo space than competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but if you need plenty of room for your teenagers, it may be a compromise you’re willing to make.

The Terrain comes with a lot of standard features, but reviewers hope that GMC will tweak the Terrain’s standard four-cylinder engine and optional V6. The four-cylinder is underpowered, and test drivers even say the V6 engine’s horsepower is misleading.

Overall, the Terrain is perfect for moms and dads who want something other than a typical family SUV, reviewers say, and add that the 2012 GMC Terrain deserves a slot at the top of your shopping list because overall, it’s a great family vehicle.

Details: GMC Terrain

The 2012 GMC Terrain is available in four trim levels: SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1 and SLT-2. Because Terrain hasn’t changed much, this review uses test drives from earlier models.

  • “GMC’s smallest SUV deserves consideration for passenger accommodations and overall refinement. Compared with the similar Chevrolet Equinox, Terrain offers unique styling, additional standard equipment, and available cloth seating that is notably upmarket of its sibling.” — Consumer Guide
  • “In the Terrain, GMC has created a rugged looking compact, deceiving in size and with impressively good fuel economy. Loaded with features and priced to compete with segment leader such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Terrain is an appealing choice for those who like their trucks to look like trucks, even when they’re not really trucks.” — Kelley Blue Book
  • “If the handsome and cohesive design is any indicator, this could be GMC’s best small SUV ever.” — Car and Driver

Terrain Performance – 8.0 (Very Good)

The 2012 GMC Terrain has car-like performance and excellent fuel economy with its base four-cylinder engine, but it isn’t as fun to drive as the Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-7, even when you opt for the V6 engine. 

Terrain Exterior – 7.5 (Good)

Parents who are avoiding the Honda CR-V’s “mom car” reputation might like the 2012 GMC Terrain’s rugged, boxy exterior that houses a family-friendly interior. 

Terrain Interior – 8.9 (Very Good)

The 2012 GMC Terrain doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V, but in exchange for less space, the Terrain has more standard features.

Terrain Safety – NA

The 2012 GMC Terrain receives a high overall score from the federal government. Read More

Terrain Reliability – NA

The Terrain has a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that is typical of affordable SUVs.

 Source:  U.S. News & World Report

U.S.News Scores

Overall: 8.6
Performance: 8.0
Exterior: 7.5
Interior: 8.9
Safety: NA
Reliability: NA

Ballas Buick-GMC Expands

Ballas Buick GMC expands

Written by Duane Ramsey | | news@toledofreepress.com

Ballas Buick GMC is expanding and remodeling its facility to create a better experience for customers and to comply with General Motors’ new image for its dealerships.

“We are excited about making it a more premium experience for the customer,” said Marianne Ballas, owner of Ballas Buick GMC. “The expansion is a refinement to improve the customer experience to what they want and deserve.”

Construction has begun on the expansion and remodeling project at Ballas, which is scheduled for completion in late December. Ballas said the dealership plans to hold an open house in early 2012 depending upon its completion.

The first phase of construction will add two new-car bays to the east side of the dealership for new-car delivery. It will give the front façade a complete facelift to comply with GM’s standards for Buick GMC dealerships in the U.S.

The second phase will involve enclosing the service lane and adding a quick lube center. Customers will drive inside for all service and not have to deal with poor weather conditions.

Marianne Ballas and Todd Hehl

Construction is being done by union workers under the management of Rudolph|Libbe Inc.

“Choosing to do business with a local company and using union contractors was an important component to our construction plans,” said Todd Hehl, general manager of Ballas Buick-GMC.

During construction, it will be business as usual with little change to the customer experience, said Hehl, who has served as general manager for seven of his 23 years at the dealership.

“Construction means that business is good and we are in a growth mode,” Ballas said.

She reported the dealership has experienced 20 consecutive months of increases in sales compared to the previous year.

“People are moving back to American-made premium products and Buick is the fastest growing brand in America,” Ballas said.

Ballas said she is excited about new models and technology being developed by Buick and GMC.

The new E-assist hybrid technology works off a six-speed transmission being built at the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo. When the car slows down, it is powered by an ion battery, she said.

“I call it a hybrid of a hybrid that will be available in Regal and LaCrosse models. It increases fuel economy by 25 percent,” Ballas said.

Buick’s new models include the Baby Enclave mini-crossover, Verano luxury compact car and the Regal Grand Sport performance car.

“The car business is an exciting and wonderful business but it comes with a lot of risk,” Ballas said.

The Ballas dealership has been a fixture in the Toledo community since it was established in 1970 by George Ballas. Marianne has worked at the dealership since 1971 and celebrated her 40th anniversary there Aug. 19.

“George was my mentor long before we were married. I learned everything about life, details in business and philanthropy from George,” she said.

She has served as owner of the dealership since George passed away in 2002, although her transition to owner wasn’t automatic. She attended GM’s dealer candidate school before he died.

Following his death, she operated the business for 18 months and earned GM’s approval to own it. She obtained financing to buy the dealer franchise and the property it occupies from his estate. Her two sons, Tim and Jeff Robinson who grew up in the business, serve as sales managers at the dealership. They have given her five beautiful grandchildren as well, Ballas said.

Ballas will serve as chairperson of the 2012 Auto Show Gala in January which is expected to surpass $1 million in contributions to local charities since it began nine years ago.

“I believe that we have an obligation to give back to the community,” Ballas said.

Her dealership is participating in Autos for Athletics, an initiative by Sylvania area auto dealers to raise funds to build and improve athletic facilities in the Sylvania School District. For every customer who purchases or leases a vehicle or has service performed before Nov. 25, it will make a contribution to the Sylvania Athletic Foundation’s “Champions Campaign.”