Driving Excellence in Auto Dealership Construction

Crain Construction Site Crain Work on a Sunny Day

Every commercial construction project requires its own set of best practices depending on the industry and location of the job site. For example, auto dealerships are often built with high-end finishes, unique details, and a mix of retail, service, and office spaces. The end goal is not simply to build a structure to showcase inventory but to create an excellent customer experience that can help sell vehicles, generate revenue, and build brand loyalty. Private auto dealership groups know their business better than anyone else and want to ensure the new dealership is built to meet their specific needs.

Crain Construction has had the opportunity to work with several auto dealership groups as the general contractor. We’re proud of the dealership work we’ve completed, including partnering with Performance Automotive Group on numerous projects and recently completing the award-winning Prancing Horse of Nashville Ferrari dealership for Dream Motors Group. Our experience has helped us learn the nuances of the automotive industry and understand the unique goals and needs of every new project. After more than four decades of experience building automotive dealerships around Nashville and across the southeast, here are a few of the best practices we’ve learned: 

1. Identify an approach that meets the needs of both auto manufacturers and local ordinances.

Auto dealerships must meet the specifications of two gate-keeping entities: the associated manufacturer and local building and code departments. Many manufacturers implement rigorous quality control processes to ensure that the construction meets the highest standards and adheres to brand guidelines. But in some cases, dealership specifications don’t align with local ordinances.  

It’s essential to partner with a contractor who knows local building codes and zoning regulations and has a solid relationship with architects to navigate these challenges. 

2. Develop a strategic procurement plan for high-end finishes. 

Auto dealerships often go all out to impress customers with high-end finishes, sometimes rivaling those in luxury hotels. For example, the Ferrari dealership in Nashville sourced materials from around the globe, including tile and furnishings from Italy, specialty glass from Spain, and lighting features from France.

This requires an intentional procurement strategy and a strong relationship with suppliers and subcontractors who specialize in this type of work. Our team worked strategically and created multiple contingency plans to avoid potential delays. 

3. Manage safety and logistical concerns for tight site projects and occupied renovations. 

Safety is paramount for any construction project, but it’s essential when remodeling an auto dealership that is still open to the public. From rerouting auto and foot traffic to managing dust, noise, and debris, having a plan that’s comprehensive, calculated, and conscious of the customer experience is essential. That’s why the contractor and project owner need to develop a collaborative plan and maintain communication throughout the project. 

4. Recognize tight timelines and seasonal challenges.  

Dealerships are often constructed within tight timelines to coincide with new model releases or promotional events. At the same time, seasonal challenges could impact construction schedules. This is another reason why it can be helpful for contractors to get involved early in the design and preconstruction process

Partner with a contractor who can navigate seasonal challenges in commercial construction. Create a detailed construction schedule built around time-sensitive factors — such as new model releases and promotional events — and account for potential weather-related delays.

5. Partner with a contractor who can address ongoing maintenance and building element changes.

Auto dealerships need to keep their branding current to maintain their franchise agreements. In many cases, they may need to remodel their dealerships every few years to reflect the latest brand standards. Dealership owners may also need to update their facilities over time to expand or accommodate changing customer needs. 

With that in mind, it’s crucial to partner with a local contractor who will offer ongoing support, address any issues that may arise, and continue to assist you even after the project is finished. A reputable contractor understands how the dealership works over time and plans for future construction needs while working on the current project.

Looking to Build or Remodel an Auto Dealership in Nashville?

Crain Construction is a leading general contractor in Nashville with decades of experience in constructing automotive dealerships. We are committed to building strong relationships with our project owners and providing them with the highest quality construction services.

If you are planning to build or remodel an automotive dealership, we would be happy to discuss your project with you. Please contact us today to learn more about our approach.

Related Projects

90 Years of Giving Back: Crain’s Commitment to Community Involvement
90 Years of Giving Back: Crain's Commitment to Community Involvement

Crain Construction was founded on the principles of people over profits and community over competition. This commitment to serving others is evident in everything we do, from our relationships with clients to our giving back to the community. As we celebrate our 90th anniversary in Nashville, we’re proud to recognize our philanthropic culture and the...

From Produce to Permits: Navigating the Complexities of Grocery Store Construction
From Produce to Permits: Navigating the Complexities of Grocery Store Construction

The grocery business can be profitable for commercial developers, especially in a growing city like Nashville. According to a recent report by CBRE, the average rent for grocery stores is higher than other types of commercial space, such as shopping malls and retail stores. Of course, there are also some unique challenges when it comes...

Winter Warriors: How We Support Employees and Subcontractors in Cold Weather
Winter Warriors: How We Support Employees and Subcontractors in Cold Weather

Winter in Tennessee can be a beautiful time of year, but it can also be brutal. Working outdoors in cold weather can be challenging, especially for construction professionals. A few weeks ago, we polled our community on Linkedin about their least favorite season as a commercial construction professional. Winter was the unsurprising winner. And if...

A professional portrait of Brian Hopwood, Superintendent at Crain Construction
Spotlight: An Interview with Brian Hopwood, Superintendent at Crain Construction

At Crain, we’ve worked hard to build a reputation for genuinely caring about the well-being of our employees and passing along wisdom and knowledge to help others grow. These are the core values that inform the way we work at Crain, and Brian Hopwood embodies these characteristics well. Brian’s unwavering dedication to the team, experience,...


We partner with organizations to invest, give back and make a positive impact on the communities where we live and work.


Get the latest Crain Construction Blogs and interesting insights about our projects and community endeavors here.

When you’re ready to build, we’re here for you

Reach out to start a conversation with our team.