By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

For the fourth time in five years, the local BMW franchise received the coveted Center of Excellence title by concentrating on its daily routine.

That’s doesn’t mean winning is any easier, though.

“The bar always goes up, doesn’t it,” said Sheila Thomasson, director of marketing for Hendrick Imports — which includes Rick Hendrick BMW Charleston and sister Mini and Volvo stores.

The Charleston store was among 34 dealerships to earn the Center of Excellence distinction and the only top choice in South Carolina. It was one of four Hendrick stores to be cited, joining Hendrick BMW in Charlotte, Performance BMW in Chapel Hill, N.C., and BMW of Murrieta in Murrieta, Calif., Thomasson said.

About 10 percent of the 338 BMW dealerships in the U.S. won the excellence award. “We are excited,” Thomasson said. “It’s always hard to get it again, but it’s something we started focusing on a couple of years ago.” She said the criteria isn’t much different from what the dealership’s dozens of employees tackle every day. “We’re thankful BMW recognizes it.”

BMW of North America credited the winning stores as being the top performing BMW dealerships in the U.S. Dealers achieve “2013 Center of Excellence” status based on their 2012 performance in customer satisfaction, outstanding brand representation, operational excellence and profitability, the company said.

The manufacturer praised Rick Hendrick BMW Charleston for “demonstrating consistently superior performance, with a combination of sales leadership and customer satisfaction that placed them at the very top among BMW dealers.”

Center of Excellence recipients stemmed from 21 states.

“This year we have a strong mix of repeat and new winners,” said Ludwig Willisch, BMW of North America president and chief executive.

“We recognize not only these outstanding owners and operators but also their teams who continuously demonstrate the ability to perform in a highly competitive market,” said Peter Miles, executive vice president of operations for BMW of North America.

Singling out the “outstanding work” of the dealer network, the manufacturer said BMW Group in 2012 reached its best sales figure ever in the U.S. The group includes the BMW dealer network; autos from Rolls-Royce and Mini; and the metro Spartanburg-based BMW Manufacturing Co., which is the sole builder of the carmaker’s X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. For more information, visit www.bmwgroupna.com.

Thomasson said the dealership at 1518 Savannah Highway intends to celebrate the Center of Excellence distinction with all its employees but hasn’t finalized details.

“It’s a wonderful award,” she said.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.