Understanding the importance of the in-store experience and how to make the customer feel as if they are part of a larger community or story will help your brand establish itself in the customer’s hearts and minds. - IMAGE: BEST CONTENT PRODUCTION GROUP

Understanding the importance of the in-store experience and how to make the customer feel as if they are part of a larger community or story will help your brand establish itself in the customer’s hearts and minds.

IMAGE: BEST CONTENT PRODUCTION GROUP

Within the car-buying process, now more than ever, experience and emotion matter, and I believe progressive auto groups have a great opportunity to capture a customer’s heart and mind through their dealership design plans. The decade ahead will not see the death of the modern car dealership, but it will see a greater collaboration between the dealer and the brands to create a “destination dealership” experience for the customer. 

Understanding the importance of the in-store experience and how to make the customer feel as if they are part of a larger community or story will help your brand establish itself in the customer’s hearts and minds.  

What is a ‘destination dealership’ experience?

This is the type of facility that helps the customer learn about the history of the brand, positively communicates where the brand is going, provides seamless ways a customer can customize the vehicle for their needs, establishes unique retail and merchandise options, expands service options, and, most importantly, makes the customer feel part of a community of fellow enthusiasts.  

The opportunity to make an enthusiastic customer feel “home away from home” has never been greater. Progressive brands like Mercedes, Porsche, Jeep, and Subaru have started to capture this opportunity with their latest facility designs and field strategies.

Although the brands listed above do have unique histories and places in the market, I believe the following design philosophies, strategies, and trends can help your facility become a “go-to” destination for your customer base.

  • Dealerships act as a museum, club house, and unique merchandiser: When designing your next facility, plan for additional “showcase” space for unique product displays, vintage cars, and wide format visual timelines that show the brand’s progression. Enthusiasts love a story and telling the history of a brand means the world to them. Whether it is in the service area or off-set of the show room, plan on providing well-appointed conference and retail space for local community groups and brand enthusiasts. If you make this space open to your repeat customer base and local car clubs, and make them aware of it, they will use it. Trust me, if you build it, and you hype it, they will come. 
    • Check Out: Jeep Only in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Dealerships provide a launching pad for new brand experiences: Every 12-18 months, brands have different product launches that can be celebrated within the dealership. Using your destination showroom and service drive to promote new product lines will draw in enthusiasts. Providing repeat customers with bonus hours or sneak peaks will deepen their loyalty to your dealership. 
    • Check Out: Schomp BMW in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
  • Dealerships provide space and product for expanded services: It is proven that repeat and enthusiast customers want to service their vehicle at the same dealership where they purchased it. There is an ingrained sense of trust knowing that the techs understand your vehicle better than anyone else. When thinking of the “destination dealership” strategy, consider allocating additional space for extra service capacity for aftermarket sales and internal rental departments. Expanded service means expanded opportunities to test drive newer models via the rental department while a customer’s car is in service. This is a powerful and subtle way of keeping your enthusiast customer in your brand. 
    • Check Out: Larry H. Miller Mercedes-Benz in Draper, Utah.
  • Dealership seen as hub For advanced product knowledge: Apple enthusiasts flock to Apple stores for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is to interact with a “Genius.” With luxury and specialty brands like BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Jeep, it is critical that the dealership over trains and recognizes the “Geniuses” within their ranks. Enthusiast customers value subject-matter expertise and will come back for it. Destination dealerships are about emotion and experience, but expertise matters, too. Knowledge is an intoxicating aspect for an enthusiast buyer. 
    • Check Out: Longo Lexus in El Monte, California.

Understanding the importance of the in-store experience and how to make the customer feel as if they are part of a larger community or story will help your brand establish itself in the customer’s hearts and minds.   

Brent Tally is the founder and president of TallyCM. His team provides owner's representation and general construction management services for the automotive industry.

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