Letter to the Editor: Reimagining the Whole Store

Articles | June 6, 2019

Author: Scot Eisenfelder for Automotive News

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TO THE EDITOR:

The editorial “Dear automakers: Forget the bricks, focus on clicks” (May 13) was right about the digital age transforming the role of the dealership. A key principle in architecture is “form follows function.” By this measure, dealership facilities are already out of date.

What’s needed is not a reimagining of the current template, e.g. new tile and carpets, updated signage and repaved lots. What’s needed is a reimagining of the entire store.

When Capital One decided to upgrade its facilities, it did not create nicer teller stations. Instead, it created “financial cafes” that became places customers would enjoy visiting and could get help with banking transactions as needed.

Dealerships sell the highest-involvement product in the world, yet people would rather visit a dentist. A more open and educational environment, where consumers can conduct research and find guidance, instead of sales pressure, would greatly increase store relevancy in the digital age.

We also need to consider what the dealership of the future should look like when the majority of revenue comes from service and not sales. Dealers might want to consider replacing waiting lounges with service showrooms, as former AutoNation COO Mike Maroone has suggested. These dedicated spaces would inform consumers about ownership support offerings including collision centers, dent repair, detailing, aftermarket products, tires and maintenance contracts.

Before investing in facilities, dealers and automakers need to think about how consumers will be buying and servicing cars in five years.

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