In March, Mini opened a large two-storey Cooper showroom in Norwich to accommodate such features as a dedicated workshop with wheel alignment and MoT bays, with their ‘funky’ brand image reflected throughout.
Alisdair James, a partner in the Automotive & Roadside team at Rapleys Commercial Property & Planning Consultants, said: “Motor manufacturers are increasingly looking to raise the standard of the dealerships that promote their brands. The standard of finishes required and facilities offered in some instances could be likened to a ‘fashion boutique’ with the underlying theme targeting customer experience and lifestyle.
“Showrooms tend to be de-cluttered with sales desks away from the cars in a dedicated sales area. The quality of customer waiting areas is ever improving, as these also double as waiting areas for service customers, who will often now wait while their car is serviced. These areas need to provide a comfortable environment where customers can also work with full Wi-Fi connectivity and so on.”
James believes the current trend for features such as MoT bays will be key to attracting customers. He said: “Hand-over bays have been a feature of new dealerships for some time and are now commonplace. However, given the overall cost, it will be essential for dealers to make full use of this space when not in use. This could include either featuring a particular car or may be utilised as a diagnostic bay to handle customer queries.
“Modern dealerships hold a much reduced parts stock and hence less space needs to be allocated to this function. In workshops, increasingly two MoT bays are being specified in order that the dealerships can increase their throughput of MoT and service work on older vehicles – which also attracts customers back to their showrooms with the opportunity to interest them in some new product.”