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AM Automotive management cover March 2016

‘Click and collect’ may just save the dealership

Is it time for franchised dealerships to reposition themselves as ‘the local’?

A recent meeting of the AM Executive Breakfast Club provided some food for thought. The guest speaker was Susannah Schofield, a marketing and human behaviour expert. You’ll read more about her in the next issue of AM, but a key point was how shopping has changed thanks to the ‘click and collect’ culture and the consumer’s desire for more convenience.

The conversations that followed centred on a need for the dealership to remain relevant in the years ahead. My thoughts were that if manufacturers are to continue requiring franchisees to invest millions of pounds in showrooms at the same time as the number of physical visits by car buyers falls, maybe those manufacturers ought to allow their franchisees a little freedom to diversify.

Perhaps the showroom of the next decade will incorporate an Amazon Locker or something like it. Now that the latest new-build dealerships sit beside main roads and have plenty of customer parking, the local showroom could be the perfect solution for the e-shopper looking to collect their parcel on their drive home from work.

A few dealer groups have already diversified to tempt consumers onto their premises. Jennings Motor Group has just opened a Subway sandwich bar alongside its Kia dealership in Stockton, following the lead shown by Skipton Ford in North Yorkshire last November. Branded coffee bars have also been integrated into showrooms, primarily for customer use, with Knights BMW and Mini in Staffordshire serving Starbucks drinks and Chiswick Honda operating a Costa Coffee shop.

Of course, most people calling in for a parcel or bite to eat are unlikely to sign up there and then to buy a new car. But consumer habits cannot be ignored. Give them a reason to visit your premises more regularly and build up that reputation for great service and you may be top of their list when they are ready to change their car.

 

Tim Rose, managing editor, 2016Tim Rose

Managing editor

 

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