In an attempt to rid U.S. consumers of the idea that domestic car dealerships are dreary, antiquated places with only a pot of burnt coffee to keep you awake while you wait in uncomfortable chairs, a growing number of car sellers are sprucing up their showrooms to keep potential buyers from running across the street to the cooler looking import lot.
“When you drive by a Toyota dealer, you know it’s a Toyota dealer,” one dealer consultant tells Detroit News. “That’s not always the case with a brand like Chevrolet.”
To that end, dealerships are doing everything from the merely cosmetic — updating signage and modernizing the decor — to the entrepreneurial. The News cites two examples: A Cadillac dealership with a beauty salon and a Buick GMC dealer complete with a cafe.
Dealers aren’t required to invest money in upgrading their retail appeal, but the car makers offer dealerships incentives for meeting sales targets.
“The new GM is making significant investment in their retailers,” says the general sales manager at the dealership with the beauty salon. “They’re not just leaving it up to the retailers.”
Ford is taking a more direct route, asking its dealerships to each invest around $1 million in upgrades as the company prepares to launch its revamped line of Lincoln vehicles.
“Our goal is to make Lincoln a world-class brand,” a rep tells Detroit News. “As a result, we have some work to do and this will depend on investment from our dealers.”
Chrysler says its dealers have spent around $400 million in recent years to spruce up their digs. And as Chrysler sets to roll out the first Fiat dealerships in the U.S., it’s going even further in changing its image. Showrooms, complete with espresso bars, will be called “studios,” sales reps are “design specialists” and sales managers are “studio directors.”