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The New Deal with Dealerships

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by Autotrader May 2011

Extra amenities and super fast service centers aren't quite enough to keep a dealership competitive these days. How about sustainable materials, gourmet coffee, rock climbing walls and 9-hole golf courses? Some dealerships are doing all of that and more.

For example, Dirito Brothers, who have a long history of success selling cars in San Francisco's East Bay, just broke ground for a 30,000-square-foot Volkswagen dealership in downtown Walnut Creek, California. The dealership is tripling the size of its existing facility. The new center, which will feature a state-of-the-art service department with an enclosed reception area, a spacious vehicle showroom and a large, comfy customer lounge, is being constructed in the new VW White Frame format.

"With its clear, simple shape, the White Frame is key to Volkswagen's visual identity and is used in all the principal elements of the dealership. The frame unmistakably accentuates elements such as the facade and portal, ensuring clear differentiation from the competition. Inside, the White Frame is used for the presentation of vehicles and products and is reflected in the furniture system," Christopher A. Hahn, General Manager
Real Estate & Facility Services of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. explained to AutoTrader. "Thanks to the extensive use of white by the new concept both indoors and outdoors, an elegant, calm effect is achieved and the brand acquires a strong sense of identity."

Is it sustainable? You bet. Low-irrigation landscaping, LED lighting in building frames, shaded vehicle displays, light-reflective roofing, mechanical building shades and permeable paving systems are all part of the plan.

Going green is a major focus at Fiat as well. To celebrate the opening of their new Manhattan dealership, Fiat North America created a pop-up studio at a trendy art gallery in Soho. They planted 12-foot pear trees in eight Fiat 500 cars placed around the city. The trees were a contribution to New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation and New York Restoration Project's MillionTreesNYC effort. The cars were moved, the trees stayed. 

And then there is the other kind of green. Margate, Florida's JM Lexus, known as largest-volume Lexus dealership in the world, put a nine-hole golf course on the rooftop of its service center. The JM Lexus Country Club is replete with a 3,200 square-foot putting green and Pro Shop that sells JM Lexus branded accessories. The course, open to customers having their cars serviced or those just looking for a new car, also comes with its own LPGA golf pro, Nicole Hage, who gives lessons to customers.

Gary Flom, president & CEO of Manhattan Automobile Company and Bay Ridge Ford, understands the importance of distinguishing oneself when it comes to selling cars. He told AutoTrader, "Besides the obvious, like providing incredible customer service, at Manhattan Automobile Company we offer our customers an exclusive test drive on a roof top test-track, a rock climbing wall and a full service Starbuck's coffee shop. In a market where consumers don't necessarily need cars, we offer white glove services like overnight test drives and sales transactions completed at the customer's office, not ours."

In their Bay Ridge facility, the architecture and interior incorporates actual Ford car design materials and concepts into the space. Flom added, "From the aluminum-encased facade to the extensive glazed glass windows and custom-designed American-made furniture and fixtures inside the showroom, Bay Ridge Ford uses the same materials found in Ford vehicles."

Mercedes-Benz Manhattan, Mercedes-Benz USA's only company-owned sales center, takes luxury to a new level – in fact five new levels. Their new Manhattan location, opening June 21, consists of five floors – three of which are underground, and occupies 330,000 square feet (7.6 acres) in total. The NYC space can also accommodate over 550 vehicles.

The dealership has stunningly progressive decor including a helix ramp, a high-tech customer lounge and cafe, a glass elevator and a blue-lit entryway. A wall that spans several levels continuously displays high definition images of new, specialty and classic vehicles. And the theme colors, light blue, yellow and apricot, were designed to convey the qualities of openness, lightness and trust.

The Mercedes dealership was built to meet the US Green Building Council's "LEED Gold Certification" standards.

The icing on the cake? For Manhattan customers there's a pick-up and delivery service with a fleet of over 150 Mercedes-Benz courtesy vehicles. The dealership also offers a high-end shuttle service to central destinations throughout the city.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The New Deal with Dealerships - Autotrader