People visit an auto dealership because they want to experience the automobiles in person. They have probably seen the colors and the specifications online or in an advertisement, and now they want to take things to the next level. The polar opposite of an online shopping experience, brick-and-mortar locations provide unique interactions that connect us back to humanity. It is up to the auto dealer to create an experience that starts the moment they drive onto the lot that will turn them into paying customers.
A dealership owner or facility operations manager is tasked with many responsibilities. One of which is maintaining or improving the building design, atmosphere, and systems. Atmosphere encompasses all of the physical characteristics of a dealership that are used to create an image to attract customers. It is a direct contributor to the customer experience, and at LDA we are finding it’s one of the most critical elements of car sales today. The design decisions we are making today are priming dealerships to create unique customer experiences.
It’s imperative to remember the role a dealership’s atmosphere can play in its success. Customers not only care about how a showroom looks and feels, but they’re also likely to make purchasing decisions based on the ambiance of the establishments they patronize. During the life of the building, some design schemes (e.g. branding, floor plan layout, department adjacencies) and finishes (e.g. furniture, flooring, ceilings, casework, etc.) don’t stand up to the test of time. So, to make more sales, attract new customers and retain existing ones, atmospheric improvements are a must. While branding direction is determined by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), a building layout may evolve over time and benefit from expansion, consolidation, or redesigns to capture efficiencies in business operations.
When considering a change, it is very common for owners and managers to reach out to contractors first. However, LDA can assess space needs and develop an improvement plan to meet the budget and schedule of the project so that all of the expectations are clearly spelled out at the beginning. Our approach is to work with the owner, listen to their needs, and develop a design direction that meets both their and the OEM’s objectives. This prevents the contractor from making assumptions on cost and time — a valuable lesson that is often learned too late when construction estimates are exceeded based on contractor assumptions. What our efforts ultimately achieve are places where people want to go, take test drives, and buy automobiles.