Are flashy dealership buildings really necessary?

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News.
General Motors Co. recently boasted in a press release how its building upgrade program for dealers boosted its scores in the J.D. Power and Associates sales satisfaction survey.

Given the hefty cost of upgrading dealership facilities, I decided to ask Kerri Wise, director of research for J.D. Power, how the physical look of the dealership and the amenities it offered influenced the vehicle sales experience.

Wise says the dealership facility represents a fifth of the score. That includes the cosmetic appearance, comfort of the area where the deal was negotiated, inventory variety and inventory accessibility.

The dealership appearance should be “competitive,” she says. But other aspects of the transaction -- the experience with the salesperson and the way the dealership worked out a deal -- had greater priority with customers.

Sounds like dealers’ money could be better spent training their staff rather than building flashy facilities.