CREWE, England - Rolls-Royce wants to make its factory an extension of the dealer's showroom.
The word 'showroom' will disappear with the passing of the 20th century. Instead, customers will visit 'retail environments' to discuss their choice of specifications for their cars.
Rolls-Royce and Bentley customers will be urged to visit the carmaker's factory here.
Graham Morris, Rolls-Royce's new chief executive, hopes that will encourage customers to spend more on each vehicle.
'At present, about 50 percent of our customers are attracted by modifications to their cars, and on average they add 10 to 15 percent to their bills in the process. My target is to have virtually all customers spend 25 percent more,' said Morris, a former president of Sterling Motor Cars in the United States who joined Rolls-Royce from Audi in March.
'Nobody can match our flexibility,' said Morris. 'We have customers who visit the factory and change their minds about what color they want, then come back the following day and change it again.'
Morris said he believes the 'key to that is the retail environment. Visiting the factory - a place of renown and an extension of the dealership - is a further selling feature that reinforces the relationship between company and customer.'
Overhauling the dealer network will be expensive. About 40 showrooms around the world will be turned into 'retail environments' this year. They include 12 in the United Kingdom, a similar number in the rest of Europe and 10 in the United States. About the same number will be upgraded next year.
The minimum cost per site is $320,000. Many will cost much more.
The Crewe plant is undergoing a $65 million reorganization. The company's headquarters is getting a $3.2 million facelift to create a more impressive environment in which car buyers can discuss their customizing requirements.
The dealership investment program is one of Morris' first major initiatives.
He also wants to treble the number of tourists that visit the factory each year. Currently, the number is 1,000.