Nalley Lexus Galleria in suburban Atlanta is showing that a dealership can learn from grocery and department stores.
Designers of the dealership in Smyrna, Ga., paid attention to traffic flow, displays, impulse buys and customer convenience. The tactics have paid off.
The store, which is owned by publicly held Asbury Automotive Inc. of New York, traditionally had high Customer Satisfaction Index ratings.
But the dealership now ranks fourth among U.S. Lexus stores in sales satisfaction, scoring 99.6 on a scale of 100, says General Manager Bill Morton.
The dealership moved, increasing its size from 19,000 square feet to nearly 100,000 square feet, Morton says.
In the first three months after the store opened in May, service department volume increased 12 percent, averaging 2,700 work orders a month.
"Give us a year," Morton says. "We'll probably see a 50 percent increase in repair orders."
Retail consultant Ken Walker advised Asbury on the $17 million project.
He says other retailers generally have taken a more strategic approach than auto dealers have in merchandising goods and services.
For example, Walker says, corners in supermarket aisles typically display special offers because shoppers face those shelves as they turn into another aisle.
Nalley Lexus demonstrates a similar merchandising approach by:
"It provides a nice, low-key sales approach," says Allen Levenson, Asbury's marketing vice president.
A customer can watch a sales presentation without a salesperson nearby, he notes.
Asbury CEO Ken Gilman says the dealer group will apply the techniques developed at Nalley Lexus to other Asbury dealerships.
Says Gilman: "It's a more thoughtful approach."