Andrew Gill got a Hyundai franchise in 1998 but dropped it after six months. He says he wasn't impressed with the quality of the product.
By the time Gill bought a Hyundai dealership in Athens, Ga., early last year, the automaker's lineup had improved considerably. The challenge, he says, was getting that message across to consumers.
Gill, 62, has addressed that problem by opening a satellite showroom in a shopping mall two miles from his dealership. The showroom, in a former jewelry store, only displays vehicles. The dealership still handles all sales.
Still, Gill says, the response from mall customers has been “staggering.” He estimates the mall showroom now generates an average of seven sales a month — nearly one-fourth of the dealership's new-vehicle sales.
“I figured if we were able to get prospects to see the Hyundai products, they would most likely buy,” Gill told Automotive News.
In summer 2006, Gill signed a three-month contract with the Georgia Square mall in Athens. The regional mall attracts about 10.8 million shoppers a year.
Gill says the initial rent for the 3,000-square-foot store was $2,800 a month, including utilities, security and a sign in the mall's food court. That price was high, he says, since Hyundai of Athens' total advertising budget is about $15,000 to $20,000 a month.
But Gill says he was willing to pay the price to get his cars and trucks before potential buyers. “We moved the existing sales counters out on their rollers and drove our nine cars through the mall after hours,” he recalls.