NORTH MIAMI, Fla. -- Craig Zinn, a Lexus dealer in the heart of an affluent, nearly recession-proof section of Miami, wanted more than a brand palace when he built his $80 million dealership in south Florida last May.
He wanted multiple distractions inside his showroom and amenities that would keep customers inside the store and revenues within his walls.
Zinn, 52, doesn't have just a dealership. He has a shopping experience that also happens to sell cars.
Zinn's new store is unique. There are two cafes and a boutique that sells high-end Leah Vixamar women's shoes and watches made by TW Steel and Invicta. There are a spa and a hair salon, a gym and an office center -- and nearly all services are free.
"The whole plan was to create a destination," says Zinn, who is the retailer for everything at his location, including the boutique. "Everybody thought I was crazy."
So far the business plan has worked. Zinn has generated revenue and cut costs, but not in a way even he expected.
By creating an environment in which customers can shop for nonautomotive items, he has given people a reason to stay in his store. As a result, Zinn's loaner car fleet has plummeted from 170 cars last year to 100, saving the dealership as much as $900 per car in monthly costs.
"And we have no complaints that we don't have enough loaner cars," says Zinn, who is CEO of corporate and customer relations for Craig Zinn Automotive Group, which owns Lexus of North Miami. "It is a lot less expensive."
Zinn hopes to sell a combined 3,900 new and used vehicles this year at Lexus of North Miami, his first full year in the new building. In the first quarter, he sold 586 new vehicles and 238 used.
"We're making money here," Zinn says.
Combined revenue from parts, service, the body shop and the boutique amount to $1 million a month.
"There is your 100 percent absorption, which is my business model," he says. "If I can cover all my expenses without selling a car, I will sell the car for whatever I have to sell it for."