The concept of a ‘Flagship’ store within the automotive sector has in recent times evolved, previously this was the biggest Dealer in the group; be it Manufacturer or Dealer Group.
The one where the Admin and Accounts are based and with rooms available for the time-honoured ‘management meetings’, usually also, sadly the best looking one too. Today’s flagship has, thanks mainly to PR and Marketing gurus, been renamed ‘brandship’.
This renaming offers, according to experts, a more focused view on the brand identity of the business, again be that manufacturer(s) or dealer group. The Brandship, is becoming ever more popular in the luxury end of the retail market and the motor trade has experienced this by way of a shift from investment in bricks and mortar to digital enhancements of their businesses.
Whatever your Motor Trade business, allowing your customers to immerse themselves in the brand you are offering is more about experience than it is badge and price. Bentley recently nailed this ‘experience centre’ in its Brandship in Dubai, by making the whole building, both inside and out feel ‘at home’ to the Bentley owner/driver.
The building’s décor is similar to that found in a Bentley, however in addition to this the whole experience is meant to be the same as the driver gets from their Bentley.
Now, Bentley, as it is, at the top end of the luxury car market, has a recognisable ‘experience’ making replicating it easy, swathing the interior of its cars in freshly harvested cow skin and LED lights, is replicable within a business centre.
The trick comes in identifying the ‘experience’ you wish your customers to have and replicating this in the business you have.
And here we must draw inspiration from the Manufacturer’s own adverts.
I can think of a few instantly, FIAT or Alfa the archetypal Italian brand; no harm would be done by smartly dressed sombre suited and booted staff and some Dean Martin on the Radio and some decent coffee on the go. We all, well many of us remember the Nicole-Papa adverts from Renault, oozing provincial French grace and sassiness, so why then stark white floors and bog-standard Ikeaesque furniture? The new Nissan Qashqai advert, to the soundtrack of Black Sabbath, sees a good looking bloke driving hurriedly through a building site chased by a beautiful female motorcyclist, all very exciting and enticing, however most Qashqai’s spend their time on the school-run, so shouldn’t the business selling them be a little exciting like the advert.
There is no business in the Main Dealer world that hasn’t got a corporate machine behind it, usually with a marketing budget creating an image.
The actual customers may bear no resemblance whatsoever to the models used in the adverts, but they are probably expecting, by purchasing, a little bit of the advertised lifestyle the models enjoy, so why not turn the dealer into a theatre where a customer can for but a moment at least experience the advertised lifestyle, before driving back in the drizzle to their home?
After all, Bentley in Dubai calls the Mulliner Room –the “theatre of dreams”, you could have a “theatre of expectations”.