by Yolanda Vazquez
Imagine taking your car in for service, and while your precious ride is being worked on, so are you. You'd be amazed at what car dealerships are doing these days to cater to their customers.
In an effort to enhance the ownership experience, prestigious car dealers, like Lexus of North Miami, are pulling out the all stops when it comes to ultra-lux amenities. They have teeth whitening treatments, an on-site gym for workouts, a Zen-like meditation room, a small putting green, comfortable massage chairs, a cozy café, and a fancy boutique filled with an eclectic mix of high-end items.
And at their hotel-inspired Club Lexus salon, customers can get their hair and nails done, along with a dozen other treatments. Myriam Pelaez takes advantage of a complimentary hair styling every time she brings her car in for service.
MYRIAM PELAEZ: At the beginning, I couldn't believe it was offered. I think it's an excellent idea. I feel like being at home. Everybody's wonderful here.
Vice-president and COO Tony Stampone says there's a huge cost to the company for providing these indulgent services, but it's well-worth it when customers start spreading the news.
TONY STAMPONE: That wow factor; the discussion of look what's going on in this dealership, it's a lot different than another dealership – that has a lot of value to us. They're out there telling everyone-look at what they've done in this store and that's very powerful. Word of mouth is very powerful.
With so many pampered services you could spend an entire day here at Club Lexus and almost forget you're at a car dealership. But make no mistake, all this preferential treatment – thank you, ladies – is good for business
For starters, there's been a huge reduction in their loaner fleet, customers are spending big bucks in their boutique, and new car sales are on the rise. The concierge concept is the brainchild of Craig Zinn. He built the 80 million dollar dealership in 2009 to create a unique customer service experience.
But you don't have to sell luxury cars to build strong customer relations. Jones Junction in Bel Air, Maryland, sells Jeeps, Subaru, and other mass market brands. They offer a number of freebies – everything from manicures to shoe shines.
STEVE SMELTZER: We want to build a relationship with all of our customers here at Jones and we want to wow them. The family-owned, multi-dealership chain added in complimentary snacks: boxes of fresh popped-popcorn, grilled hot dogs and free beverages. The goal is to make the vehicle service experience more enjoyable, with comfortable lounge areas and children's play rooms. A lot of people don't want to come to a dealership because the first impression is "Geez, it's going to take me, I don't have time, I don't want to wait." So what we did is we accommodated those situations by all the things we do.
Another bonus is their Jones For a Lifetime program®, where customers can receive free oil changes, car washes, loaner cars and other benefits. Company officials know the extra perks instill customer loyalty.
BRIAN KILBY: I think it's a huge competitive advantage that we have over our competition. It's expensive to do and it seems our employees like it. Our customers love it and our numbers seem to keep growing
By creating an environment in which customers are coddled in every way imaginable – dealerships are finding a new value-added business model that doesn't seem to spoil their bottom line.