BMW rolling out new image standards

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BMW Canada officials have confirmed Canadian BMW dealerships will have to meet the brand’s new North American dealership standards.

The image program, dubbed Future Retail and whose details have been spoken about extensively by BMW of North America executives recently, seeks to create open showrooms devoid of cubicles to give stores an air of transparency.

BMW North America said it would cost its 339 dealerships about $2.8 billion to meet the standards over the next four years.

That number does not include Canadian stores.

Frank Strebe, director of corporate communications at BMW Group Canada, said the program would also see beige and brown interiors replace the current white and silver.

There will also be extensive use of video screens throughout the showroom to illustrate features and options.

Perhaps the most interesting addition is the inclusion of positions seen in pilot retailers called BMW Product Geniuses – staff who explain features and technology to customers without exerting any pressure to buy.

“When it’s time to make a purchase, the customer is turned over to a salesperson,” Strebe said.

The overall concept – and the use of the term genius – is certainly nothing new in modern retail.  Apple pioneered a similar concept years ago when it launched its Apple Store and Genius Bar model in shopping malls the world over.

More recently, and within the automotive arena, Tesla used the same concepts of store layout and use of product specialists in a no-pressure environment.

Strebe added that Canadian stores have adopted the BMW Genius Concept and currently have active BMW Genius in a select number of pilot BMW dealerships across the country.

He stressed the Canadian office is not in a position to provide a cost estimate as each retailer project is unique.

“At best it would be an assumption, which could lead to dissatisfaction amongst our network. We are working with our retailers to complete these upgrades over the next few years.

The brand in the U.S. said the new facilities standards would be rolled out in three phases over the next four years. Facilities that haven’t been renovated in more than six years will be required to begin updating this year, according to published reports.