Open-concept showrooms are not new, but subtle changes to the traditional glass-box design, including highly visible service departments and sales staff working on the showroom floor, provide a more comfortable environment for customers and, quite literally, transparency into the operation.
“Whenever [people] go buy a car, it’s not high on their list of things they love to do,” said Mark Romeo, general manager of Airport Nissan in Brampton, Ont., just outside Toronto. “They always feel they’ve got to make sure they get the best deal.
“An open concept gives them a nice, friendly feeling. There is nothing hidden, and the biggest fear [customers] always have is dealers hide everything. I think this gives more comfort for the customer.”
The open-concept evolution means moving sales staff out of closed-door offices and into the showroom, said Silvia Carfora, CEO of the Weis Group, a Toronto-based architectural firm that works with 14 automotive brands representing 1,038 dealerships in Canada and more than 3,000 dealerships in the United States.