- Jay Wolfe Acura, a Kansas City car dealership, has undergone a $5-million renovation that transforms the car-buying experience.
- Fireplaces, free food, Kindle Fires and a children's play area entice shoppers to stay.
- The upgrades and giveaways, including Moet champagne, help to cultivate present and future car buyers.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Jay Wolfe Acura, a Kansas City car dealership, has undergone a $5-million renovation that promises to change the car-buying landscape and is part of a major building boom among dealerships here.
Fireplaces warm guests inside consultation rooms and the main lounge, while kids can romp nearby in a color-rich play area outfitted with a Wii gaming console.
There are toys for adults, too. Kindle Fires are loaded with the latest news, books and entertainment, while 25-inch flat screen TVs make missing a game impossible.
The concierge lounge offers a complimentary full-service dining menu, including waffles, turkey Panini sandwiches, a bevy of espresso drinks and 1,000-piece candy jars. Marble, glass and granite fixtures add luxury.
"What we've done by adding all this is eliminated all the reasons to leave," Lee Hubbard, managing partner of Jay Wolfe Acura, told Edmunds. "You want to watch the KU game? You can do that here. Have to get the kids something to eat? We can feed them for you. We've made the environment like a comfortable club."
Hubbard knows he's on to something. Competitors — other dealership employees — pop in to check out all the bells and whistles.
"Yes, this is a game changer," he said.
Jay Wolfe Acura is part of a citywide building boom of dealerships upgrading their facilities, pushing at least $100 million into the local economy. Jay Wolfe put an additional $7 million into its group's other Acura, Honda and Toyota-Scion dealerships.
The improved car sales environment, the desire by many manufacturers to update dealerships and the availability of financing in the construction industry has fueled this Kansas City trend, said Larry Carl, chief executive officer of the Automotive Dealers Association of Greater Kansas.
Anytime is the right time to invest in customers, Hubbard notes.
"The relationship market is an important part of getting repeat customers," Hubbard said. "Those kids who are stuffing their pockets with the candy from our big candy jars are going to ask their parents to stop by the Acura store in the future. Then those same kids are going to remember the positive experience they had when it comes time for them to buy a car."
It's all about making the car shopper feel warm and fuzzy.
"The return to the dealership, whether it's for service or another vehicle down the line, if you feel comfortable in that environment and a dealership can provide those type of concierge services, then it makes you as a customer have an overall very satisfied experience there," Carl told Edmunds.
Hubbard agrees. He also views the transformation as a way to help time-pressed customers, giving them the ability to multi-task.
"Everyone is looking at the clock when they come in, but when they leave, they are more relaxed, yet they accomplished more than they expected when they set foot in here," he said.
There are gifts, too. Jay Wolfe Acura car buyers receive free, lifetime oil changes with the purchase of any new or certified pre-owned Acura. Perhaps the most extravagant one comes at the end of each delivery. Clients are presented with a bottle of Moet champagne in celebration of their Acura purchase.
"It adds a real wow factor," Hubbard said.
Edmunds says: Expect other dealers to use this place as a template for how to win customers.