In an ultracompetitive automotive landscape, dealers have no choice but to create new ways to make their dealerships stand out from their competitors. In the past, loaner vehicles, friendly staff and speedy service were enough to keep customers coming back. Now, some dealerships resemble five-star hotels replete with waterfalls, plasma screens and spas. From a James Bond-inspired Aston Martin vehicle showroom to a Lexus dealership with plasma screens over the urinals, new dealerships today are no longer one-story architectural eyesores.
To ensure that your dealership offers everything you're entitled to, Edmunds.com presents its Top 10 Automotive Dealership Perks and Palaces. After reading about what some of these dealerships offer their clients, you're probably going to be green with envy, a fact you won't forget the next time you send in a dealership survey.
1. Fletcher Jones Mercedes-Benz, Newport Beach, California
Like a palace built for a king, Fletcher Jones Mercedes-Benz is the largest Mercedes-Benz dealership in the world, and for good reason. Among the many unique amenities that Fletcher Jones offers its owners are complimentary airport shuttle pickup and drop-off — even if you aren't servicing your car. Say you have a flight out of John Wayne at seven in the morning: just bring your car to Fletcher Jones at six in the morning and it'll shuttle you to your flight. When you return, the shuttle will pick you up and your Mercedes-Benz will sparkle thanks to the complimentary car wash service.
2. Island Lincoln Mercury Land Rover & Jaguar, Merritt Island, Florida:
Owners of vehicles purchased at Island's dealership are entitled to complete access to all the on-site club facilities and expanded services. Free Island Club membership lasts for as long as you own your car. Included in the membership is access to a state-of-the-art Cougar Health and Fitness Center, Gus' 1890s-style barber shop, a play area and video arcade for kids, high-speed Internet and free coffee at "Carbucks," and complimentary food at the Tiki Grill Restaurant. As if that's not enough, Island owns a BP/Amoco gas station that charges owners at cost for their gas purchases.
3. Club Aston at Galpin Aston Martin, Los Angeles, California
"Aston, Club Aston" is what one gentleman told me when I asked him where he purchased his Aston Martin. Club Aston at Galpin Aston Martin in Los Angeles is the closest thing to a James Bond adventure that most of us will ever see. Entry to the swanky dealership requires an appointment and a thumbprint identification to open the vaultlike door. From there, you find yourself inside a stark circular chamber with classic James Bond music in the background. Once inside, salespeople serve the classic James Bond drink: martinis, shaken not stirred. Even Pussy Galore could not distract you from taking in the mirrored ceiling, stainless-steel paneling and massive door, which protects your new Aston Martin from potential evil-doers.
4. Newport Lexus, Newport Beach, California:
When you first enter Newport Lexus' dealership in Newport Beach, you'll think your navigation system guided you to the wrong location. The main entrance looks and feels more like a Four Seasons Hotel than a car dealership. Two huge water fountains greet you as you enter the 300,000-square-foot showroom. Take a trip to the bathroom to enjoy a television show as you use the gleaming urinals. A gigantic player grand piano plays all day and guests can take advantage of the on-site putting green, shoeshine service or the Tommy Bahama store.
5. Grimsby Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, Ontario, Canada
The cars aren't the only things getting polished and waxed at Grimsby Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep. Instead of munching on stale doughnuts in a boring waiting room, customers at the dealership's Crossfire Spa can get waxes, pedicures and facials. One popular choice is the $34.95 "Oil Change + Manicure." The Crossfire Spa was so successful that Grimsby had to move the spa to a larger room after just two months of operation.
6. Pat Lobb Toyota, McKinney, Texas:
Both lean and clean, the Pat Lobb Toyota dealership in McKinney is "green" as well. For the true environmentalist, nothing could be better than buying and servicing a Prius from Pat Lobb Toyota in Texas. The dealership's construction is incorporated of approximately 75-percent recycled materials. Highlights include rubber sidewalks made from recycled tires, a cistern that catches roof rainwater for use in landscape irrigation, and waterless urinals that save thousands of gallons annually. Pat Lobb Toyota is also the first dealership to be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.
7. Courtesy Ford, Syracuse, New York
Most dealerships offer service only during the day, which is convenient because no one is working then, right? Courtesy Ford in Syracuse has apparently figured out that most people are at work during the day. Their solution? Twenty-four-hour service means you never have to take a vacation day to take care of your vehicle. Since beginning the round-the-clock service hours, Courtesy Ford has seen service orders increase to 85 or more per day compared to about 60 per day when it operated from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
8. Concours Motors Saab, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Concours Motors Saab knows how to build brand loyalty early. The dealership sponsors a children's museum exhibit in Milwaukee that "transforms" children into certified Saab mechanics. Wearing mechanics' uniforms, children fix a replica of a Saab 9-3 by changing foam-filled mufflers and tires, checking and adding engine fluids, and changing the oil and filter. According to Sales Manager Derek Stackhouse, "parents love the exhibit as much as their kids — we see a lot of people who have visited the museum and end up purchasing a vehicle from us."
9. Audi Forum, New York City, New York
Though not a dealership per se, the Audi Forum is what Audi calls a "brand experience center." Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the center is designed to showcase five cars. The Forum lounge is equipped with a bar and streamlined white furniture that reflects German minimalist design. A state-of-the-art sound system comes from a Bang & Olufsen system that includes seven 6.5-inch ceiling loudspeakers and four 15-inch subwoofers. Though you can't buy your new car here, the Audi Forum exhibits vehicles and exemplifies the Audi luxury brand, which might drive you to purchase a car at your neighborhood Audi dealer.
10. Penske-Wynn Ferrari/Maserati, Las Vegas, Nevada
Designed by Disney "imagineer" Eddie Sotto, Penske-Wynn Ferrari/Maserati is located inside Steve Wynn's $2.7-billion Las Vegas hotel. The dealership showcases its vehicles on granite and marble floors as if they were works of art. Ferrari Enzos are put on pedestals and cordoned off with red ropes that bespeak luxury and exclusivity. The first factory-authorized Ferrari and Maserati dealership in Nevada, Penske-Wynn Ferrari/Maserati is so popular that it charges a $10 admission fee. (We're guessing it'll waive the $10 fee if you purchase a vehicle.)