October 25, 2014

Automotive Amenities

Tune-Ups for Car and Driver

Craig Zinn Automotive Group takes customer satisfaction seriously, unusually so

Car dealers in recent years have beefed up the amenities for customers who wait at dealerships while their cars are serviced, but Lexus of North Miami has taken the strategy to a new level — offering free massages, teeth whitening, spa treatments and workouts in an onsite gym. Customers can relax in a meditation room, play pool or work in the business center while their children play in a separate area. And they can return to the gym at any time, since membership at the 1-million-sq.-ft. Club Lexus Lifestyle Center is free for all of the dealership’s sales or service customers.

Craig Zinn
Craig Zinn

Craig Zinn, whose Craig Zinn Automotive Group owns the dealership, had a clear strategy when he built the location, which opened a year ago. "The real battle is to win over the hearts and minds of every customer that wants a Lexus, and for those that don’t have a Lexus to be jealous of those who have one," he says.

Service had always been an important component of revenue at Zinn’s dealerships, and he was constantly looking for ways to increase that business. Eventually, Zinn persuaded Lexus to let him build a facility that deviated from the company’s usual plan — and even got financing from Lexus.

But all the amenities don’t come cheap. Zinn says he has reduced the dealership’s fleet of loaner cars, which cost $1,000 a month, from 175 to as few as 100. He also expects the amenities to snag service customers who would otherwise have taken their business to auto repair chains.

While Zinn says the dealership is ahead of projections in terms of volume and profitability — revenue is up 45% since he opened the new location — he acknowledges that mid-2009 was a challenging time to open. Lexus’ recent image problems, stemming from reports of mechanical problems, have "definitely put a damper" on sales, he says — on top of the recession’s effects. Zinn says sales are increasing this year as Lexus offers no-money-down incentives.

At the dealership
On average, 12 customers a day get massages at the dealership, six to eight get their teeth whitened and 12 to 15 use the dealership’s gym.

Tags: Miami-Dade

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