Imagine it’s a beautiful Saturday, but you have to take your car into the dealership because you’ve been putting off an oil change and tire rotation for over a month.
Now imagine the dealership’s waiting room. Wasting away in an uncomfortable chair, drinking watery coffee, eating a stale packaged cheese danish from 2004, trying to read a People magazine from the same year as the danish but unable to focus on the story about drama on the set of Friends because someone who bogarted the remote is watching a daytime soap with the volume way too loud all the while you feel yourself getting sick, not because of the spoiled cheese danish, but because the guy next to you is sneezing without a tissue because there are no tissues in the dealership’s waiting room.
Yeah, that’s sounds pretty horrific. This about to change because more and more car dealerships are remodeling their waiting areas imitating your local coffee shop than a traditional dealership waiting room, all the while providing current reading material, tissues and Wi-Fi.
If you’re getting an oil change it might not matter much, but if you’re spending several hours there you might appreciate a sandwich or a latte. Some crazy places like Galpin Aston Martin come with a party and light show when you buy a car. But since 99% of Americans wouldn’t be at that party (or any party inside a car dealership), we opted to look at some of the some of finer touches dealerships like Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Lexus are implementing in their stores. These are the seven coolest.
Green Automotive / Marshfield, CN
Green Automotive repair shop has a conference room, a spacious lounge with TVs, a children’s play area and a kitchen with complimentary breakfast and lunch. It doesn’t look like a dealership and that’s deliberate. In a Patriot Ledger interview, owner Ricky Vayo told his team, “Let’s try to build a place that a woman would walk into and feel perfectly comfortable.” That’s not to say she wouldn’t feel comfortable in a more traditional-looking dealership, but the concept makes for an interesting display and waiting area.
Tustin Toyota / Tustin, CA
If Tustin Toyota can boast anything, it’s that they’re a LEED certified dealer and that they have a Subway Restaurant in their customer waiting area. They’ve also got a family room with flat screen TVs, a private conference room and a game room. There are also cell phone charging stations at every table because everyone knows you can’t go more than two hours without a charge on an iPhone.
Galpin Ford / North Hills, CA
Galpin Ford was one of the leaders of the shift toward cafe-style waiting areas. They installed the first dealership restaurant in America called the Horseless Carriage. If you doubt the quality of a dealership’s restaurant, do a little research. Their executive chef used to work at the Beverly Hills Hotel for starters. Plus, the Horseless Carriage has four stars on Yelp and an 88% on UrbanSpoon.
Pat Lobb’s Toyota / Mckinney, TX
A leader in environmental consciousness, Pat Lobb’s Toyota, was one of the first dealerships in the U.S. to get a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. They also have a pretty cool waiting area that sits in the middle of the showroom. It has a living room, kitchen area with fresh coffee and plenty of natural light.
Fletcher Jones Motorcars / Orange County, CA
Fletcher Jones Motorcars doesn’t have a waiting area, they have a guest lounge. This makes sense for the dealership selling more Mercedes than any other in the U.S. In fact, they’re the first dealership in the nation to have a full-service Starbucks cafe. The guest lounge also features a putting green, manicurist, free airport shuttle and free car washes. In an interview during the renovation, general manager Garth Blumenthal said, “If there isn’t a wow factor, you haven’t succeeded.”
Newport Lexus / Orange County, CA
Newport Lexus went all-out against rival Fletcher Jones Motorcars by spending $75 million on their waiting area. So what does $75 million get a customer waiting at the dealership? A lot. We’re talking full-sized designer boutiques, a putting green and marble fireplaces. There are also a host of flat-screen TVs showing ESPN in the lounge and bathrooms. Yes, bathrooms.
So when you head into a dealership to look at a car you’ve been ‘Following’, check out the customer service waiting area. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised. You might also find just the car you’re looking for, and that’s even better.