New Car showrooms can be lavish enterprises, with double-height glazing, blazing lights and costly stone floors. And that’s before you even get into the realms of internet cafes and branded clothing.
A car is one of the most expensive purchases a person makes and today’s showroom has an important role in helping customers make that decision.
In an increasingly segmented market, an outlet needs to cater for a range of clients and their needs.
Dealers know that just as important as how the dealership looks, is how the dealership WORKS!
- How do my customers and staff use my dealership for day-to-day activities?
- Can my sales team see the lot without obstruction?
- Do my customers have clear routes to the service area / workshop?
- Where is the guest bathroom located?
- How large does the showroom need to be to accommodate the number of cars we want to display?
- Given our planning volume and service growth goals how many service bays do we need in the body shop? How many technicians?
In today’s brand-driven society, cars and lifestyle overlap and the sales environment should reflect the customer’s preferences. The scope of a car dealership scheme is not limited to sales. After-sales service is an element of the business model so a service reception and a parts and workshop facility are often located on a showroom site.
At prestige outlets, customers may have access to refreshments, wireless or internet connections in coffee bars or lounges with companies scrambling to clean up their acts (and their images), chasing approval from an ever-more-demanding public.
02 Design considerations
Car showrooms need to be located on highly visible sites with good access to main transport routes and an eye-catching frontage. Display of the car range is paramount and the layout and orientation of sites and display areas will have a major impact on sales. These considerations affect environmental control strategies, as not all buildings can be oriented to mitigate solar gain and heavily tinted solar control glass is not generally considered for the main facade.
The current trend is for a double-height display area with the main frontage in full-height glazing, making a design statement and providing high visibility of new vehicles.
The building services standard is also high. Comfort cooling in customer areas is required to control solar gains in highly glazed areas. Showroom lighting – which reinforces brand identity, displays cars in the best light and creates the right mood – is a useful sales tool.
For most new car dealerships, sustainability is not a major business driver, but delivering buildings that meet manufacturers’ design codes could be a challenge. The good news is that sustainable buildings are on the increase and developers are starting to see that sustainable properties may point towards lower energy costs (those pesky bills!) throughout the life of the building, creating lower overheads.
Measures taken to mitigate loads, energy use and carbon emissions include:
- Use of extended eaves, brise-soleil and canopies to reduce solar gain, particularly on the main façade
- Use of rooflights/skylights to provide basic levels of illumination without adding to cooling loads
- Enhanced insulation for solid cladding and roofs
- Lighting control, i.e. Motion detecting lighting options for private areas such as ablutions and office areas so that when they are not in use; energy is not being consumed unnecessarily
- Offsetting relatively high carbon emissions in a mechanically cooled showroom across the total floor area of the scheme, which includes areas such as workshops with lower loads
- Double glazed glass insulated bespoke Compact Sectional access doors which contribute to allowing in maximum light (less electricity), working together with the aesthetics of the build all the while being a useful asset to the building for vehicles to come and go. And thermal Compact Sectional Doors, conserving air conditioning and insulating against outside elements. More on this at the end of the article.
Corporate branding by manufacturers is leading to a trend for standardised fixtures, fittings and equipment specified to meet “corporate identity standards” that turn showrooms into bespoke retail boxes. The choice of materials, such as timber flooring in lieu of tiling, is another way for a manufacturer to reinforce its visual image.
With the value of the stock on display, security is a major concern. Showrooms have comprehensive access control, alarms and sophisticated CCTV. CCTV is located internally and externally and uses infrared for night-time vision. It may feature movement tracking and link back to remote monitoring centres. Some systems feature loudspeaker systems used by remote monitoring teams to warn intruders that they are on camera.
Discreet physical security measures such as forecourt bollards, guard railing and perimeter fencing are also necessary to prevent unauthorised vehicle entry and exit, but must not interfere with aesthetics and customer views of vehicles on display.
03 Funding and procurement
For most developers of car showrooms, design and build is the preferred procurement route. It is ideally suited because the typical showroom is neither large nor complex. Employers’ requirements can be issued at a relatively late stage of design, and will incorporate prescriptive designs and specifications for completion by the contractor’s team.
Design and build offers clients, which are not professional developers, the opportunity to use a manufacturer’s pre-determined corporate specifications and finishes such as access door providers, while transferring design, commercial and construction risk to the contractor, obtaining cost certainty with a consistent quality finish. For this, the client needs to use amended contracts that place responsibility for both the employers’ requirements and contractor’s proposals with the contractor.
Development of car showrooms can be undertaken by a number of parties. The options available are generally either freehold or sale and leaseback:
- Freehold: the financing of the showroom is undertaken by the dealership, which then keeps it as an investment. This is the traditional approach.
- Sale and leaseback: the dealership develops and then sells the showroom and associated assets to a financial institution, leasing it back for a specified period of time. This enables the dealership to release the capital tied up in the development and concentrate on motor retail rather than on its property portfolio.
- The manufacturer: The opportunity to develop is sometimes determined by the manufacturer. Some support dealerships by providing information regarding preferred sites, and give potential sales expectations for the area. In some cases, manufacturers prefer to act as their own developer, acquiring and developing a site and then either renting it to the dealership or selling it into the investment market.
04 New dealership trends
Changes to the European Block Exemption law, which governs how franchises are held and managed, has facilitated the growth in multi-franchising within a single dealership. These arrangements enable consumers to compare different manufacturer’s models on a single site.
The dealership tends to locate the franchises in either co-located or adjacent showrooms. This means the shell construction must be adaptable to the different specifications demanded by the manufacturers. As a result, the size of some dealerships has increased up to a floor area of 3,000m2. A scheme of this size will accommodate multiple franchises and extensive workshops, tyre bays and so on.
An alternative approach has been the use of boutique sites. These are small units positioned in city-centre retail sites or leisure developments. Matching the location, the customer profile and the correct brand of car are vital for success, off-setting high rental levels and development costs against the opportunity to target specific clients. These developments sometimes exploit the concept of coffee bars and branded clothing ranges found on larger sites.
It can be difficult to obtain planning permission for car dealerships. The main concerns when applying for planning are:
- Traffic movement: This peaks at the start and end of the day, as vehicles are dropped off for servicing and delivery
- Location: The need to be highly visible on major transport routes or close to town may mean the proposed site is not in the correct local planning zones
- Lighting: The desire for the forecourts to be illuminated for as long as possible, especially relevant in suburban locations
- Drainage: Adequate drainage facilities with the need for a trade effluent licence, interceptors and treating waste products off site.
Coming back to the note about access doors in car showrooms, architects often a struggle finding a product which serves its purpose, but contributes and fits in with the overall design and aesthetics of the build.
As mentioned above, it is important that the customer has views of vehicles on display and from the dealership point of view – we need access doors which allow easy access for new vehicles coming in and purchased vehicles going out as well as vehicles coming in for servicing.
Not only that, but with the larger car showrooms that contain a workshop for servicing, you may find that a standard roller shutter door just doesn’t cut it. Firstly the ‘look’ is restricted and secondly, it’s important to remember the comfort of the mechanics working within the workshop. Compact Sectional Doors can contribute to a much more comfortable environment, how?
Compact Sectional Doors are a bespoke access door which offers a number of panel options:
- Eight RAL Sandwich Panel Colour options
- Glazing for full-vision glass panels with a filling of your choice: double glazed acrylate or polycarbonate, single glazed acrylate or polycarbonate, single glazed reinforced safety glass, galvanised casing with mesh or insulated sandwich insert panels.
Not only that, but options include snap-in windows (rectangular and / or oval), ventilation panels, wicket doors, powder coating and storm package which consists of aluminium stiffening profiles.
A big factor winning over architects is also the fact that the Compact Sectional Door is indeed ‘compact’. The panels stack up neatly into a compact space above the doorway, no intrusive overhead support rail are required - and does not impact on ceiling space such as an overhead door. And importantly, the compact door increases operational speeds. Download the full specifications here.
There really is a great selection of products available for car showrooms and by sticking to the latest products on the market, significant energy and operational savings can be made. Click here to view the benefits of Compact Sectional Door vs Roller Shutter.
*All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.
What can you do to increase profitability and efficiency? Check out our free resources comparing a Compact Sectional Door