Most of us don’t think of automobile dealerships as “offices.” But they actually are. Perhaps a more accurate description is that a dealership is a transactional platform for selling vehicles.
And, let’s be honest, the auto buying experience is usually pretty stressful, with all the back and forth negotiating with the dealer holding all the cards. It is heavily weighted in favor of the dealer. One businessman in Indianapolis thought it was time to change the business model.
The result? A new venture called TruWorth, whose business model is based on complete transparency with the consumer.
Oh, and did I mention that it only deals with used vehicles?
What’s in a Name
Today, consumers can leverage the internet to do a lot of up-front research. But when it comes to trading-in or selling an existing vehicle, it gets very murky in a hurry.
To complicate the situation, the chosen site for the business was a long-abandoned Lexus dealership, complete with leaking roof, structural damage, and mold.
The client engaged us at Darwin Branded Environments to do the following:
- Name the new company
- Develop its brand position and value proposition
- Design the interior and exterior of the space
- Reflect the spirit of the company in experiencing a completely transparent experience
We named the company TruWorth™ to reflect the goal of its owner: to educate consumers and help them achieve maximum value when they sell their used vehicle or purchase a used vehicle – complete with warranty – for the lowest possible cost.
This is why complete transparency is so important.
Un-designing a Car Dealership
The space needed to reflect a new spirit of openness in all dealings. And, in that vein, the employees needed to be more like Apple employees than car salesmen. This involved searching for non-automotive, consultative people who could learn the car business in a hurry.
Our challenge was to design a space that reflects the transparency of the organization.
Every aspect of the process was subjected to rigorous scrutiny. For example, with the exception of the credit manager’s office, no offices have doors or solid walls. New, high-efficiency window walls opened and brightened the interior.
Mesh walls from Teknion created comfortable conversation spaces where consultants could spend all the time necessary to help consumers understand the process and the value. Teknion desks and tables were matched with Humanscale seating to give the space a higher end finish, which separated it visually from the traditional dealership.
There is never any pressure to make a decision. In fact, the consultants are specifically trained to encourage consumers to go get a second or third opinion. And compare the experience and the value with TruWorth.
Next, we eliminated the crush of vehicles inside the showroom. Instead of a dozen or more crowded together, one or two would be prominently displayed, to highlight the exceptional quality of the used vehicles – from 25-year-old classics to late model luxury – that were available at TruWorth.
Consultants are always happy to give consumers a tour, so they can see the inspection bays, where their vehicle can undergo a 160-point inspection plus a road test to determine a realistic value for that specific vehicle.
And an Auto Bar complete with video feeds of all things automotive is staffed by experts who can help consumers check out all sorts of information on sites that are usually restricted to authorized dealers.
Since opening the 23,000 square-foot building six months ago — and with no advertising except online promotion and their own website — the company already is a volume leader. It’s selling vehicles within a 250 mile radius of Indianapolis with a fantastic referral rate.
Visitors feel comfortable in the space, and the atmosphere and casual, no pressure environment has helped the company’s sales take off via word-of-mouth. The results seem to validate that a transparent, up-front approach to helping people can be a win-win proposition.