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Penske Automotive Uses Apple Concept for Product Specialist Program

Penske Automotive Uses Apple Concept for Product Specialist Program

Penske Automotive launched a product specialist program in one of its stores last month to try to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. The name or location of the store is not being revealed. The concept that the company is using closely emulates the “genius” product specialists that Apple uses at its retail stores.

Tony Pordon, the executive vice president of investor relations and corporate development, says that the idea to initiate such a scheme came from the general manager of the test store. She is trying to creatively drive more people to her location and to improve customer satisfaction ratings at the dealership. Pordon would only say that a high-volume foreign brand is sold at the store.

Penske Automotive is not the first company to test out product specialists in its stores. BMW also took inspiration from Apple for its BMW Genius Everywhere program, which was launched in the United Kingdom and has spread throughout Europe. The vehicle manufacturer requires its dealerships to hire young, tech-savvy people to answer inquiries about its vehicles. BMW is expected to bring this program to the United States early next year.

Penske Automotive supports BMW Genius Everywhere, as well as sells the manufacturer’s vehicles, but Pordon says that its product specialist initiative is separate. The company owns 140 dealerships, but has only hired two product specialists. Pordon says that energetic, tech-savvy people who are willing to embrace changes in technology are ideal candidates for future product specialists. The company wants people who understand product details and have robust communication skills.

Pordon explained that Penske Automotive product specialists will greet customers, go on test drives and do vehicle walk-arounds before a salesperson begins to negotiate a price with the customers. The goal is to meet the high expectations of customers and provide a better, faster experience. Emulating the tech-savviness that other businesses have is one way to accomplish this goal, and that is why this program has been initiated.

He also noted that this is a lower-cost way to boost store sales, despite the upfront cost of hiring product specialists, because it will lead to more gross and increase profits. The management team will examine the initiative and make adjustments as necessary, such as having the product specialists do the sales side of the business as well. If the program works, Penske Automotive will consider launching it at other dealerships.


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Penske Automotive Expands Presence in United Kingdom

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Isaac Agnew, one of the UK’s top 25 franchised dealers, operates 16 dealerships representing nine brands, including Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mini, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, primarily around the Belfast area.

Funding for the acquisition has been exclusively provided to Sytner Group by Royal Bank of Scotland by means of a four-year term loan. The entire management team under the managing directorship of Yuile Magee will transfer to Sytner with the business.

David Agnew, former chairman of the family-owned group, said: “I am pleased that we are selling our business to Sytner who will provide a similar culture and environment to Agnews, a culture that rewards, respects and develops individual talents and has a strong focus on customer service.”

Gerard Nieuwenhuys, Sytner’s group managing director, said: “We are delighted to be acquiring a very successful Group with a similar brand portfolio as Sytner in a new geographical region. “We are excited by the prospect of working with a very talented and loyal management team who I am sure will make an important contribution to the wider Sytner Group”.

Yuile Magee, speaking on behalf of the Agnew’s management team, added: “We are excited by the opportunity of working with Sytner, a business that we have long admired and one that has a similar philosophy to that which we have developed in Agnews.” The acquisition was a share purchase and the dealerships will operate as an autonomous division of Sytner Group and trade under their existing dealership names.

Since 2002 Sytner has been owned by the Penske Automotive Group, based in Michigan USA. It has 172 franchises in the US and Puerto Rico and 155 internationally, mostly in the UK. In December 2011 Penske secured a £110 million credit facility from the Royal Bank of Scotland and BMW Financial Services to fund growth.

Source: AM- Online


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