Company NewsGeneral

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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How to Clean Your Vehicle


Regular washing is the best way to protect a car’s finish and to ward off rust. Air pollutants, road salt, bird droppings and other contaminants can break down a vehicle’s protective coating, leaving a dull surface that is vulnerable to corrosion. With a few basic supplies, and a little effort, a car owner can keep a vehicle’s new shine for years to come.

To wash your vehicle, select a day with no rain in the forecast and work in a location out of direct sunlight. Throughout the process, the car must remain wet to avoid spotting. Select a detergent specifically designed for auto surfaces. Dish soap, which is designed to cut through grease, can strip away car wax and damage rubber trims. Use microfiber or chamois cloth, or a microfiber cleaning mitt, as regular terry cloth towels do not pick up dirt, instead they just push the dirt around.

Pre-treat baked-on grime, bugs, and tar with undiluted car wash soap. A spray bottle works well for this step. The wheels tend to gather the most dirt and dust. They will need to soak for about 15 minutes. An accumulation of brake dust, which is normal with semi-metallic brakes, may require a special product designed for cleaning wheels. Give the vehicle a preliminary rinse to remove loose dirt particles that could scratch the surface. Open the truck and hood to remove dirt and leaves that may have lodged in the seams, and clear any debris from the windshield gutter beneath the wipers.

Fill a bucket with water and add the recommended amount of car wash soap. Fill a second bucket with water to use for rinsing the cleaning cloth or mitt. Having this second bucket prevents the soapy wash water from becoming contaminated with dirt.

With the soapy water, wash a small section of the car; rinse out the cleaning cloth with the clear water, then load the cloth up with soapy water to wash the next section. Start from the top of the car and work down to the rocker panels and bumpers. Do not scrub hard, as this will grind any loose dirt into the car’s finish and create scratches.

After the entire car has been soaped, give it a final rinse with a gentle stream of water from the hose, beginning at the top of the car and working down. To prevent water spots, dry the car with an absorbent chamois or microfiber cloth. Drag the cloth over the vehicle surface to absorb the water, then dry crevices with a microfiber towel. Be sure to dry doorjambs and the areas under the hood and truck lid.

Ideally, a car driven daily should be washed once a week. This simple process will help a vehicle retain value, protecting the car owner’s investment.

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7 Automakers Agree to Standardization of Electric-Car Charging

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Seven automakers have agreed to standardize electric-car charging: Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. These automakers will implement a universal system with one port that will work with all current charging methods. This agreement comes after the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) urged carmakers to pursue a universal charging standard last month.

The seven carmakers said, “standardization will reduce build complexity for manufacturers, accelerate the installation of common systems internationally and most importantly, improve the ownership for EV drivers.”

At the moment, car manufacturers each use their own type of charger, making it difficult for EV users to locate charging stations that match their model. Electric charging stations are already rare enough, without having to worry about what type of charger you use. According to a poll done last May by USA Today, 60% of Americans have no desire to purchase an all-electric car because they worry about the range of the charge, finding recharging stations within that range, and amount of time it takes to recharge.

The difficulty in locating refueling stations is an issue all alternative-fuel options face. Currently, the only compressed natural gas vehicle, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, is offered in a mere four states (although this will change October 18, when the Civic Natural Gas rolls out in 36 states across the country). No wonder there’s not enough fueling stations across the country. Without refueling stations, there’s little incentive to purchase these alternative-fuel vehicles.

While “going green” and buying hybrid or electric vehicles is certainly a trend, on the whole people are sticking with gasoline cars, despite desires to reduce dependence on oil and use more domestic fuel alternatives. Many alternatives to regular gasoline exist, from the aforementioned hybrid and electric options, to compressed natural gas, and even biodiesel. However, despite increased appeal in niche markets, none of them have seen mainstream popularity.

Carmakers hope standardization of electric vehicle charging stations will help boost sales for electric vehicles. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but other manufacturers will have to jump on board to make this movement towards standardization most effective. In the coming weeks, we will have to keep an eye out for what other car manufacturers will join the seven.

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