Never seen this before

I ran into what appears to be a stunningly good idea over the New Year’s weekend. Rocklin Mercedes-Benz has a bistro restaurant on-site at their dealership. This is a high-end bistro restaurant that attracts its own customers, not just an “amenity” for the dealership’s customers to use while they wait for their car to be serviced.

Why do I think this is such a good idea? The restaurant attracts a demographic which is similar to the demographic of a prospective Mercedes-Benz buyer. While you can enter the bistro without going through the showroom, the two are connected and you can’t help but see a lot of Mercedes cars in the parking lot.

Does it work? If by work you mean attract customers to the restaurant, yes. They had over 1,000 people at the restaurant on New Year’s eve. Does it attract potential customers for the dealership? I would assume so and time will tell. Has this been done before? Apparently, but not precisely.

I look at this combination as a “floor traffic” generator for the dealership because the restaurant is focused on serving a group of customers who are also potential Mercedes-Benz buyers. A similar, but apparently flawed approach was tried at a Chevy dealership north of Los Angeles in 2002. A review of the dealer’s website today makes no mention of the bistro.

What’s different about the Chevy vs. Mercedes restaurant approaches? For one, the Italian bistro was only open for dinner and it was situated in the showroom itself. While I don’t know this for a fact, I also suspect that the Chevy sales people may have been a bit too aggressive for this “dinner-focused” crowd. At Rocklin Mercedes, the bistro is a separate operation, in its own area and, based on my first hand experience with visiting, the car sales people are not intrusive in the bistro at all, other than to point you to it if you ask.

How can you partner to improve your flow of prospective customers?

Mitch

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