Looks like libraries aren’t the only ones taking a cue from Apple Stores. Turns out, BMW is taking a page from Cupertino’s retail playbook by mandating that its dealerships equip their locations with their very own “geniuses.”
The mostly college-age workers will wear clearly designated shirts emblazoned with “BMW Genius,” and unlike sales personnel, they won’t haggle, put together sales contracts or get commissions. They are salaried employees, and they’re there to help salespeople by roaming the showroom (with iPads in hand) to address customer questions about the vehicles. The company figures that car-savvy college students would be ideal for this opportunity, especially since they’re more likely to be open to evening and weekend hours, which are the peak times at these dealerships. Each one will be required to hire one genius per location.
The company held trials of the program in the U.K. last year, and was so impressed with the results that it is launching this model all over Europe and plans to implement a pilot program in the U.S. later this year. The company hopes to launch nationwide by early 2014 in time for the arrival of its i3 electric car.
BMW isn’t alone. Cadillac and Lexus also have non-sales service employees manning the floor, and both have seen customer satisfaction levels rise as a result of the initiatives.
But BMW isn’t relying on that alone. It also plans to offer video and audio information for North American customers, including vehicle and feature descriptions on the website, specialized iPad and iPhone apps and through the on-board BMW Assist call button.