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Are rival car brands about to start sharing showrooms?

By Stephen Turvil | March 16, 2021

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An expert has hinted that car manufacturers might share showrooms with their rivals and sell via huge screens. But why?

Are rival car brands about to start sharing showrooms?

Maybe! Maybe not! Rival car manufacturers might one-day share showroom space in the United Kingdom, an industry insider suggested. Vertu Motors Chief Executive, Robert Forrester, hinted that ‘multi-franchising’ might become far more common. He is ‘slightly amazed’ it is not popular now. But what might this change mean for you when you order a vehicle? 

The showroom will likely only contain a few vehicles from each manufacture. The rest of the ranges might then be showcased digitally. Via huge screens on the wall, for example. Smaller screens elsewhere would provide further information and the manufacturers will also share hot desks, private offices behind the scenes, the workshop and any refreshments offered to visitors. 

Are rival car brands about to start sharing showrooms? Image

Huge departure

Multi-franchising would therefore be a huge departure for a manufacturer that currently has its own sites. Why? Because a showroom is far more than a room full of cars. It is optimised to make you more likely to buy. It sells a lifestyle as much as vehicles. The site’s location, layout, furniture, colour scheme, lighting, and numerous other elements are chosen with immense care.

This enables the manufacturer to send messages. Perhaps a showroom is modern and full of high-tech gadgets, for example. ‘This reflects the technology in our cars’. Maybe a showroom is stylish. The message is that ‘our cars are stylish, too’. In addition, pictures on the wall might confirm that the company makes winning race cars. ‘We can therefore make a great sports car for the road’.

Benefits of multi-franchising

So, why might a manufacturer that carefully optimises its own showrooms switch to multi-franchising? Why might it share facilities with other brands? There are a few reasons. Cost, for example. Clearly, it is expensive to obtain sites in prime locations, optimise the look, then run them. Costs could be shared. 

The manufacturer might also conclude that showrooms are less important than in previous years. Why? Because much of what they offer is available online. You can see pictures of a car via a computer, study its features, and assess finance offers. You can even order. So, it is no longer essential to visit a showroom for such things. Online sales are likely to become increasingly common.

Mr Forrester also emphasised that multi-franchising is popular abroard. ‘I have seen some really lovely dealerships’, he concluded.

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