Genesis is experimenting with a dealership model that treats customers like ‘invited guests,’ rather than buyers.
Genesis Tries a Dealership Model – Overview
At 6600 Johnston Street in Lafayette, Louisiana, the second chapter of Genesis begins.
In the heart of French Louisiana, the premium automaker confounded expectations by opening its first standalone showroom.
South Korean values and luxury collide with Cajun, zydeco, and hog skin fried pickles at Genesis of Lafayette.
Here are the major highlights:
- In Lafayette, Louisiana, Genesis has launched its first standalone dealership.
- Up to five more will be finished this year, for a little over 100 across the country.
- Later this year, Genesis will reveal two additional electrified vehicles, bringing the total number of electrified Genesis vehicles on the market to six.
The 12,000-square-foot, $3.6 million dealerships, according to Ted Mengiste, executive director of sales operations at Genesis Motor America, are “a physical embodiment of the brand.
” The architectural style has no name, but it embodies “the luxury of white space” and the Korean principle of son-nim, which means “welcomed guest” in English.
The luxury of white space helps to keep distractions to a minimum. In the foyer, three automobiles are shown among two design components that indicate Genesis retailers on the exterior glass walls.
The “brand cube” is suspended inside the entrance, with four perforated curtain sheets making a seating area.
A light panel moves through several subdued hues above the cube’s space. Outside the cube, a projector projects video onto the drapery outside.
The “brand wall,” located opposite the brand cube, serves as a copper-colored backdrop for a hero car parked near the front doors.
The interior appears to be an art project from the outside.
The lobby is separated from the atrium and lounge in the back by a short row of open offices.
To the right of the offices is the Genesis Experience room, an ornate chamber where some buyers will pick up their autos with a side of drama.
Perhaps the clearest example of an “invited visitor” is the service entrance, located to the left of a row of offices dividing the lobby and service lounge.
The service manager’s desk is five steps from the entrance, with no wall, door, or barrier between it and the clients who require assistance.
The lounge, which is made to look like the home of the most elegant person you’ve ever met, overlooks the store’s three service bays.
The technicians, like the management, won’t be able to hide, and they won’t be allowed to make a mess because the space is tiled in light hues like a clean room used for far more expensive machinery.
Those are the numbers, but the question still stands: why Lafayette? The business is owned by Art LeBlanc Jr. and is part of the Sterling Auto Group, which has 12 brands on its roster.
He’s been a Hyundai dealer since 2007, and he approached Genesis about opening a standalone location long before the company was ready to say yes.
“Art epitomizes the Genesis dealer we would love to duplicate around the country,” Mengiste noted when it came time to pick a venue.
He believed in Genesis’ vision and the brand promise, and he was devoted to it, not only for facilities but also for the experiences we want our customers to have when they visit our brand.”
LeBlanc was an excellent representation, as intelligent, polite, and charming as he was perfectly dressed when we chatted with him.
The Hyundai brand has been dealing with customer satisfaction issues across its statewide dealer network, but LeBlanc’s Sterling Hyundai has a Facebook rating of 4.5 stars and a Google rating of 4.7.
He wasn’t just performing for us. Mengiste estimates that another four or five shops will be finished this year, bringing the total number of dealerships to “about 100 or north of 100 around the country.”
At the same time, Genesis is reducing the number of Hyundai dealerships that sell Genesis. There are now just under 300 Hyundai stores, down from a peak of 325.
As the brand shifts to just launching EVs by 2025 and being an EV-only brand by 2030, Mengiste reminds us that “there are two more products that we’ll unveil yet this year from an EV standpoint.”
The additional branding and community exposure provided by these dealers will help Genesis overcome its main problem: a lack of public recognition. Mengiste added, “Genesis is still one of the best kept secrets out there.”
Like its standalone dealers, Genesis is expected to invest a significant amount of money.
“We’ll need a lot of promotion to obtain the exposure and visibility we want, so people will come and investigate the brand,” says the entrepreneur.