BMW will unveil its updated business strategy on March 16 that will look at the needs of premium car buyer as far as 20 years into the future. Ian Robertson, the head of sales and marketing for the BMW brand and responsible for all sales channels across the group, shared his views on how the automaker will further improve its customers' experience. He recently met with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
How are you adapting your retail network for future challenges?
We have rebalanced the mix of salespeople and Product Geniuses and now have over 3,000 [Product Geniuses] operating around the world. Their role is to advise and explain, while salespeople deliver the final deal. One other example is aftersales – most customers just don't want to be involved in aftersales so we are working on various ways to provide the service. Examples are remote uploading of digital maps or collection and delivery of 7-series cars to a customer's home or office.
What other changes are you making?
Given the customers' desire to buy from stock and drive away, U.S. dealers tend to stock 300 to 400 cars in inventory. Currently it can take several hours from decision to delivery, but we want to cut that down to 45 minutes, which means really reducing all the non-value-added processes within that: financing, pre-delivery inspection -- all that has to get a lot leaner. We need to be asking whether we really need nine signatures on a financial services document any more – quite possibly not. We still have a way to go to achieve 45 minutes, but we're making good steps toward it.
What else are you advising your dealers to do to prepare for the future?
We're looking at the future needs for extensive real estate, particularly in the metro areas, and at keeping service bays full of loaner cars. In the future, we may use mobile crews to change the oil while the car is parked at the customer's office, because having to queue up at the service bay at 7 a.m. and take someone else's car, or ride with someone else, just isn't premium any more.