Cadillac standalone dealerships are beginning to open their doors across Canada, breaking it away from other General Motors brands such as Chevrolet and GMC, and the people in charge say it’s completely changing the ways in which they do business.
“You walk in there and you know you’re in a Cadillac facility,” says Gary Relling, General Manager of Wolfe Cadillac in Edmonton, Alberta, which opened in April 2019. “It’s all appointed with Cadillac, and there’s a huge showroom with no other cars but Cadillac.”
Sam Alaimo, who is president of Roy Foss Cadillac in Woodbridge, Ontario, which opened its doors this summer, says that the upgraded Cadillac experience starts quite literally from the ground up with buildings designed like jewelry boxes that display the cars as art.
“It’s one of the most beautiful buildings that you will ever see,” Alaimo says. “We wanted to ensure that when people drove by, it was like a fashion outlet.”
“(The interior lights) were designed to give the cars this diamond-like look. When the light shines on the cars, there’s no shadow, there’s no reflection. It gives you true colour, true lines, true shapes. It’s quite an impressive look.”
Alaimo says that clients at Roy Foss Cadillac receive premium service from the moment they arrive.
“We will instruct you to come in through our service drive, where you’ll be greeted by a concierge who will offer to wash your vehicle,” he explains. “If you agree, we will wash it and park it. You will then enter the facility, greeted by the sales experience ambassador, who will take you to our in-store design studio with the vehicle there loaded in screens.”
“The vehicle you have an appointment for will be prepared on our Cadillac patio for the demonstration ride. You come back to the design studio, where they will provide you with transparent pricing.”
Roy Foss Cadillac is equipped with independent pods that make it possible to customize the delivery experience.
“We’ll learn about some of the music you’re interested in, and if we’re able to gather that from you, during your delivery that music will be playing in the delivery pod,” Alaimo says. “We cover the vehicle with a Cadillac cloth. We have bow ties. We have a presentation of a Cadillac pen to sign your final agreement. We have the presentation of the key in a key box. So, we try to make it unique.”
Relling says that his Edmonton customers appreciate using courtesy vehicles for long-term test drives.
“People who come to our stores now are internet shoppers,” Relling says. “It’s more about the car than about the price because people who are coming in already know basically what the cars are. They’re more concerned with getting exactly what they want.”
“We will have a set of 2020 Cadillac demonstrator vehicles over the course of the year that customers can take and experience before purchasing. Qualified customers can take them home for a day or two.”
At Carter Cadillac in Calgary, Alberta, which opened in February of this year, customers appreciate dealing with just one representative, dubbed a “brand ambassador,” through every stage of the purchase process, according to Managing Partner Jay McKeen.
“We didn’t give them a different name just because we wanted to sound fancy,” McKeen says. “Their responsibilities are much different than you would see in a traditional dealership setting.”
These representatives handle every aspect of the purchase process, from researching the best vehicle to executing the purchase and handing over in delivery.
“When we look at the surveys that are coming back from our new clients, that is the most often mentioned thing,” McKeen says. “We’re seeing that consumers are really finding that a more pleasant experience.”
Carter Calgary also offers a valet service in which a customer’s vehicle is picked up for service from a home or office and returned on the same day.
“For them, there’s no interruption in their day,” McKeen says. “As we all know, time is always the most precious commodity. So, if we can take some of the time constraint off of them, we find that the customers are really responding well to that.”
McKeen says that there’s plenty of evidence this strategy is working: his dealership has shown a 5 percent increase in sales volume year-over-year, an increased market share in the Calgary area, and more trade-ins from competing premium brands.
“I’m looking out my window right now at a Ferrari that we took on trade,” McKeen says. “If you think about the mindset of somebody looking at a luxury vehicle, you certainly want the quality, but you also want the luxury experience.”
“Now that Cadillac is on its own, they’re considering it and visiting the dealership. We’re seeing that some of them are converting.”
Stephanie Wallcraft is a multiple award-winning automotive journalist based in Toronto and is President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.