Influencing Consumer Mood With The Design Of Your Waiting Area

When you run a secondhand car dealership, you can’t rely on your products and services to sell themselves, particularly as the new car market has just marked the 36th consecutive month of growth. Creating the right environment in which to sell is key; ensuring customers feel comfortable and welcome in your office or reception area adds an experiential element to their buying journey. Designing an office or reception area that leaves customers feeling relaxed is one of the few elements of the decision making process you can assume control over. With this in mind, this article aims to share a few pointers to help you set the right scene for selling…

Who are your customers?

To plan store layouts and product displays that appeal acutely to their target market, high street retailers invest time and money in customer profiling. You might not have the same budget to spend on this activity, but you can definitely take a little direction from this practice. While it’s important the area in which you will talk to customers accurately reflects your brand, you also want it to appeal to your audience, who may not have the same tastes and priorities as you.

In a recent episode of Mary Portas: Secret Shopper, she focussed on the case of a secondhand car dealership in Aylesbury where the workers had very much ‘decorated’ to the reception area to meet their own needs and tastes rather than those of their visiting customers. The dealership in question had failed to take account of the tastes, priorities and preferences of their female customers, potentially alienating a large sector of their audience before they’d even decided to take a seat to discuss the facts and figures.

If you can’t afford to carry out customer profiling you may already have information that will be helpful in giving you steer on how your waiting area should or could look. Think about how old your customers are, whether they are largely male or female and what their interests may be and let this direct your interior design choices.

Walls and furnishings

It goes without saying that the paint on your walls shouldn’t be peeling and curtains, chairs and other soft furnishings should certainly be hole and fray-free. You may want to base your colour scheme on your branding, if you do, make sure it’s not too harsh or abrasive, you don’t want visitors to feel like they should be reaching for their sunglasses! Paint is the obvious choice for reception and waiting areas as it is easily freshened up without serious expense.

It can be tempting to decorate the walls with pictures of your products but when the showroom and forecourt are full of brochures, posters and a few examples of the real thing, there are less hard sell alternatives that non-car enthusiasts will appreciate. Canvas prints are an inexpensive wall art choice that can be regularly updated. Vanilla Art have a good collection of landscape canvas prints that customers can look at and imagine traversing with the help of a new vehicle.

Friendly finishing touches

When customers are sat comfortably in friendly surroundings, they mind less about waiting for their turn at the desk or for paperwork to be processed. If you have a waiting area think about carrying out some acts of silent service – ensure there’s a pleasant temperature – central heating or air conditioning could stop uncomfortable customers hurrying to leave. Think about ditching your kettle for a hot beverage machine too – there are now a number of coffee machines on the market, which has helped drive down the cost. Most use pods to produce tea, hot chocolate and coffee that are a lot nicer than the bitty, grainy instant stuff and will better reflect the service customers expect to receive when they’re splashing out on a high tag item. Refer to the Which? coffee machine guide to choose which is best for your needs and don’t forget you’ll need to place a regular order for pods, you don’t want to run out of coffee at a crucial moment.

Finally, think about items that will keep waiting customers and their families entertained. For the adults, newspapers and magazines can provide welcome distractions. You can save a significant amount on these items by ordering through a subscription service, which will also help ensure you have fresh, recent reading materials that aren’t dogeared. A small childrens’ play area kitted out with a few books and toys can also help to keep children on side. As with the rest of your reception area, ensure this is kept clean and tidy when not in use and that items are in the best possible condition.

Regularly freshening up the look and feel of your reception area can make a real difference to how your dealership is perceived. If you can, try and allot a small budget to keeping them maintained each year – it should ensure customers want to take cars from your lot.

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