Mega car yard coming to Botany

By Paul Charman

Paul Charman looks over plans for a giant dealership in Auckland

The spacious Experience Centre dealership that Andrew Simms has planned for Botany. He wants to recruit staff who understand what customers are really looking for.
The spacious Experience Centre dealership that Andrew Simms has planned for Botany. He wants to recruit staff who understand what customers are really looking for.

Though well known across the Tasman, the type of auto "experience centre" to open at Botany in October is a novelty in Auckland. And all the more since this dealership will be the first at Botany.

Andrew Simms isn't doing things by halves - the operation will sell eight brands of car from a massive site. Yet Simms says developing on this gargantuan scale is not as challenging as finding the right people to run the facility.

More of that later - let's look at what is planned.

Located all on its own, and initially without the advantage of competitors next door to draw car buyers, the Andrew Simms Experience Centre will have an airline-lounge-styled customer service area, complete with cafe and playgrounds. There'll be two show rooms of 1100sq m each, an outdoor display area the size of half a rugby field and a combined workshop and car preparation area that's even slightly larger again.

The operation opens with most of what is now stocked at Andrew Simms Broadway - Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Kia, Great Wall and Cherry.

There's a distinction, because while the Experience Centre won't sell the Mitsubishi brand stocked at Newmarket, it will include Kia vehicles. And in an already discernable tradition of covering all bases at once, the company intends to hold 150 to 200 trade-in vehicles on site - solely promoted online and sold on a high-volume, low margin basis.

Arguably this facility is just Andrew Simms' response to the reality of shopping online. Simms expects customers will arrive to have a hands-on experience with cars they've already been researching on the web.

"Time is precious - it's no longer a matter of shopping around several dealerships. And when they come to Botany, they'll have the advantage of test drives on quiet rural roads," he points out.

Some sales people living in eastern suburbs have already been recruited. Simms wants more, but is determined not to pluck them from his thriving Newmarket operation.

So what is he looking for? "Stability is a big thing," but beyond this he's reluctant to specify a "type".

"Sales people arrive at an end result using varying qualities, attributes and talents," he says. "This is a people game. You must know more about people than cars. Customers can get product knowledge online these days. They want us to link them with the product to achieve what they want to achieve, at the price they want to pay.

"It's hard to buy a bad car today and features can be generally quite universal, but there are still intangibles, still emotions involved. Brands are important, so is style. Above all, it's about earning and deserving the trust required to establish a long-term relationship between us and the customer."

- NZ Herald

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