Mercedes-Benz has stepped up the gear of its offering to commercial vehicle customers with their new head turning facilities in Centurion and the East Rand.
Unusual for a commercial vehicle centre – which sells trucks, buses and fleet vehicles – the new facilities have taken key design ingredients from their sisters in passenger vehicle sales, aligning the two customer sets' experiences.
Says Creative Director for Enterprise IG Faan Nel, “These buildings challenge the conventions of commercial vehicle centres which are traditionally drab and overlooked in favour of the more glamorous passenger vehicle showrooms. Mercedes-Benz has raised the bar of what CV customers everywhere will come to expect.”
Brand consultancy Enterprise IG designed a showroom that proudly displays commercial vehicles in an enclosed, celebrated space – uncommon in a CV centre which traditionally neglects this area. Staff-customer relationships are key to sales in this sector: albeit less frequent, CV sales represent significantly larger one-off transactions than passenger vehicle sales.
The first class facilities capitalise on their highway location with excellent highway visibility for both the Centurion and the East Rand centres while delivering on all the brand values of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
In keeping with the premium status of the Mercedes-Benz brand, top quality finishes have been used and attention to detail with the same design principles applied here as to passenger showrooms: porcelain tiles, tiled walls, large expanses of glass and imported woollen carpets in the sales area. A comfortable bistro caters to visitors and waiting customers and a retail store sells Mercedes-Benz branded merchandise.
Centurion's showroom boasts a circular, double volume brand gallery that resides in the centre of the building, celebrating the rich heritage of Mercedes-Benz with brand-relevant lifestyle visuals displayed on the walls.
This gallery is also the centre point that links the three areas of customer interaction – Parts, Sales and Service – radiating outwards from the centre.
Says DaimlerChrysler's Gary Dodds, “We have created a facility that successfully aligns the aesthetic with various operational practicalities. These centres cater to the needs of the sales floor, the service workshop, parts facility and preowned vehicles – all under one roof.”
The space proudly displays the service environment – the workshop is specifically angled to as to be visible to the highway and large expanses of glass allow the customer views into the workshop from the showroom and vice versa. Large display graphics form backdrops to the vehicles on display in dedicated bays outside that face the highway.
The Mercedes-Benz star rotates on top of the building, on the roof above the central gallery and is strikingly illuminated at night.
While adding to the aesthetics of the building, the design promotes technical competence, minimising service downtime, a key requirement of a CV customer. The Centurion centre has since been awarded the group DCSA Chairman's Award for Dealer of the Year.
“These centres are outstanding in many respects – from a vehicle display point of view, staff-customer interaction, sales and service, customer comfort and first class facilities,” says Nel.
Iconic landmark buildings positioned on prominent roadside real estate, they are indeed traffic-stopping.