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John Good

LSH stays the course

Breakfast Creek flagship weathers pandemic and prepares for fairer trading conditions

LSH Auto Australia’s landmark dealership at Brisbane’s Breakfast Creek is proving to be a sturdy bulwark against the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, even though the full lifestyle concept, and the expected boost that is expected to add to the footfall coming to the building, has yet to become completely operational.

One year on since the opening, the Breakfast Creek dealership, which sells only new Mercedes-Benz cars, has managed to maintain new car orders at the same level as 2019 in spite of new car sales in the Queensland market being down by 19.4 per cent YTD June 2020.

While the Brisbane car market has had the benefit of not being the subject of showroom lockdowns at any stage of the COVID crisis, LSH management says that “to some considerable measure the new facility effect is driving increased activity to the dealership” and that the flagship is providing Mercedes-Benz of Brisbane with “increased differentiation in the south-east Queensland Mercedes-Benz market”.

The innovative link between premium car retailing and the operations of upmarket Brisbane chef Shannon Kellam, owner of the exclusive Montrachet restaurant, is also paying off.

Mr Kellam has opened the Mica cafe on the boardwalk beside the Breakfast Creek waterfront. (See separate article). The Mica cafe, a patisserie, bistro and bar, is the first of the two planned restaurants in the building and is currently drawing 5000 people a week.

This is recognised in restaurant circles as a huge number and it is a level of traffic most dealerships can only dream about.

In the used car market, Mercedes-Benz Brisbane has experienced a 30 per cent increase in sales, YTD June 2020.

Management says that this can be partially attributed to an increasingly vibrant used car market as a result of Covid-19, but it largely reflects LSH’s reconfiguration of the used car business which is now located in the former Mercedes-Benz of Brisbane new-car showroom in Fortitude Valley where Mercedes-Benz used car buyers can these days browse and buy in an air conditioned up-market environment.

Used car operations now totally cover the Fortitude Valley site resulting in increased stock and a dedicated portion of the facility selling non-Mercedes prestige used cars.

The Fortitude Valley site became available when the new car operations moved to Breakfast Creek.

In spite of being open for just six months in 2019, Mercedes-Benz Australia nominated Mercedes-Benz of Brisbane in its top three dealerships in Australia in 2019. LSH’s Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne was second and LSH’s Mercedes-Benz of Sydney was fifth.

LSH Auto Australia managing director John Good told GoAutoNews Premium that one of the byproducts of the Breakfast Creek investment was the very latest in communications systems built into the dealership which have given Mercedes-Benz of Brisbane a head start in the race to contactless trading that is being driven by Covid-19.

John Good

“The facility is not just the bricks and mortar. We have made a quantum leap in terms of what we see as the new direction for automotive as well. So it’s very strong in terms of digitalisation.

“We’ve been able to leverage and really springboard on this digitalisation aspect, and we are probably ahead of the game in many ways. We can really offer a unique experience for customers and potential customers in that regard.

“The Covid situation internationally has no doubt sped up this change in the automotive industry anyway, and it has no doubt sped up the process of digitalisation. So I think we will probably be a bit ahead of the game in terms of this facility and what we can offer and that has been able to help to insulate us better than the competition.”

Mr Good said the company now had the following online customer services.

  • LSH Auto Australia demonstrator and pre-owned vehicle online marketplace (with live chat, car reservation and online deposit option)
  • Online service booking platform (24/7 Online booking capability, allowing customers to book their preferred time based on live booking availability)
  • Iridium Club customer benefit program (digital membership card for e-wallet providing benefits – at any LSH Auto Dealership, such as complementary vehicle service checks, capped price services, discounts on labour, parts and accessories)
  • LiveChat through any of the dealership sites to handle customer sales and service enquiries
  • Live video feed from service workshops to customer’s mobile devices, providing customers instant review of the vehicle check process and to confirm additional vehicle service requirements.
  • Contactless ‘paperwork’ for finance, service loan vehicles and test drive bookings, allowing for remote interaction and sales process completion.
  • Quarterly and monthly e-newsletters promoting sales offers, service offers, new products, CSR activities and customer events.

An online retail accessories boutique will soon go live.

LSH also launched in May an online used vehicle locator that lists the used vehicles in stock at all the LSH dealerships. It currently lists about 340 used vehicles and is running at about 30,000 views a month.

Mr Good said: “One specific area which is on everybody’s mind at the moment is obviously the contactless purchase; the contactless interaction with customers. We’ve been able to get really into talking to customers through digitalisation, through the electronic EDM, electronic contactless deposit payments, contactless payments for vehicles, contactless test drive processes and so on. So, there’s a lot that we are really putting together and have already established that is probably leading us further to the new way of doing business.

“And all of this is integrated with the new facility. The new facility was built with so much of the technology already in-built so that made utilising that equipment for these sorts of remote transactions even easier.

“But it has not replaced the personal experience that people want to have when they physically come in. It just makes the whole thing a lot more efficient.

“Communicating with customers through the digital experience, getting customers to really contact us online, do the service bookings online is one thing but it still is very important to have that personal interaction.

“That will never be replaced. And then once you’ve got into a facility like this, with all of that whole precinct concept and the uniqueness of that experience, we’ve been able to capitalise very, very strongly on that,” Mr Good said.

By John Mellor

GoAutoNews Premium

This is an article published on the the GoAutoNews Premium website and the orignal article can be found here Original Article