BMW is going to start having dealers hire young and tech-savvy employees to answer questions about vehicles in the showroom. The program will be called “BMW Genius Everywhere” and many of them will be college students with an iPad in their hand. They will not actually be selling the cars, but will inform shoppers about the features of the car that a consumer is interested in.
This is similar to the Genius Bar program that is in every Apple retail store where “geniuses” explain how products work. Lexus and Cadillac have similar programs in their dealerships. BMW wants a large number of geniuses in time for the arrival of the i3 electric car that will be arriving in U.S. dealerships in early 2014 according to BMW of North America’s VP of Operations Peter Miles. The BMW Genius Everywhere program is launching across Europe after a trial took place at large dealerships in the U.K. last year. A pilot program is going to take place in later this year. After that, it will be rolled out nationwide by early 2014.
In Europe, the BMW geniuses wear a white polo shirt that says “BMW Genius.” They are paid a salary, not sales commissions. If the buyer is ready to go on to the next step, then a salesman is called in. College students are able to work on weekends and evenings when dealerships are the busiest.
Lexus and General Motors set up similar programs last year. General Motors requires Cadillac dealers to set up two employees as certified Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment specialists, one to focus on sales and the other in service. Lexus set up delivery and technology specialists at their dealerships where employees take over tasks that are normally assigned to a salesman. Lexus hosted training sessions in the past 4 months across 9 cities. Around 2,400 Lexus representatives were trained.