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Slump in Sales Could Drive Minis to BMW Dealerships

Miniature sales numbers could soon force Minis, which currently have their own dealerships, to share space with BMWs.

The Mini marque, which is owned by BMW, has had stand-alone Mini stores since 2008 as part of its efforts to maintain a unique, independent image. Today, there are 127 Mini stores. Mini dealerships, though, appear to be struggling to sustain this independent dealership model due to lower-than-expected sales numbers.

Mini projected it would have 100,000 in annual sales by 2017, but it hasn’t yet topped 66,500, a number it reached in 2013. The brand’s sales decreased by 10 percent in 2017, and through the first 10 months of 2018, Mini sold only 37,359 cars.

This has led some Mini dealers to request an integration with nearby BMW dealerships to reduce overhead costs and increase efficiency. Sharing costs associated with real estate and operations could help the brand stay afloat.

“We want to focus on dealer profitability so that they are properly represented in the marketplace,” Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas, told Automotive News.

BMW and Mini, however, want to ensure brand differentiation should the two merge dealerships. To accomplish this, they’re considering creating separate Mini showrooms at BMW dealership locations. Dedicated Mini salespeople and service workers would staff these showrooms. Mini is also working with some dealers to reduce their requirements for showroom space to facilitate the move.

Mini has also indicated that it’s exploring other ways to support dealerships that would remain independent.

Challenges Facing Mini

The sales slump is the primary challenge facing Mini, but another issue is the lack of new product. Mini introduced the redesigned Countryman in spring 2017 and a plug-in hybrid variant later that year. A full-electric model is expected to arrive next year, but some Mini dealers have expressed worries that there isn’t enough new product on the horizon to keep customers interested.

“We’re in a development phase,” Felbermair said. “There’s a number of longer range projects that you will see come to fruition.”

Some dealers have also expressed concerns about a lack of consumer awareness caused by inadequate marketing funds.

Perhaps the biggest threat, though, is the fact that the company hasn’t been able to convince Americans to buy premium small cars. The U.S. market for SUVs and light trucks is strong, but that of premium compact cars continues to struggle. Mini also hasn’t been able to attract the young drivers it originally that would be its core audience.

“As a dealer and a manufacturer you have a vision of where the brand is going, and you have to prepare for it,” Jason Willis, a member of the Mini National Dealer Council, told Automotive News. “In this case, the vision now isn’t what it was when some of these stores were built.”

However, BMW and Mini still have hope that things will turn around. The marque is going through a bit of a rough patch that’s left it unable to maintain its independent dealership model. Although the company hasn’t made a final decision yet, reducing costs by moving in with BMW dealers may help Mini hold on until conditions improve.

Tips for working at a BMW dealership

Building your own cars in your garage can be a great way to learn the ins and outs of automotive engineering, but it usually won’t get you close to any new luxury cars. If you want to get closer to your favorite car brand, try getting a job at one of their dealerships. If you love luxury cars but worry you’ll never afford one, getting in on the ground floor at a BMW dealership is a great way to make that dream a reality. Plus you’ll get to spend all day around your favorite cars.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you land a job at a BMW dealership and how to succeed once you are hired.

Remember Your Job Interview Class

Applying for a job at a BMW dealership isn’t something you can do by walking in off the street and asking for a job — especially if you slum around the city in cargo shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. Think back to your high school job interview class — if you were lucky enough to go to high school before they got rid of those life skills classes. Some things that will make a huge difference are:

  • Your Appearance — They say dress for the job you want, so if you want a job at a BMW dealership, you need to dress it up. Take a peek inside the dealership to get an idea of what the average person there wears. You’ll want to go business professional — suit and tie — to create the best first impression even if you end up working as a porter in cargo shorts and a polo shirt.
  • Your Resume — Have a neatly printed one-page resume handy, even if you had to submit one during an online application.
  • Your Knowledge — Most of what you need to know for a dealership job you’ll learn on the job — but don’t walk in without some knowledge of the brand or the different models available. Take the time to study up.

Don’t be unprepared if you do manage to land an interview.

The Interview

An interview at a BMW dealership will be pretty straightforward. You will receive questions regarding your work history, your professionalism and work ethic, and your knowledge of the brand. Most interviews will be a one on one between you and a hiring manager. In addition to two interviews, you will likely need to complete a personality assessment and, depending on the position you apply for, a skills assessment as well.

As with most modern jobs, a career with BMW is also contingent on a drug screening and criminal background check.

It’s a good time to get into an automotive-adjacent career — car sales and other automotive services were an $862 billion industry in 2015. This is a nearly seven percent increase from the year before.

Expect to Start at the Bottom

Don’t expect to walk in the door and immediately start making over $100,000 a year. This is one of the few industries you can start at the bottom with the ability to work your way up — so expect to start at the bottom. You may want the role of a BMW salesman, but the best way to make it into that position is to start small — apply for a job as a lot porter or a car detailer. This is a great way to showcase your work ethic and professionalism. Impress your immediate supervisors, and you may find yourself on the fast track to sales or even management, depending on where your skills lie.

Working for a BMW dealership is a great way to be around the cars you love while still building a profitable career. Be professional, dress for the job you want and whatever you do, don’t peel out with a customer’s car in the parking lot — at least not where anyone can see you.

2016 BMW of North America Announces Best Dealership Awards

BMW North America announced its best dealerships with the annual Center of Excellence award. “It is both a great achievement and honor to be chosen as a Center of Excellence and I heartily congratulate this year’s winners on their accomplishment,” said Ludwig Willisch, President, and CEO, BMW of North America. “In our business, nothing is more important than customer loyalty and these centers have proven they know how to delight their customers and keep them coming back. I hope they will proudly display their COE recognition and then enjoy the rewards.”

2016 Center of Excellence Award Recipients (listed below are in alphabetical order)

  1. BMW Concord, Concord, CA
  2. BMW of Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
  3. BMW of Austin, Austin, TX
  4. BMW of Cape Cod, Hyannis, MA
  5. BMW of Catonsville, Baltimore, MD
  6. BMW of Freeport, Freeport, NY
  7. BMW of Gainesville, Gainesville, FL
  8. BMW of Honolulu, Honolulu, HI
  9. BMW of Meridian, Meridian, MS
  10. BMW of Murrieta, Murrieta, CA
  11. BMW of Nashville, Nashville, TN
  12. BMW of Ontario, Ontario, CA
  13. BMW of San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
  14. BMW of Sudbury, Sudbury, MA
  15. Center BMW, Sherman Oaks, CA
  16. Crevier BMW, Santa Ana, CA
  17. Dave Walter, Inc., Akron, OH
  18. Flemington BMW, Flemington, NJ
  19. Hendrick BMW, Charlotte, NC
  20. Hilton Head BMW, Bluffton, SC
  21. Karl Knauz Motors, Lake Bluff, IL
  22. Long Beach BMW, Signal Hill, CA
  23. Momentum BMW, Houston, TX
  24. Pacific BMW, Glendale, CA
  25. Rick Hendrick BMW Charleston, Charleston, SC
  26. Rusnak BMW, Thousand Oaks, CA
  27. Schomp BMW of Highlands Ranch, Highlands Ranch, CO
  28. South Shore BMW, Rockland, MA
  29. Steve Thomas BMW, Camarillo, CA
  30. Sun Motor Cars BMW, Mechanicsburg, PA
  31. United BMW of Gwinnett Place, Duluth, GA
  32. Weatherford BMW, Berkeley, CA

How does your dealership stack up?  Did it make the list?  Should it have made the list?

Let’s hear your dealership feedback