FLINT TWP. — After touring a Business Development Center at a General Motors dealership in the Detroit-area, staff from Patsy Lou Automotive Group decided they did not want a formal, high-tech atmosphere that employees have to be prodded to use.
Instead, the new BDC unveiled at Patsy Lou about a week ago is a relaxing, inviting place with motivational signs and symbols throughout.
The centerpiece is a colorful floor-toceiling graphic dubbing the place “Patsy’s Pub.’’ It artfully conceals a door leading to a spacious conference room still under construction.
Graphics of book jackets from bestselling motivational books occupy one corner of the room, creating a mock bookshelf.
In another corner, a cafe offers amenities including a soda vending machine, refrigerator, small appliances, sink, cabinets and upholstered booths. The area is suitable for both employee use and hosting catered events for business visitors, said Larry White, executive vice president for Patsy Lou Automotive Group.
Recently-hired Business and Development staff occupy six of eight newly renovated offices flanking both sides of this new marketing and development hub.
A massive, refurbished antique shoeshine stand at the entrance gives a permanent spot to a vendor who has long plied his trade at all the buildings on the dealership campus at Linden and Corunna Road. The shoeshine stand has a motivational wall sign lauding the correlation between polished shoes and successful business.
Other walls near the entrance quote business mottoes of both Don Williamson and Patsy Lou Williamson, owner of the dealership. White’s favorite business motto adorns a wall at the back of room.
Words like dream, be happy and laugh are conveyed by stand-up wooden signs placed around the room. A Three Stooges poster injects some humor.
On the serious side are full-color GM vehicle booklets stacked on tables in the lounge area. Glass-tops tables placed around the room are designed to showcase the latest information about sales, service, coupons, incentives and more. A large wall calendar communicates info about monthly dealership and community events.
And what White calls a “Go Board” contains sales leads from potential customers who have contacted the dealerships by internet or telephone.
An iPad is affixed to a Mobile Application Station which allows sales people to obtain information about all cars in GM’s inventory. It is equipped with GM’s new Dealer Assistant Sales App which facilitates care sales anywhere and anytime.
“Last night, I sold a car while watching my kid play hockey,’’ White said of the App’s mobile ability to electronically access information about the car a customer expressed interest in and email information to her including photos and a payment plan. The customer not only purchased the car but was so pleased by the experience she recommended it to a friend who called the next day and also bought a vehicle, White said.
That is one of many tools for success conveniently placed in one centralized location – the BDC – for employees to use, he said.
One challenge for the company has been getting its sales and service staff to want to participate in customer-attraction opportunities versus just going through the daily routine, he said.
Each business sets up its BDC differently but all are aimed at the same result – increasing business, he said.
“The idea behind our BDC is at Patsy’s Pub you will “fill your cup with knowledge and fuel your plate for success,’’ he said, quoting from the wall graphic.
Word play and subliminal messages are part of the effort to make the room naturally inviting for employees to want to come in and absorb information about what the company is doing internally and in the community, he said.
BDC’s are becoming common at GM’s dealerships but are not required, he said. That allows each dealership freedom to customize its space.