‘We may not look big from the outside, but we are certainly big inside’
MONTREAL — Michael Sayig, president of CentreVille Volkswagen in the heart of downtown, decided to take a vertical approach to a space problem.
Fitting a modern showroom and service centre on a corner between high-rise condominiums just a few blocks from Old Montreal meant the dealership did not have much room for inventory.
“Our downtown location means space is restricted,” Sayig said. “Not only is real estate at a premium around us, but the city also doesn’t like outdoor parking lots. They prefer them to be covered.”
Inventory management is a constant challenge for any dealership, but it can be especially vexing in urban areas. Limited showroom space and narrow lots on expensive land restrict the number of vehicles in stock at downtown dealerships. Meeting demand for certain models can be challenging, especially if a customer wants to buy quickly.
Big idea from the big apple
So Sayig opted for a solution he saw during a trip to New York City. In Manhattan, public-parking-lot companies have been installing multi-vehicle lift structures to fit as many cars as possible into small spaces.
The idea made sense to Sayig, who commissioned a company from New Jersey to design a customized system for his dealership — the installer’s first Canadian client when the order was placed in 2014.
The lifts essentially double the number of vehicles a given space can accommodate if you add a single-level structure over the parking area.
At Centre-Ville Volkswagen, four levels are contained within 6,500 square feet (600 square metres). The result is a system that can hold 136 cars, essentially quadrupling the number the dealer normally could have in stock.
The indoor structure also cuts down on costs associated with cleaning the vehicles, especially during the winter, Sayig said.
The lift structures have not only added more new vehicles to Centre-Ville’s inventory but also increased the stock of preowned cars for sale.
“Our cars are sheltered from the elements, and we have a lot of options in inventory,” Sayig said. “As we tell our clients, we may not look big from the outside, but we are certainly big inside.”
Gives image a lift, too
The structure is used as both a practical inventory solution and a marketing tool. Every client who visits the dealership gets a tour of the four-level indoor lot in the back, and it impresses potential buyers, Sayig said.
Volkswagen Canada had to approve the addition of the lift structure, which needed to meet dealership standards, he said. Volkswagen Centre-Ville also invested in its showroom and made it compliant with the automaker’s brand image program.
The structure runs on elec tric power, but operating cost are fairly low, Sayig said, add ing that the structure require only one maintenance visit annually by the installer.
Not having to pay for offsite vehicle storage — something a downtown dealer normally would do to ensure sufficient inventory — is another benefit, he said. Centre-Ville Volkswagen used to store cars at a CN rail yard, an expense of almost $7,000 a month.
“The company that installed the structure says it the biggest indoor structure they have ever done,” Sayig said. “It definitely creates a unique display for our clients while helping us hold more cars, which means we are bet ter equipped to answer customer needs.”