Binning the Bland: Nissan Planning a Great Dealership Makeover

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
binning the bland nissan planning a great dealership makeover

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a typical Nissan dealership, no one’s going to mistake one for the Taj Mahal. They’re functional structures, designed to hold salespeople that can walk you through the terms of a loan. Do they really need to be anything more?

Nissan says no, but it would still like its stores to undergo an ambitious renovation program that would alter the majority for the better. Executives in Japan said the brand intends to update 9,000 of its dealerships around the globe over the next five years. Changes include more prominent signage, updated customer-handling procedures, and more open concept showrooms and service departments.

However, just how much pressure HQ is exerting on North American shops to adhere to the changes is unclear. In the United States, dealerships are already subject to the Nissan Retail Environment Design Initiative (NREDI 2.0), which encourages tons of daylight via glass-fronted showrooms and wide open spaces. The overall look is extremely modern and inviting without feeling showy. Think really nice community college, rather than the hotel lounge experience some premium auto brands attempt to provide.

According to Automotive News, the updated Nissan retailers have reported increases in both sales and servicing. But the company isn’t mandating the changes on existing dealerships. The new design is only required on new showrooms or on those already planning renovations — and even then, Nissan allows for considerable flexibility in terms of how individual dealers implement NREDI 2.0.

The automaker will grow a little more insistent over the next five years, though. Globally, Nissan has around 10,000 stores in 160 countries, and its renovation plan would affect nearly 90 percent of the whole. Meanwhile, the company’s North American arm said it wants to work with dealerships interested in the new standard, noting that the decision for changes is ultimately up to them. While that’s no way to ensure 9,000 dealers become glass fronted, it shows a level of restraint that could help the brand avoid a Project Pinnacle-style situation.

Cadillac’s dealership renovation program was an utter mess from go, earning tons of backlash from store owners. The brand repeatedly softened the plan to keep it viable. But the brand’s former president, Johan de Nysschen, said Pinnacle was working as intended a couple of months before he was fired. While it’s not fair to attribute all of Cadillac’s shortfalls to de Nysschen or Project Pinnacle, both failed to turn the brand around at a rate the corporate machine was willing to tolerate.

Nissan isn’t in the same kind of trouble as Cadillac, nor is it fielding the same kind of experience to a shared demographic. It has a completely different client base and domestic sales for the brand were at an all-time high in 2017. This year looks like it might be even stronger. But it acknowledges it needs to change with the times and, with so many dealer networks updating their stores, Nissan doesn’t want to be left in the dust.

“The relationship between dealers and customers is changing, with customers expecting a more digital and customized experience,” explained Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci during an announcement the brand will bring eight electrified vehicles to market in Japan over the next five years.

We don’t know which of those models will come to North America, but the company is pushing the implementation of its e-Power drivetrains across the board. There will also be pure electrics to complement the unique hybrids starting in 2020 — one of which will be based upon the IMx concept SUV. Schillaci also said Infiniti should receive a fully electric vehicle nameplate in 2021.

[Images: Nissan]

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4 of 26 comments
  • Gtem Gtem on Apr 24, 2018

    "updated customer-handling procedures" Ones that hopefully exclude trying to hold the keys on my trade in assessment when I'm ready to leave lol. I think they quickly realized to not go down that path with me and I was on my way, but I can imagine what a meeker customer may have been subjected to.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 25, 2018

    Though I think Nissan's most important showroom is the lot at Enterprise, improving their dealers to a set standard (more enforced) couldn't hurt. The Infiniti dealers are glass and modern. And though the sales staff were dressed nicely and pretending to work in their offices, the woman they'd hired to man the desk/phone wasn't professional. In between calls she was shouting to another employee (in view of customers) about her baby drama. And she had visible tattoos via her sleeveless shirt. No bueno.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 25, 2018

      @PrincipalDan 1,300! Sheesh.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.