Fine dining or Fast food?
Plush. That’s probably is the best way of describing a Nexa showroom. The black and white themed facility looks neat and clutter free from outside. So plus one for the décor. We picked a Thursday for our survey, and it was already bustling with prospective customers. The showroom is located in one of the dark alleys of a high profile mall in the south Mumbai, though the place in itself brightens up the entire surroundings.
The Nexa facility is unusually small by car showroom standards; it can accommodate just three cars. However, once inside, the décor works its magic; the place looks big with liberal usage of white and mirrors, along with a smart floor plan. The seating area is bifurcated to form a display zone hence creating an unobstructed floor for the display of cars.
We first visited the Nexa showroom before making our way to the regular Maruti dealership. The facility then didn’t feel special; it nice and everything that one would expect from a showroom. But all of this was only till we went to the regular showroom.
The regular Maruti Suzuki dealership just 100 metres away stood out like a sore thumb when compared to Nexa. The signboard is lost in the clutter of billboards above it and the easiest way of locating the entrance in the cluster of cars parked outside is spotting someone getting in or out of the showroom.
The dealership follows no set pattern and has the cars displayed haphazardly across the floor. Us lot have become accustomed to adjusting, and the ‘chalta hai’ attitude is reflected in the outlet’s appearance. Compare it with Nexa and you begin to see the ‘premium’ part offered by Nexa, quite clearly. In short, Maruti’s regular dealership, in terms of look and feel, is way below average.
Customer is King
Like I said, the place was crowded, and we were prepared to wait for a while before being entertained. But to our surprise, we were greeted at the door by a representative who stayed with us through the entire time at the showroom. The staff at Nexa was well dressed, carried iPads and importantly spoke acceptable English, though I wouldn’t call it proficient.
To give credit where it’s due, the staff knew their car well and was willing to talk about its competition even on aspects where the rival had the upper hand. Another aspect that we appreciated was that the price list and brochure were mailed to us the moment we gave our contact details. Getting a test drive took a lot of time, but that is mainly because of the crowd.
The dealership did not hard sell the car, in fact when we told them that we are also considering the Ciaz, the same person escorted us to the other showroom and helped us carry on our enquiry there.
Getting in and meeting the right person turned out to be easy and the executive here was no different in terms of skill set. He spoke well, knew the product and variants in detail, though he was averse to talking about the competition. So every time we spoke about the Honda City, we got a muted response.
The other problem at the regular dealership was limited infrastructure. The few tables around the showroom were insufficient and we had to stand for the entire 20 minutes that we spent there. Also while the salesperson busied himself with arranging the test drive, the housing keeping staff went from table to table checking if they wanted the two cups of tea, we had asked for.
The test drive was routine, though they missed out on giving us the brochure or price list before we left (it was mailed to us later, when we asked for it).
Does the Nexa Experience work?
If the intention was giving customers a better experience compared to the standard dealership, Maruti Suzuki has succeeded. The Nexa showroom looks tasteful and treats the customers the way they would expect to be, if they are to spend over Rs 10 lakh on a car. While the entire experience wasn’t phenomenal, it does better in comparison to few other premium and luxury car showrooms that I have come across.. We are not sure if Nexa alone will help Maruti sell premium cars, but it will certainly create a nice impression about the brand in the long run, helping it cement its positioning.
Our previous experience also tells us that most of the Maruti Suzuki showrooms are similar. They are cluttered and have limited infra, making the customers wait needlessly.
In the budget car market one might be spoilt for choice with resale and cost of service playing a vital role. But if Maruti is to entertain customers looking for slightly premium cars, the existing Maruti dealerships do not cut the deal.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a budget small car or a premium model, buying a car for most people in India means parting with a substantial part of their savings. The car is looked at as a valued asset, status symbol and bragging right, which is why it is obvious that people expect to be treated well when they go out for car hunting. And the expectations are much higher when people are looking at premium cars.
This is where the existing Maruti dealerships fail, not as much on the intent but with the limited infrastructure. With Nexa, Maruti gets the first impression right. Only time will tell if the strategy succeeds, but for now, a visit will certainly create a positive image about the brand.