We always see new little wrinkles in automotive dealerships to try and make the car-buying experience seem less stressful and forced. Two key examples are the “No-Haggle” promise offered by now-defunct Saturn and the “Sign-and-Drive” deals offered by several manufacturers now, but started by VW. These are less about making the process easier for the consumer and more about increasing the dealer’s profits while displaying the illusion of an easy-going sales force, which is an oxymoron for any commissioned sales job.
Tesla appears to be going into a realm where car buying is a simple and stress-free environment. How they are achieving this is by beginning with the elimination of the traditional dealership and replacing it with smaller stores in local malls. The second step is to eliminate all commissions and pay the employees a salary. The third step is to not require car sales experience as a prerequisite for hiring, which eliminates the high-pressure “Sell now or sell never” mentality. To get a good picture of what to expect, walk into an Apple store in a local mall and see how laid back it is. You can walk in and play with all of the gadgets without a single sales person bothering you until you ask.
You may be wondering about the floor models and demo models. Keep in mind that all Teslas are built to order, so stores only need a handful of models on the floor and a few test vehicles in the mall’s parking lot. The biggest focus of these stores is to simply educate the customer about Tesla models, and what better place to get plenty of people to educate than a traffic-heavy mall?
Our hats go off to Tesla in its new approach to vehicle sales, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Tesla dealerships and commission-based sales in the near future. Especially if sales start taking off and more models have to be kept on hand for the I-want-it-now customer. So we’ll see exactly how long Tesla can hang onto this low-pressure buying experience before converting into your typical high-pressure dealership.