The New Mitsubishi Look – Lewisville MitsubishiDoug Baum's New Mitsubishi Store is a Guerilla Marketing Machine
Doug Baum likes to sell vehicles at retail “belly to belly”. A long time Texas car dealer, Baum’s family owns two Mitsubishi dealerships in the Dallas suburbs. The newest and largest is the Lewisville (Texas) AutoPlex Mitsubishi facility – Lewisville Mitsubishi.
Visual Identity Program: Mitsubishi has embarked on a dealership upgrade program to improve the image of the brand and to improve the customer experience. The Lewisville Mitsubishi store is the prototype facility that has implemented essentially 100% of the features the factory has in their new dealer visual identity program. The AutoPlex team worked with Mitsubishi staff in California and Japan to develop a look that is upscale, distinctive and efficient.
About 70 of the 375 Mitsubishi dealerships in the USA have committed to participating in some level of this identity program. The minimum would cost a dealer just under $200,000. There are three elements in the basic look for the building. First is a dramatic black triangular shield at the corner of the store. The bright red Mitsubishi three diamond logo is placed in the upper corner and flanked with “Mitsubishi Motors” text. Second is a rectangular welcoming entrance that invites the customer into the store. Directly opposite the entrance is a large, imposing reception desk manned by sales people.
Baum invested $13.5 million in this facility. It opened in early June, 2019. Since first getting in business in 2002, Baum’s stores sold over 20 Mitsubishi vehicles on a Saturday 5 times. Since opening the new dealership they have had 3 Saturdays out of 5 where they sold more than twenty. Baum estimates that sales will increase by at least 20% due to the building alone. They sold about 700 new Mitsubishis in 2018 so he expects to increase to near 1,000 per year over the next year or so.
The Dallas metropolitan area is adding new upscale dealerships at a quick pace. Other brands are putting in facilities that cost $30 million or $40 million. So Baum adopted the Mitsubishi program not only to increase his business, but also to retain valuable sales and service personnel. Now, it is a place the employees can be proud to work in.
As industry analysts, AutoPacific concentrates more on manufacturers and distributors than on retailers. Visiting an innovative retailer making a substantial investment in the future is always eye-opening.
Guerilla Retailing: Over several long discussions with Doug Baum and his brother (the operation is family owned and operated – brothers, sons, nephews, in-laws – that’s America!), it became obvious that their business model is different. I guess I would call it guerilla retailing. Baum admits to loving fast cars. Those are products that Mitsubishi no longer sells. Mitsu now has a crossover SUV-heavy lineup. To fill his lust for fast cars, Baum sells Dodge Hellcats, Dodge Demons, Corvettes and Tesla Model S and X. He gets these from all over the USA and sells them via his website all over the USA. AutoPlex sold over 100 Hellcats and Demons last year. At very healthy mark-ups I am sure. Similarly, his forecourt and service area are teeming with heavily modified Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups. More healthy mark-ups.
Baum’s gleaming new Mitsubishi facility seems to be an island in the chaotic landscape of his inventory. Used SUVs and crossovers (“don’t bring me any cars unless they are Hellcats or Corvettes”) sit among lifted full size pickups and the AutoPlex Mitsubishi inventory. It all makes sense to Baum, but I would think Mitsubishi would prefer to have Mitsubishi inventory close to the building and ranked by model and color. The customer would know first that this is a Mitsubishi store and it will be easy to find the vehicle they might be looking for.