Doncaster BMW’s recently completed $12 million vehicle showroom and service centre in Bundoora, in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs, is as highly engineered as the cars on its gleaming display floor. JOHN POWER reports.
When Ingo Reisch, managing director of Doncaster BMW, wanted to construct an additional showroom and service centre in the nearby suburb of Bundoora, he was determined to create a facility that would serve as a true model of excellence not only in Australasia, but throughout the world.
The project, completed just over a year ago, has now had time to settle and prove its worth. In this article we examine the main features of the project, including the hands-on participation of Reisch and his BMW colleagues during the design and fitout, the vital role played by technology integration specialist Corporate Intelligence and the importance of embracing a building philosophy that allows for business growth.
A CLEAN START
The two-level Bundoora complex, comprising a 7000-square metre ground level and 2000-square metre upper level, is set on a spacious 10,000-square metre site overlooking a major metropolitan ring road. An adjoining 5000-square metre vacant lot has been retained in case of future need.
The design and construction process was atypical due to a mix of ‘mandatory’ design and signage elements based on international BMW corporate identity (CI) templates, as well as a highly detailed wish list of integrated digital security and audiovisual features.
“Our basic requirements were enough space for the service area, i.e. 12 service bays or 80 to 100 square metres of storage, as well as new car and customer areas,” Reisch explains.
While showrooms and dealerships worldwide inevitably involve a high degree of customisation depending on location, Reisch says dealership names are always presented in the same format. “There are also guidelines for surfaces, both internal and external, and even the ceiling over the roadway needed to be dropdown to emphasise the car displays. There were also CI guidelines for the desks and reception, as well as practical considerations like the ability to take a customer to see colour charts and car configurations; these features are common to every dealership. In almost every case you’ll find neutral flooring, some glass feature and modern couches that are stylish, but will not draw attention from the cars. The reception desk must also have certain materials: the front, for example, might include a timber platform that is crisp with a clean look, but the cars must still be the focus of attention.”
SPACE AND PACE
One of the basic prerequisites of the new Bundoora complex was a customer-focused, uncluttered showroom and supporting sales spaces, all designed to deliver personal attention to each client.
“What happens if there are five or six customers at the same time,” Reisch speculates, “and they all need one-on-one attention? We’ve added four additional cells, taken very much from a ‘round table’ approach, and equipped them all with their own 32-inch swivel monitors and PCs with remote keyboards. I can sit in any one of these cell environments, do a contract, go to the printer and do everything without a cluttered desk environment.”
This leaves the question of where to position sales consultants’ permanent workspaces. At present sales staff and their workstations are accommodated within the showroom – a system that has not been ideal. “Perhaps that was our one mistake,” Reisch concedes. “It would be great to have all the consultants away from the showroom floor altogether.” In this way, he suggests, clients may be freer to find their own private space within the showroom, calling upon the expertise of a consultant at their own pace.
While the broader initial design requirements, as noted above, called for thoughtful planning in the context of international expectations, it became apparent early in the design process that the full range of site-specific electronic fixtures would need equally careful consideration.
Reisch called upon Lior Rauchberger, managing director of Corporate Intelligence (part of the Nuvo Solutions Group), to select and install appropriate integrated services such as lighting, security and audiovisual equipment.
The company is one of a new wave of consultancies specialising in harmonised technical building features.
“Corporate Intelligence started about two years ago due to an increase in technical work,” Rauchberger explains. “While Nuvo Solutions handles a lot of commercial electrical contracting for major clients like PMS and Spotless, we made a strategic call to start Corporate Intelligence specifically to handle lighting, BMS [building management systems], cameras, sound, audiovisual and automated systems. I was brought into the Doncaster BMW (Bundoora) project pre-construction and became a de facto technical consultant. Ultimately, my job was to present options of different budgets.”
SECURITY: WORKING TOGETHER
Reisch and Rauchberger collaborated to make sure security, as one of the fundamental aspects of the building, adhered to the highest quality standards.
As Reisch explains, “Having the old building at Doncaster, we were experienced with antique, complicated, analogue cameras that didn’t give clear pictures – we wanted the new Bundoora showroom security system to be simple to operate, yet highly effective.”
The solution, according to Rauchberger, was to install a fully digital, IP-based camera network (including multi-megapixel cameras) with sufficient hard disc memory to record terabytes of information.
“There is real convergence in this area, with Cat-6 cable used to connect multiple devices: cameras, TV, AV and sensors on one platform,” Rauchberger says.
“I know Ingo [Reisch] is very staff-centric, so we have arranged for different sales consultants to view monitors of their own sections of the yard.”
Simplicity, Reisch emphasises, was as important as efficiency. A single access point was a natural design feature to enhance security, as was low-energy ambient lighting to deter intruders. A local security contractor, Monjon, was chosen to oversee general security operations and conduct patrols because of the firm’s strong reputation in the immediate area. “Externally, there are not just security door sensors and cameras, but also sensors with smart lighting,” Reisch explains, adding that spotlights are triggered by motion. The system operates 24/7 and all data is recorded for 90-day storage.
If prestige cars are the centre of attention at the showroom, an advanced audiovisual system serves as a stunning support act. There are 15 monitors spread throughout the entire complex, including the service area, boardroom and staff room.
As Reisch explains, these monitors are arranged in two main zones, namely the service and customer areas, and the lifestyle/café area (featuring a 60-inch screen).
“All but two monitors in the staff area can be jointly operated or individually controlled,” he says. “The service area (60-inch screen) is for TV entertainment and is controlled by the service team – channels and volume. Then there are two vertical screens in the service area, which is a subtle lifestyle accessory, currently showing a fish tank.”
There are additional monitors in two toilet blocks, capable of displaying a range of content from general DVDs to corporate videos during one-off special functions. Showrooms serve as platforms for a revolving library of BMW footage, including short movies, still shots with background music, golf and the like.
While these functions are easy to operate, Reisch estimates that staff have only begun to make use of the full potential of the system; indeed, Rauchberger advises each client to nominate a ‘champion’ to act as general controller of the more broad-based units.
At optimal capacity systems can accommodate a surprisingly sophisticated range of uses. The DVD library, for instance, can be programmed to play specific programs at different times of the day according to customer profiles. Senior executives, generally speaking, tend to visit showrooms in the middle of the day coinciding with their lunch breaks; background AV selections can be chosen strategically to match this kind of visitor pattern.
According to Reisch, the professionalism of the service team has been fundamental to the success of the Bundoora business, culminating in a doubling of service customers over the past 12 months.
This success, Reisch adds, has not happened by accident – in fact, the value of the service crew was identified at the outset and recognised through a number of high-quality building features, including the provision of internet-connected PCs and a large LCD screen in the lunchroom. Bose speakers, notes Reisch, were specified with the needs of staff in mind.
Following the successful completion of the Bundoora complex, the original Doncaster BMW showroom and service complex is to receive its own makeover, with room for 26 service work bays, an exciting new showroom with mezzanine floor and an extra driveway for added space. High-performance double-glazing will be a welcome contributor to the overall thermal efficiency of the building. Of course, less powerful HVAC units are needed when premium glazing is installed, and comfort levels are more consistent for employees and customers alike.
With both the Doncaster and Bundoora complexes featuring the latest technologies and design principles, the groundwork has been laid for the business to flourish without interruption for many years to come.
DONCASTER BMW AT A GLANCE
- screens: Commercial Panasonic
- speakers: Bose
- control and touch screens: RTI
- music amplifiers: Sonos, and
- digital signage players: Sedao.
- security panel: Inner Range Concept
- access control: HID gold class readers
- software: Insight Professional, and
- cameras: Camtron.