In an era when car dealerships are facing increased scrutiny about how they conduct business, Warren Henry Auto Group is betting big on its future, having constructed a $120 million dealership in North Miami, Florida.
The company’s story stretches back to 1976 when Larry Zinn’s father Warren opened his first car dealership. By the time the 21st Century rolls around, the company’s facilities were spread over 15 acres in Miami Gardens. There were just 28 service bays, the showroom wasn’t big enough, and the company’s customer base had shifted to a different part of town.
In 2011, the idea of creating a new, mega dealership like the kind seen in New York City and Houston was introduced. The site chosen sits adjacent to the FIU Biscayne Bay campus in the North Dade area of Miami, just off U.S. Route 1.
The footprint of the four-acre site may seem, at first glance, like a size downgrade from the Miami Gardens sprawl. Larry Zinn, the general manager of Warren Henry Auto Group, told Newsweek that the question became, “How do you take the need for inventory, parking, etc. and compress it into that size?” The Group’s architect found a solution.
The new North Dade dealership site is the equivalent of 19 acres of concrete across seven stories. It allows for more of the company’s inventory to be kept in a climate controlled environment – something very important in the hot and humid weather South Florida offers. It sports 82 service pays allowing for faster in and out, and less wait time for an appointment – something Zinn calls “a total game changer.”
The NE 151st Street location is now the home of Land Rover North Dade, Jaguar North Dade, Koenigsegg Florida and Warren Henry Infiniti under one roof. All four are full-size retailers that rival those found in more traditional settings.
In the eight years it took to bring the dealership from idea to reality, the landscape for the future of vehicles changed drastically. In that time, Land Rover has brought forth a completely revised line up that includes the new Defender. Earlier this year, the automaker announced that six battery electric vehicles will make their way into the Land Rover lineup by 2026 and it’s working on hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Jaguar has seen its brand presence shuffled as well with the all-electric I-Pace added and some models pulled from the lineup while introducing more refined interiors and fresh technology.
Koenigseggg has grown as a brand, especially in the last few years, with the introduction of the Gemera four-seater plug-in hybrid grand tourer and the Jesko, a track-tuned monster of a car that delivers up to 1,600 horsepower.
Zinn calls the new space “future proof” saying that it’s been wired for 400 electric vehicle chargers across multiple floors. Currently, there are just 24 installed. This move was in place before electric and electrified vehicle product plans, now on their way to fruition, were announced.
The way clients shop for, purchase and service their vehicles has also been evolving. That process was sped up considerably by the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, the Group saw no major drop in business, something Zinn credits to the company’s ability to create a shopping, buying and service environment that focused on safety and security.
Customers are able to enjoy a fully digital retail experience, including the ability to complete their purchase without ever having to set foot in a dealership. The Group organized on-demand test drives and customers that had their vehicles serviced had those models completely sanitized at the end of the appointment prior to pickup.
The dealership building itself also underwent a strict cleaning regimen, day and night. To assure customers, the company put out videos detailing what customers could expect in their interactions with dealerships.
This action played into a larger belief held by the dealership group. The company believes that the “digital aspect of the dealership is as important as anything else,” Zinn told Newsweek. Noting that it’s “just as important as our physical presence”. Today, 90 percent of buyers shop online before arriving at the Group’s retail outlets.
With so much concentration on the digital space, it would be easy to put less focus on the physical retailing side of the business. The Group did not do that. The 45-year-old family business set out to create “a beautiful luxury experience” that welcomes customers and makes them “feel comfortable”.
Each of the floors within the complex features a specific purpose. The Jaguar-Land Rover side of the dealership has a 16-car showroom and takes up multiple floors. Sales associates are able to take customers to the floor they need and help them see inventory on the garage floor.
The spaces allow clients to fully customize their vehicles. Materials that automakers will appoint the models with are on-hand so that buyers are able to touch and feel them ahead of signing on the line. Clients can see their vehicle built digitally before it arrives giving them an idea of the proper scope of their decisions.
When it finally does make it stateside, clients are able to have their new Jaguar or Land Rover delivered and sign all paperwork digitally.
Warren Hardy Automotive Group isn’t stopping there. The company has plans to expand its footprint in the Miami area with another massive dealership. The current location of Jaguar Land Rover of South Dade will be replaced by a two-story, 56,889-square-foot dealership that houses a service center on the second floor and a separate building for detailing and car wash services.