The Importance of Dealership Wayfinding and Design


How does your dealership layout affect customer experience? Is the customer aware of all of the features your dealership has to offer and can they easily navigate to their desired destination? If you spend your days inside a dealership, it might be easy to forget that dealerships are intimidating places for most customers.

It starts with the immediate pressure from sales people the moment a customer drives on the lot, and continues with the busy bustle of multiple departments working together at a fast pace. With this in mind, designing your dealership for comfort and ease of navigation should be a priority. 

Cultural Shifts

As we move into an era of self-driving cars and pervasive e-commerce, it seems that the current iteration of the automobile dealership is due for a makeover. With Tesla’s recent announcement about store closures and e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart closing in on the reality of buying cars online, what does the next generation of automobile dealerships really look like?

With a major shift underway toward online vehicle sales, the function of a dealership is naturally shifting from that of a sales point to the more nebulous role of a customer experience center. As millennials and younger generations come of age, research shows that they crave experiences more than tangible items. The automobile dealership of the future has to sell cars by delivering these experiences without overtly trying to “sell” anything.


Friendly and Inviting

The goal of the modern dealership should be to get customers to spend more time inside. This can be accomplished with a friendly spaces, a navigable layout, proper signage and distinct areas where each model can be displayed in its own unique environment.

Interactive experiences such as Audio-visual displays (including interactive touch-screens), as well as virtual reality (VR) elements can help customer immerse themselves in the product and want to spend more time in your dealership.

Service centers with open windows into the shop can help a customer feel more a part of the repair process. Much like sitting bedside with a loved one in the hospital, an open service center can put an anxious customer at ease about their repair.

Social spaces like a café, or a kid’s corner are another excellent way to help a customer feel comfortable and want to spend more time in your dealership. 

Proper Layout and Signage

Although it is always good to offer personal assistance, customers should easily be able to find their way through your dealership without any direction. They should also be able to find answers to questions quickly and easily.

How is your dealership laid out? Are your service and parts departments easy to find? Your service drive should be clearly marked and visible from the street. Your parts entrance should also be easy to find. Ideally each department would be seamlessly integrated so as to be distinct by integrated.

Information and interactive displays are not only helpful in the sales department, but displays like a full service menu can help a customer make sense of their options (and has also been proven to increase sales). Interactive displays regarding repairs and maintenance can also answer questions for customers while they wait. This can be especially helpful during busy times when service advisors are occupied and unavailable. 


The dealership of the future is different than the dealership of the past. It is less utilitarian and more experiential. Making sure your dealership offers an exciting experience should be a top priority.