Incredible new Audi Centre offers hotel-like hospitality in service industry
A word which appears to be over-used these days is "Awesome". I'm guilty of it myself - in fact, I used it in yesterday's review of the brand-new Kia Stinger (that's a nice way of getting a link in!). However, "Awesome" is one of the few words that I can use to describe the €20million investment that is the new 10,000 square metre Audi Centre in Dublin.
Audi Centre, first floor
Now, for fear of you thinking that this is an advertisement for the showroom, I'll put that to bed straight away. It’s not. We believe in giving credit where it's due, and it's certainly due here.
On Thursday, we visited Donal Duggan, the Head of Business at Audi Centre, and he gave us a personal tour around the new facility. So, what's "awesome" about it? Well, first off, it's the sheer size of the location. Ten thousand square metres is a lot of space, which means that inside, they can cater for up to 200 cars between Audi Approved vehicles, new cars and their Audi Sport section. Most of this is in-doors – or at the very least under the roof. On the top floor of this multi-storey centre, you’ll find room on the roof for some more of their cars - this is the only car area that isn’t actually under a roof. It's all very clever. Then, there's a state of the art and pristine service area which caters for another 18 vehicles at any given time.
Donal Duggan, Head of Business, Audi Centre
Audi Centre was always going to be a big deal. After all, it has taken in all the existing South Dublin Audi dealerships under one roof. That means that Audi Ballsbridge and Clonskeagh are no longer operating and the staff have been amalgamated with the Audi Sandyford crew and they all work hand in hand in this one location. The location itself is Sandyford, but Charles Hurst Ireland, who own the facility, didn't just take the existing Audi Sandyford and gloss it up, what they did was a fresh build from the ground up.
The showroom is said to be the biggest and greenest in Ireland, and in my experience from seeing showrooms around Europe, it’s certainly a benchmark for many. Now, I’m not saying that every showroom in Ireland should be like this one, because over the last couple of years we have seen some immense state-of-the-art facilities from the likes of Toyota, Kia, and more. We have also seen innovation on the High Streets from manufacturers using pop-up shops to showcase their wares.
Service Area, Audi Centre
One of the nice things about this dealership is that when you enter it, it’s like you’re going into a hotel lobby. On the left is the Audi Café, where the coffee is served as if you were in a restaurant. Behind you is the customer service area. There are plenty of comfortable seats, and it feels more like you’re checking in than getting ready to sign-up for a PCP deal on a new car.
Donal Duggan told me that their aim is not to plague customers as they come in the door. They want to give a more laid-back experience, and instead of sitting across a desk from a customer, they would like to do their business over a coffee, or in a more comfortable setting, so as the customer feels at ease. This, I like.
The new dealership is also well-located just off junction 13 of the M50 motorway. At the moment, people describe the turn-off as the “Beacon hospital turn-off”, however, the four-rings are now more visible, and with a promise of a new road connecting Bracken Road (where they are located) to the Drummartin Link Road (which brings you to the M50), Donal is guessing that in the near future, this could become known as the Audi turn-off.
Audi Approved Plus Area, Audi Centre
Sandyford is beside where I grew up as a child, and it was to us what the Naas Road is to residents near that area. The area has always had a large amount of dealerships. It’s great to see that the standard of dealerships is hugely improving, between the new Tesla Store across the road from the Audi Centre, the new Toyota Sandyford dealership around the corner on Heather Road and the various Spirit outlets. Sandyford is now becoming a major player in the Irish car market.
As with regards to the €20 million investment from Charles Hurst Ireland into Audi Centre, it shows a large degree of confidence from them regarding our market – here’s hoping it remains successful.