Jonathan Chariff was building a new BMW dealership in South Florida when executives of the German luxury marque called him to ask: Can you make a few changes in your design to suit something we have in mind?

As a result, Chariff’s South Motors BMW has premiered BMW’s Retail Next Program for North America, making it the first among the brand’s 351 locations throughout the continent to offer BMW’s new retailing concept in a showroom.

The design concept features a handful of vehicles on display, with high-end furniture and lounge-like seating surrounding the models, and five-star hospitality.

“You can sit next to the car and talk with a sales associate and build out your car on screens there, or you can sit in a separate area if you want more privacy for those discussions,” Chariff said. “The atmosphere is comfortable leather seating, round tables, and not a computer in between you and the salesperson. And the whole showroom is opened up more, with high vaulted ceilings in certain areas. Instead of a hallway from service to sales, the viewing corridors are wide and you can see from one area to the other.”

Chariff likened the process of ordering a vehicle at the new dealership to sitting around with an interior decorator. “It’s like going into a home and having a conversation,” he said. “You’re building your own car like working with an interior decorator, with different pallets on the screen, like when you’re picking out carpet or a couch. It’s similar to that but on steroids.”

South Motors’ new BMW showroom is about 25,000 square feet and cost about $21 million to construct. “There wasn’t any significant increase in costs because of Retail Next,” Chariff said. BMW will work with dealers to redesign existing showrooms around the Retail Next concept or to build new facilities.

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