A Car Dealership – But Not as We Know it; Poole Audi’s State-of-the-art New Centre Opens its Doors to the Public.
Words and photographs by Kim Henson.
Poole Audi has been operating in the east Dorset town for the last 16 years, and has grown steadily during that time, to the extent that it has outgrown its previous premises. It has therefore relocated into a brand new, up-to-the-minute base, which has to be experienced to be believed, in fact representing Britain’s biggest Audi Centre – and one of the largest in Europe.
Since early 2015 the huge, 65,000 square feet Centre has been built on a four acre brownfield site in Poole, and will open its doors to customers on Monday 1st August.
At the recent press launch some 200 invited guests consumed a range of canapé and hors d’oeuvre creations from Michelin-star chef Russell Brown.
This was followed by an entertaining, comprehensive talk and ‘Question and Answer’ session given by Allan McNish. He has been three times winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race with Audi, in addition to having delivered many other motor racing successes during his highly-respected career to date.
He gave a fascinating insight into the physical endurance and deep concentration required by drivers in long-distance races such as the Le Mans 24 Hours event.
David Kelly, Managing Director of Poole Audi, told guests that since opening Poole Audi in 2000, the firm’s staff numbers have grown from 27 to 110, as the business has expanded. He expressed delight with the way in which the firm has achieved enviable levels of customer service in that time (in fact, in customer satisfaction surveys the business has consistently been rated top within Audi UK). He went on to say, “We are bringing together a unique team in a new environment more suited to the 21st Century. This is a very special place to do business”.
Mark Laming, Head of Business and a director of Poole Audi, said that he was very excited about the new Centre and its future prospects. He advised that the firm’s customer base had increased to over 12,000 people in the Poole area (and many customers travel from much further afield too).
Talking about the fast expansion of the business he commented, “The secret of our success is belief in the firm’s staff, who genuinely care about their customers”. He mentioned also that staff retention rates are very high.
The evening was concluded by a brilliant, soulful live performance by vocalist and West End star Beverley Knight MBE, who is well known and respected for her numerous charitable efforts, in addition to her highly successful career in music.
I have visited car dealerships great and small, over many years, but Poole Audi’s new Centre is certainly one of the most interesting and well-equipped that I have seen.
The spacious, stylish new showroom can accommodate and display 24 new Audis, and the new Centre also features three hand-over bays for car-buying customers, plus two HD display configuration rooms and two MoT zones with full valet and SMART repair facilities. There is room on-site for over 90 used cars too…
The vast service workshop features a total of 24 ramps (there’s a technician for each ramp), and much high-tech equipment. This includes sophisticated diagnostic tools, ‘automatic’ MoT test machines, and a ‘stand-alone’ geometry ramp. Heavy duty ramps have been provided for looking after the larger Audis, including the Q7 and R8.
In addition the facilities include three climate-controlled drop-off and pick-up bays, for all service, MoT and sales operations to be able to take place under cover.
I spoke to Tom Phillips, Workshop Controller for the new centre, who told me about his enthusiasm for the new Centre and the way it has been set up; he said that he was very much looking forward to working in the new Centre’s workshop.
More usually found in top class hotels than a car dealership, are a top class fully-equipped gym, plus a spa and relaxation lounges, as well as an elevated, relaxing bar area (overlooking the showroom) with complimentary refreshments being provided.
Poole Audi stresses that customers will be able to enjoy the new facilities while safe in the knowledge that they will not be affected by higher service prices.
(Kim says, “For an update on the latest 66-plate registrations and a new, associated event at Poole Audi’s new centre, please click HERE“).