BMW became inspired by who meets potential customers in Apple’s retail stores that it will soon require its dealerships to hire young, tech-savvy employees for its showrooms too. After conducting a trial in UK in 2012, the "BMW Genius Everywhere" program will soon be launched throughout Europe.
Later this year, a pilot program in the U.S. will start in certain stores. By early 2014, the program will be seen nationwide. Under this program, BMW will train these young employees (most of whom are college students) to be strolling through the dealerships with their iPads. These BMW "Geniuses" will not handle sales.
Instead, they’re tasked to give information to potential customers about the features of the vehicles. This is the same approach used in the Genius Bar program in each Apple outlet where product explainers and troubleshooters respond to questions and provide technical support. The same programs are used by Cadillac and Lexus have similar programs in their dealerships in the U.S.
Peter Miles, BMW of North America's vice president of operations, said that by early 2014, there will already be a "critical mass" of Geniuses by the time that it rolls out the i3 electric car in its U.S. dealerships.
Ian Robertson, BMW board member for sales and marketing, said that the salesman has a “complicated job.” The salesman would need to learn the product and financial services as well as receive training. He explained that the tasks have become “a little too broad” so it now wants to break up the process into smaller steps.
The workers in Europe wear a white polo short that has "BMW Genius" printed on it. They don’t get commission. Instead, they receive a salary. He added that the BMW Genius doesn’t feel any pressure to sell the car. The potential buyer is handed over to a salesman once there’s interest to take the next step.