What is the best lighting for car dealerships?

Be The Light: LED Insights for car dealerships from a success story.

What is the best lighting for a car dealership? A better question might be, “How do you bridge the gap between digitial and physical reality?” according to Jeff Richmond, General Manager at Valley Imports, in Fargo North Dakota..

First impressions and customer satisfaction dictate the pace of sales and lighting can help keep the dream of the customer alive, You don’t want what they fell in love with online to die when they walk in the door”

Jeff has been in the car dealership industry for over 30 years. He’s watched as the industry and customer behavior has changed with the times — perhaps the biggest change being the shift from in-person shopping to online shopping.

In earlier years, customers would come and drive by the dealerships, or walk through the parking lots, checking out each vehicle to see which one they want. At that time, Jeff said, lighting was crucial for drawing customer attention and making the sale. Today lighting is about not losing the sale.

earn customers business

Quote From— Jeff Richmond, Valley Imports General Manager

Today, customers do their shopping and research online, they decide which car they want to buy before they’ve even seen it on the lot. Lighting and presentation are responsible for living up to the pristine photos that customers see on your website.

At Valley Imports in Fargo North Dakota, where they sell Audi, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi, presentation is everything — from screen to reality.

“We offer 40-60 pictures on our website for each of our cars, because our cars have so many options. For the fancier cars, people like to look for their unique customizations. If we don’t give them a quality online experience, we’ve failed them,” he said. “And when they do finally decide to pull that ripcord and drive on the lot, if that car doesn’t look as good as it does in the pictures online, we’ve failed them again.”

good led lighting sells cars

Jeff equates it to the experience of seeing a juicy Hardy’s hamburger in a sexy commercial.

“In the commercial, the burger looks like a million bucks. Then you run over to Hardy’s and you open the box and the burger looks nothing like it, There’s a level of disappointment that the next time you see a commercial, you will not go get it. That’s what we’re trying to avoid with the right LED lighting.”

So what is the right light? Jeff Richards turns to the lighting experts at GoodBulb for that. As a long-time customer — over a decade! — Jeff knows that working with Lumen Masters, Valley Imports is able to follow the lighting designs sent over from the car manufacturers and create a dazzling showroom experience for customers.

“I like to see my reflection in the paint and you can only do that with the right lights,” Jeff said. “The diagram is important, but having the right bulbs is 75% of the job.”

  • Tip from Lighting Expert Adam:  Warm lighting that is 2700K to 4000K is wrong in a car dealership. If you want to feel the positive energy, if you need your hoods to sparkle, if you want those paint jobs to shine, then high CRI 90+ 5000 Kelvin is your bulb and it's available in light bulbs of every shape and every size your dealership may require.
interior led lighting for car dealership

Which LED lighting is a good choice for car dealerships?

At Valley Imports, you can find the showroom lights on 24/7.

“People like to press their nose up to the glass and see the cars,” Jeff said. “I think the lighting on our brands gets people to stop, and then the lighting on the interior gets people to stay.”

Using long-lasting, sustainable LED lighting has been a game-changer when it comes to longevity and energy-saving, Jeff said. 

“When this facility was built in 1998, non-LED bulbs were used throughout,” Jeff said. “Today, even with rising energy costs, we spend much less than we did in 1998. We’ve added two showrooms since then as well, and our bills are still less than they were.”

Yes, LEDs do cost more upfront, Jeff said — but in the long-run, they not only look better, but they make up the cost by lowering your energy bill over time.

“It costs you a little bit more today, but the longevity of GoodBulb LEDs, and the difference they make, it’s really a no-brainer,” he said.

car dealership Fargo ND

What is the best lighting for the service department?

Another area of the car dealership where lighting becomes crucial is the service department. Here is where technicians take your vehicle for upkeep — and no, it’s not a dark, greasy, place.

“The old perception of dealership service departments being dark and dingy and technicians being covered in grease, and lighting being bad — people get that from TV shows,” Jeff said. “Today, it’s not like that. First of all, most shops are pretty open. A customer walks in, and they can see almost all of the 27 bays without walking too far. They want to see their car, see it up on the hoist, and see the work being done. It’s important to be light and bright and inviting.”

Having proper lighting for your service department is important not just for customers to see, but of course, for the technicians too! Jeff sees it as an investment that enables technicians to do their job better, as well as show them you value their work.

“From an employee view, technicians deserve to work in a well-lit environment,” he said. “You come to work each day and your bay is bright and clean. They don’t get down in the dumps in the middle of the day because they’re working in a dungeon. So you can see what you’re doing, and you feel valued as a technician.”

better light for car dealerships
What is the best lighting for car dealership parking lots?

While customers may not be doing their drive-by shopping as much as the pre-online-shopping era — people are still checking out your cars while they drive by. This is where parking lot lighting can shine. Jeff’s seen it happen time and time again:

“Say you want a bright red beetle, and it looks like a million bucks online. One Sunday afternoon, when the dealership is closed because you don’t want to get hassled, you come over and look at the car. You can see it while you’re driving down the road. But when you pull up, and it does not look good. The lighting is so poor that you can’t even really tell. You cant see the interior, the shine on the aloe wheels, the shine on the Volkswagen logo on the hood of the car. All of those disappointment touches, you can avoid if you have the right lighting.”

GoodBulb has supplied all of the Valley Imports exterior and interior lighting. Our lot is clean and super bright. GoodBulb experts have always been there to help, when we need it.

“I can tell you that there’s not a lot of dealers who do a good job with lighting in small towns. They think it's a waste of money. But it’s not a waste of money; they have no idea how many sales they’re losing by their cars not standing tall on their lot.”
— Jeff Richmond, Valley Imports

right light for car dealership

Why is lighting important for car dealerships?

Sometimes, Jeff said, it can be hard to demonstrate the value of investing in good lighting for your car dealership. However, the energy ROI is undebatable, he said.

It’s part of staying competitive in an industry that is swiftly changing, with new competition always around the corner. Jeff looks to new competitors – such as purely online car sales or car vending machines — and shakes his head. In the end, small-town car dealerships aren’t simply a place to buy a car; they’re a place where you build a relationship with your “car guy,” and where you can see a friendly face. It’s a business name you might see as a sponsor for local community events, or at your kid’s school.

“I saw a billboard that said, ‘When was the last time Amazon sponsored your Little League team?’” Jeff said. “Local dealerships are some of the biggest providers of sponsorships to local organizations. I hope people think about that.”

Nevertheless, change is already here. It’s up to small-town dealerships to find ways to stay competitive in these new markets.

“You have to figure out a different way to set yourself apart,” Jeff said. “Having your car stand tall no matter where the customer is shopping — online, in your lot, in your showroom. As soon as a customer is let down, they’ll leave. Your cars have to be looking like a million bucks at all times. And with the right lighting, they can.”

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