The Majestic mountain backdrop is stunning.
One of the newest Volkswagen dealerships in Quebec recently opened its doors just a heartbeat away from the majestic Laurentians, in Ste-Agathe.
The satellite Volkswagen store opened in June and is strategically situated between two others in St-Jérôme to the south and Mont-Laurier to the north. “We’re about an hour north of Montreal,” notes Yan Deroy, General Manager, Ste-Agathe Volkswagen. The store is also situated close to the TransCanada Highway, in full view of passersby and convenient for commuters.
Boasting 15,000 square feet, the brand-new store opened on June 26, and already sold 25 vehicles in July. “For us, that was an excellent start,” says Deroy. Volkswagen gave the new store 200 new cars so that customers could have a choice. That helped us a lot.”
Clean and modern
The Laurentian sun beams in through tall windows, lighting up the airy space. The trademark clean and modern Volkswagen White Frame design provides a fresh, minimalist atmosphere. White walls and furniture are interspersed with wooden surfaces and tables, as well as understated but comfortable dark blue chairs. Deroy explains that this is the “2.0” version of the White Frame design, complete with a black ceiling. The dramatic square lights above can change colour.
A backlit welcome wall in white and deep blue greets visitors with “Bienvenue chez Volkswagen.” At night, the dealership is discretely lit up so passers-by can see inside. “It’s always welcoming, no matter what the time of day,” asserts Deroy.
And the new Volkswagen logo is everywhere, beckoning with its dark navy and silver letters. The crisp and clean look of the store, against the backdrop of the lush green mountains, makes a powerful statement.
The customer lounge provides a wide-screen TV for clients and guests, as well as an electric fireplace, to warm up during the cold Quebec winters. Customers can also take their choice of coffee or tea, or different cool beverages like soda or sparkling water. They can plug in their laptops, tablets or phones from the many outlets around the lounge and the store.
Deroy claims he has the nicest staff lunchroom of any Volkswagen dealership in Canada. “When our staff sit down to lunch, they can look over two large windows and see the gorgeous mountains and forest!” he says.
Although the Ste-Agathe store is a satellite location, it still has a service department as well as a parts department. However, it doesn’t have a collision repair centre – those are sent to other stores close by.
Customers can purchase some vehicles through the Ste-Agathe website. Electric vehicles are proving popular, and the dealership has five chargers – four level 2, and one level 3 fast charger. “The Level 2 is good for charging overnight, for example, when a customer will take delivery in the morning,” explains Deroy.
Right now, there are 13 staff. “We’re just beginning,” describes Deroy. That includes three technicians and two salespeople. Deroy is sure that the store will grow quickly.
Transition to EVs
So far, the best-sellers are the Tiguan, the Taos and the Atlas. Deroy observes that since Quebec’s winters are cold and the snow is deep, everyone needs SUVs. The ID4 is also popular.
Electric vehicles like the ID4 are not uncommon in Ste-Agathe, where the transition from gas-powered to electric has already taken hold. Deroy says the demographic is an older, wealthier clientele who drive mostly locally and rarely go outside the community. “That’s perfect for electric vehicles and great for us,” he claims.
Deroy is dealing with the inventory shortage directly. “It always comes down to how you speak with customers,” he states. “You have to explain and be honest about how it’s going to work.” One of the advantages of the Ste-Agathe store is that the owner also has four other Volkswagen locations, and vehicles can be found and picked up from those stores. “We can make trades with them,” notes Deroy.
Customers understand that if they order a vehicle, it may take a couple of weeks, a month, or even longer, depending on the model. “The average wait time can change with every vehicle.” But Deroy stresses he and his staff are always realistic with customers, so if they order it, they are prepared to wait. “Customers have changed the way they buy cars because we have changed the way we sell cars.” Still, Deroy emphasizes, “The most important thing is to stay honest. “That’s the way I work and my staff work, say the right things, and you can sleep well at night.”