Helfman Maserati hosts party to show off Grecale

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Dealerships don’t always need to sell customers on the car.

Sometimes just putting them in the right environment can do the trick. It helps to add a little glitz to the mix with drinks and fancy hors d’oeuvres, as Helfman Maserati of Houston has found.

The store showcased the luxury brand’s new Grecale crossover for prospective clients during a launch event in September. Consumers got a chance to look at three Grecales on the showroom floor, enjoy plenty of food and beverages, and mingle with brand ambassadors who could share details and answer questions about the vehicle.

Dealer principal Steven Wolf said the store took “six or seven” orders on the spot.

He’s a firm believer that putting products in front of people, without creating urgency or high pressure, still works. The store used this approach, with similar success, for the Maserati Levante crossover in 2016.

For the Grecale event, the dealership arranged the food and drink service, while Maserati added to the atmosphere with decorative banners, a coffee bar and a “step and repeat” for attendees to take photos in front of a background.

About 250 people showed up — mostly past customers and socialites from the Houston area.

“The No. 1 goal is not really to get them to buy,” Wolf told Automotive News. “I think the No. 1 goal is product awareness. It’s a non-sales environment. It’s fun.”

On the morning of the event, Maserati conducted some sales and product training for dealership employees. Wolf said the focus was on the Grecale’s mild-hybrid engine technology and how the crossover stacks up to the rival Porsche Macan.

The Grecale, which also will be offered as a conventional gasoline model, is slated to get a battery-electric variant in 2023 to broaden the portfolio. Maserati plans to go fully electric by 2030.

“They’re really going after Macan,” Wolf said. “They even brought a Macan out with them. They showed the salespeople the difference in performance and styling and technology and standard equipment versus the Macan.”

The Grecale get-together built on the close relationships that the store has developed over the years with its customer base, Wolf said. The dealership sold 193 new and used vehicles last year.

Wolf said the goal of the event was to simply put Grecale on the map and let people know it’s coming.

“There’s not a significant amount of volume over there, [so] it’s very personable,” Wolf said. Salespeople “have tremendous rapport with the customers. When [customers] come in, they know everybody, they know the managers. It’s just a way to [say], ‘Hey, don’t buy the car today, but just let me show you what we’ve got.’ ”