BMW taps Apple's Genius model to educate customers

Dealerships will have young employees on the showroom floor answering questions possible customers might have about cars -- without the sales pressure.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
Apple's Genius Bar.
An Apple's Genius Bar File photo by Caroline McCarthy/CNET

BMW is taking a page out of Apple's book with a Genius-like program, according to a report.

The car maker told Advertising Age in a story published today that it's planning to launch its BMW Genius Everywhere program nationwide next year that will aim at educating customers without actually trying to sell them vehicles. The "geniuses" will be young -- possibly college students -- who will be armed with iPads. They'll be able to answer questions about vehicles on the showroom floor.

According to BMW, which was inspired by Apple's Genius services, the program will aid salespeople. With the helpmates roaming the showroom floor, the first spate of questions can be answered without salespeople involved.

BMW's model is a take on Apple's Genius bars, which provide support on the company's products. However, unlike most Apple Genius efforts, which aim at handling issues with products already purchased and at educating the community about its devices, BMW's workers will provide insight prior to the purchase.

BMW is by no means the only company that has looked to Apple for inspiration. Best Buy, for example, is planning to modify its store layouts to make them more open and product-focused. Best Buy has also established a "bar" for customers to learn about products being sold in the store.

BMW plans to launch its Genius Everywhere program nationwide in 2014. The company will launch a pilot program in the U.S. later this year.