It may come as a surprise to anyone who typically prejudges a car owner by the car they drive, but Mercedes-Benz has seen a drastic expansion of its demographic over the years, especially to include the younger driver. We had a chance to speak with Helms Brothers Mercedes General Manager Suzanne Cochran about this exciting time for the brand and how it has changed the way her dealership does business.
Now, the desire to own a Mercedes doesn’t only affect those who are starting a family and having a mindset of needing to get into a safer car,” said Cochran. “It’s a little bit of everyone who we are seeing migrate to the brand. Most people who come into the Mercedes brand, stay.”
Cochran has been with Helms Brothers in Bayside for more than 39 years. She said the brand has recently been pleasantly surprised with the way the pandemic has shaped their business.
“Pre-COVID, we were told that younger drivers do not want to drive and will not be buying cars; all they are interested in is rideshare and subscription car service,” Cochran said. “That could not be further from the truth from what we have seen here at Helms Brothers.” She said this, despite the fact that a significant amount of Mercedes business is leasing, especially with younger drivers.
Trends in car buying are far from the usual these days as well.
“We are selling cars by text in some cases and do not even see the client, because the option to have their purchase delivered right to their driveway has become so popular, especially during the past year and a half through the pandemic,” Cochran said. “COVID has enhanced some of our opportunities and has streamlined the process, making transactions more transparent.”
Mercedes-Benz was historically designed for the more mature car owner where what mattered most was comfort and the amenities, especially safety.
“Mercedes has typically leaned toward the older driver; to some extent it will remain that way,” Cochran said. “But there are many options available within the brand to accommodate every demographic.”
Cochran prides herself on the Helms Brothers stellar reputation for their work ethics and inclusive workforce.
“I have a lot of women that work for me,” she said. “The ability to be very genuine and focused on the client’s needs is inherent with who we are as women, a motherly kind of instinct.” She said she believes women multitask, deal with stress and communicate differently.
“When women walk in to our dealership and see so many women, they immediately relax; I think it allows them to have some sort of comfort level that there is some familiarity and we understand how they are feeling,” Cochran said. “We go out of our way to make sure that a woman does not feel like she needs someone else here to help her make a decision, and we recognize how empowered women are today.”
Helms Brothers, established in 1934, has three dealership franchises, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Volkswagen. The business continues its tradition of being family-owned, originally by the brothers, Charlie and Frank. And now by Doug Callahan.
On July 15, Mercedes-Benz revealed its 2021 S 580 4MATIC Sedan (MSRP $116,300).
“This car is going to be off the charts; people cannot stop talking about this car,” Cochran said just a week before its official debut. “I may have 50 on order and 40 of them are already sold at the port; nearly half are brand new Mercedes owners.”
She said the best feature of this flagship S-class sedan is the technology of its newly designed dashboard.
“The performance is always there for Mercedes, but the interior design especially has everybody talking,” Cochran said. “Most brands are moving toward this type of stuff. Some people don’t care about the technology or talking to their vehicle and there are plenty of options for them to bypass that in some respect.”
Helms Bros. Mercedes is located at 208-24 Northern Blvd. in Bayside. Visit www.helmsbros.com or call 718-631-8181 for sales, service assistance and to test drive the new S 580. Visit www.mbusa.com to learn more about the brand and specific models.