By pme staff

At Hoffman Auto Group – a nearly century-old, family-owned auto dealership group in the greater Hartford, Connecticut area – employee health and customer satisfaction are always top-of-mind.

With 10 locations across four Connecticut towns, a network of 550 employees, and hundreds of customers walking through its dealerships every day, Hoffman sought a beverage offering that would both positively impact the shopping experience for customers and promote employee wellness.

Hoffman installed seven of Elkay’s Smartwell units in six of its dealerships. The beverage delivery system delivers chilled fresh, filtered water – still or sparkling – with customizable flavor options, plus enhancements such as vitamin C, electrolytes and caffeine.

Smartwell aims to encourage healthy hydration across Hoffman Auto Group’s locations through its focus on clean water delivery, says Matt Cremins, manager of national accounts at Elkay. Hoffman also created “Hoffman Healthy” signage alongside the units, reinforcing its company’s own health-driven mission to employees and customers alike.

Installing the Smartwell units across Hoffman’s locations was a smooth, simple process.

“Because Smartwell only requires a single water line, the installation process is a seamless one for contractors,” says Chris Shumaker, national installations and service manager at Elkay. “Once the unit is delivered, it can be set up by a contractor or engineer in less than an hour.”

The response from employees and customers has been overwhelmingly positive, notes Bill Lauridsen, Hoffman’s Audi store manager.

“When I’m walking through our dealerships and I see customers near the unit, I’ll offer them a beverage and point out the flavored water and a variety of options while giving a quick rundown on the machine,” Lauridsen says. “They’re excited about it and eager to try.”

Thanks to full-service connectivity using smart technology, Hoffman staff is alerted when a particular flavor or vitamin enhancement is running low, so Elkay can automatically send replacements as needed. Elkay also has full visibility into traffic, usage and user preferences, so it can anticipate when Hoffman will need a new CO2 tank, or suggest new flavors based on the latest offerings or what’s trending in other locations. For example, after seeing that one of Hoffman’s Smartwell units was receiving lower usage compared to other locations, the Elkay team provided recommendations to move it to a higher traffic area where it could be more accessible for guests.

“Because Smartwell is a fully connected unit, we can anticipate customer needs before they happen — whether that’s replacing CO2 tanks, restocking flavors or adding new vitamins to the mix,” Cremins says.

After installing Smartwell, Hoffman saw benefits in multiple categories, improving customer satisfaction, helping the environment and supporting the bottom line, Elkay executives relay.

“One of the reasons we brought Smartwell in was to eliminate the beverages we were purchasing on a regular basis while still providing guests with a variety of beverage options,” Lauridsen says. “That was one of our primary goals, and we’ve succeeded.”

At Hoffman’s Lexus dealership, switching from single-use beverages to Smartwell resulted in savings of up to $700 a month. When you take that amount into consideration across Hoffman’s other locations, the auto group is saving thousands of dollars a year.

Not only has it saved the dealerships money, but Smartwell offers Hoffman’s employees and customers healthy alternatives to sugary soft drinks, at no expense to the user. Access to flavored water with optional enhancements such as vitamin C and electrolytes is an amenity that can improve employee and customer satisfaction.

In addition, Smartwell promotes environmental sustainability by reducing the number of single-use plastic bottles and aluminum cans that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The installations completely replaced Hoffman’s purchases of bottled and canned beverages: In 2018, Hoffman saved more than 110,000 bottles and cans from waste across all of its locations, furthering its mission of being “Hoffman Healthy” to the environment, Cremins notes.

“Everyone’s excited about it, because it’s something new that they haven’t seen before,” Lauridsen adds. “And, they have the choice of the different flavors and different varieties. [Customers] are excited when they realize what it is, and the feedback has been all positive.”

Looking ahead, Hoffman Auto Group plans to expand Smartwell to additional dealerships.