“I’ll throw some crazy stats at you. A person spends fourteen hours online shopping for a car now. They start looking at third-party sources like Auto.com. Ten years ago you’d go to a dealership. They’d give you a glossy brochure. I don’t even know if I have any brochures,” says Jim Farkas, general manager of Mini of Ann Arbor, pointing vaguely to the showroom, where there must be some brochures somewhere. “Now customers already have answers. They want to confirm that we know what we’re talking about.”

Farkas is also the general manager of Germain Honda, across town. “This thing right here,” he continues, holding up his cellphone, “totally changed how people shop. I don’t even have an office at Mini. I use other people’s offices.” Today he has set up a small tablet on a vacant desk.

The Germain Automotive Group bought the local Mini dealership from Mack Johnson last summer. Johnson “wanted to spend time with his family. He’s enjoying himself,” says Farkas

“Mini is a fun brand,” Farkas says, but he’s frank about the real reason Germain was interested: the dealership at Wagner and Jackson “is prime property.” Germain is “trying to grow our used car side,” and things are getting a little cramped over on S. State.

Farkas likes to think out of the box and is trying to staff Mini following an Apple mode with “‘Mini Geniuses,’ trained in sales, service, and product–kind of a utility player. It’s an entry-level job, but we send them to classes in New Jersey to learn how to do this.”

Mini of Ann Arbor, 3500 Jackson, (866) 707-1733. Mon. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sun. miniofannarbor.com