Six of the motor retail industry's top business managers will now fight it out to win this year's prize – an all-expenses paid trip to NADA 2001 in Las Vegas as a guest of GE Capital Woodchester.
The other four finalists are: Martin Dillow, Lancaster Sevenoaks, Kent; Philip Bates, Perrys Milton Keynes; Gary Norris, Norris Brothers, Tamworth, Staffs, and Ian Rimmer, RRG Toyota.
The decisive round will take place in Edinburgh on November 20. Judges from GE Capital Woodchester, performance specialists Mitac and Automotive Management will test the finalists on their F&I knowledge and assess a business presentation from each candidate. Neil Clyne, GE Capital Woodchester sales director, said: “I have been impressed by the high quality of all the entries this year. I am sure the final is going to be fascinating and hard fought.”
Mr Bignell won £1,000 in cash and took his place in the final by clinching the last quarterly round of the year. His 'Even Loan' – developed from a similar facility offered by Egg – offers customers flexible finance and interest calculated on a daily basis.
The scheme breaks away from the traditional conditional sale model and allows the customer to choose how and when to make capital repayments.
“We developed this scheme ourselves and we are funding it ourselves,” said Mr Bignell. “No other bank and no other dealer in the country is offering this facility which puts the customer in charge of his own finances.”
Paul Tavernor, Mitac director and one of the judges, said: “The Hooleys' scheme is genuinely innovative and, because it offers the customer something unique, is hugely valuable in building satisfaction and loyalty.”
Andy Shuter, highly commended in this round, has pushed Renault Leeds to the top of its regional customer satisfaction ratings for finance advice and explanation. Mr Shuter uses a simple finance calculator on his computer screen to show customers the benefits of taking his finance packages.
“I invite them to have a play and see. It's a front end tool that doesn't require a degree in computing to work or understand,” said Mr Shuter. “In the last two months our finance penetration has soared.”
Only one business manager will make the trip to Las Vegas. But every entrant in this year's Award for Financial Excellence has been enrolled in the Academy of Financial Excellence. They will continue to receive privileged access to Automotive Management events and finance industry briefings from GE Capital Woodchester.
A full report of the final and details of the winning presentation will appear in Automotive Management in December.