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AM Awards 2000 - Aftersales Sponsored by Warranty Holdings

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Gold Prestons BMW
Silver Corkills Motor Group
Bronze Perrys Motor Sales

Out of a family of coal merchants founded in Lancashire in 1906 has emerged Prestons BMW, winner of the gold award in the aftersales category. The Colne-based company's mission statement is to be “the most forward looking BMW dealership in the UK”.

It has held the BMW franchise since 1977, selling more than 500 new and used cars last year. Prestons has also developed a successful aftersales department and risen to the top three out of more than 150 dealers in BMW GB's customer satisfaction ratings.

Last year, the Prestons Platinum Club was launched to replace the Privilege Club founded in 1998. As Carter & Carter's assessor observed, the aftersales performance increased significantly between 1996 and 1999, in fact by 33%.

Club members get value-added bonuses such as free MOTs and discounts on parts and labour. There is also access to the Prestons website where local retailers have free ads offering 10% discounts to club members. The retail partners include clothing shops, a restaurant, gold club and beauty salon.

Silver glory goes to Corkills Motor Group whose new £2.5m VW dealership is only a few minutes walk from Wigan Pier, one of the top attractions in the North-west. Corkills offers its customers free tickets to the pier, saving on courtesy cars and collection/delivery costs. Innovations include service bookings by e-mail.

This is typical of the group's determination to please customers in an imaginative way. And technicians are rewarded for positive aftersales customer feedback. Within three weeks of the dealership opening, its local rival closed, leaving Corkhills as the sole VW representative.

Sally Hislop, Corkills group marketing manager, said: “This put a massive strain on our business and our standards slipped.

“We immediately recognised this and while we strove to rectify the problem we wrote an explanation to all our service customers and offered them a £10 service voucher.” Carter & Carter's assessor comments: “Corkills' positive reaction to the sudden increase in work demonstrates a rare degree of honesty leading to a hugely positive response from customers.”

Perrys Motor Sales, a Peugeot outlet at Milton Keynes, can in part thank its French Connection cafe for a bronze award winning entry. Aftersales customers can relax with a coffee while they wait for their car.

And within 24 hours of the job being done, customers can enter a monthly draw for a TV by completing a questionnaire.

The judges liked the confident approach of the dealership team which claims to be “the flagship for Peugeot”. Carter & Carter noted performance-enhancing techniques during 1999-2000 which included pre-booking service appointments at vehicle handover and guaranteed fixed price servicing for two years.

Highly commended
Grasmere Vauxhall, founded in 1995 at Crewe, Cheshire, is a Vauxhall Motors Holding enterprise where the manufacturer financially backs entrepreneurial determination. The dealership now employs more than 60 people and has invested in a new £400,000 bodyshop. Twice a year 'warts and all' business review meetings have built loyalty and staff turnover is low.

Lancaster Colchester (Porsche), sited to the north of the Essex town, has been refurbished by Lancaster to reflect the strength of the Porsche marque. The service and parts departments have both shown sharp rises in profit during the past 12 months. It has used a simple 'back to basics' business strategy: “We talk to our customers.”

Prophets Garage (now Sytner). Prophets Garage last month rebranded as parent compnay Sytner. Based in Solihull, an affluent area of the West Midlands, the company needs to be professional in all aspects of the business representing BMW. The aftersales manager listens to random calls, checking quality of customer handling remains high. The company produces detailed analysis of workshop productivity.

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