Gold Dixon Motors
Silver Charles Hurst Group
Bronze Peter Hawke Garages
Dixon Motors, which in recent years has grown in turnover and influence, takes gold for a marketing performance typical of its boundless confidence. The group has entered a number of categories for the first time and success in marketing was always a strong possibility.
The submission by Dixon provides a 'best practice' approach of marketing campaigns by addressing the basics first.
Carter & Carter comment: “The clever part has been that the activities have been co-ordinated and focused to maximise awareness, sales leads and brand positioning/image.
“In addition, the activities have been developed and managed by the internal marketing department and not an agency.”
Carter & Carter adds that Dixon has also demonstrated it is in touch with customers by launching its 'real price list', breaking ranks with motor manufacturers' recommended retail prices.
“Easy, innovative and everyday” are Dixon's three messages and they form the basis of all its marketing activities.
The group has recruited its public relations team to support advertising, and claims to be the only motor retailer quoted in the national press on the Competition Report. Dixon's customer loyalty Easycard gives up to four months interest-free credit, with regular offers through mailshots.
Belfast-based Charles Hurst Group, which wins the silver award, is part of Lookers plc and provides the centralised marketing service for the entire group.
Carter & Carter says Charles Hurst uses a range of marketing media to good effect to support marketing initiatives – “something most dealers shy away from because they prefer to use one medium for most communication.
“The vision to in-source the marketing activities of the group have clearly built a store of knowledge and expertise in media communication that has benefited the whole group.”
Impressive cost savings have flowed from the decision to use a central unit for negotiation on the cost of ad space, compared to when they were previously taken in isolation in local business units.
Recently the group secured a 43% discount with a newspaper chain. The marketing team's philosophy is: 'It is better to reach those who count than to count those which you reach.' Peter Hawke Garages, which carries away the bronze award, bases its entry on the integration of a customer loyalty programme into business culture and development of marketing strategies.
Carter & Carter comments: “Understanding the needs and expectations of target customers has been a major ingredient to developing a relaxed and family-friendly environment in sales – something many leading dealers fail to achieve.”
Peter Hawke, who founded this Mazda/Kia dealership at Huddersfield 20 years ago, believes in putting something back into the community. Mr Hawke's love of music led to the sponsorship of the Peter Hawke Garages Lindley Band whose uniforms incorporate the company colours and logo.
There is an annual barbecue for existing and potential customers.
Corkhills Motor Group
The starting point for Corkills' marketing approach is managing director Adrian Kermode's motor rallying, linking the head of the company with success and part of the 'fun' image. The 2000 marketing strategy had included cars as prizes and use of celebrities, including Ricky Tomlinson from the BBC TV series 'The Royle Family' and controversial former MP Edwina Currie.
Based at Crewe Cheshire, this Vauxhall Motors Holding dealership appointed Alexandra Barnett as marketing co-ordinator (initially part-time, now full-time) to coordinate promotional activities as the company expanded. Projects have included 'women at the wheel' evenings and, after six years, Grasmere won the 'best motor trade' stand at Nantwich Show.
Motor Nation was last year's Automotive Management Awards gold winner for marketing. The Bristol Street Holdings' used car superstore, with sites in Birmingham and Widnes, Cheshire, has invested in marketing initiatives tied in to television and radio which is part of the programme to create national awareness of its sites.