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AM Awards 2000 - New Start Business Sponsored by Cap Motor Research

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Gold NMC Sportif Citroen
Silver Nick Whale Holdings
Bronze Toll House Toyota

Former Ixion Motors regional operations director John Miskin is back running his own business, so successfully that NMC Sportif Citroen of Aylesbury, Bucks, scoops gold in this highly competitive category.

Mr Miskin left Ixion in 1998 and last year purchased NMC Servicing which now trades as Sportif Citroen, with a 5.5% new car penetration compared with the 3.5% national figure. “This dealership is the first stage in an overall plan to build a small to medium size dealer group within three to five years,” said Mr Miskin, whose experience of Citroen stems from owning Miskin Motors in Banbury for nine years.

At one time Mr Miskin was regional director for 16 AFG Citroen dealerships and he joined Ixion in 1994. In his first two years with the Oxford region, he turned a £1m loss into a £1m profit, and as a result was promoted to managing director (operations) of the 22-strong business in 1997.

Mr Miskin said the Aylesbury site was at the heart of a retail development near the centre of the town and near an improved road system.

“The dealership's roots had been in used cars,” he said. “The previous owners failed to make a successful move to being franchised.

“Investment to develop the site and the retained dealership were key priorities. A £100,000 refurbishment and the expansion of the site were completed within the first three months.”

Mr Miskin said better communication within the dealership had led to a better performance by the team, with improved CSI results from Citroen. Net profit rose 4% in the first six months of this year.

Carter & Carter comments: “Good planning has been the basis for driving the dealership's performance forward.”

A former Ryland Group main board director who left to form Nick Whale Holdings wins the silver accolade. Nick Whale says he had become disillusioned by the way Ryland was driven by a duty to shareholders.

He became a car salesman straight from school in 1980 and felt he was losing touch with car buyers. Now his own company has Toyota and Lexus outlets, and has acquired Lotus, Jensen and AC franchises.

Carter & Carter's assessor found the approach to staff induction with a clear mission statement about the group's objectives “a refreshing approach to see in a dealership”. This served to explain the company values in doing business.

And that, said the assessor, provided an excellent platform for staff to understand customer values and performance drivers that could be incorporated into their everyday activities in the dealership.

Taking the bronze award is Toll House Toyota, of Slinfold, near Horsham, West Sussex, which is described by Carter & Carter as “a well-managed business with a clear passion for customer care”.

Peter McLaughlin was appointed sales manager of the dealership in 1995. Last year he led a management buy-out which was a catalyst for change and improvement. But, says the company, “you ain't seen nothing yet”. Determination to foster customer loyalty has brought higher net profits on a rising turnover.

Mr McLaughlin said: “At times I take staff to a restaurant for a meeting. On one occasion a couple at the next table overhead the conversation.

“They came into the dealership the next day and bought a car. They told us they had decided 'this is the kind of company I want to do business with'.”

Highly commended
Lexus Newcastle is the result of an investment of £550,000 to create a dealership representing Toyota's luxury brand in the North-east from February 1999, covering an area from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Sunderland. An extensive customer relationship management strategy led to the sale of 151 new cars by late summer, and 132 service customers.

Motor Nation, founded on the site of a former Bristol Street Holdings Ford dealership, is a used car superstore operated by the same company. Following three years of refining and developing the concept, the second site was opened at Widnes, Cheshire, in 1999. Both sites are located to appeal to large numbers of customers up to 45 minutes drive away.

Vincents Daihatsu was opened in March 1999 by the Vincent Group which acquired an ailing dealership at Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The aim was to rebuild customer and staff confidence after a long period of uncertainty. There was an extensive leaflet drop, new signage and a renaming event when customers were able to test drive the latest models.

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