Silver Wellington Motors
Bronze Perrys of Rotherham
Behind the success of Corkills Wigan in taking gold lies a story of how a dealership can be transformed by the right management team.
Corkills Motor Group had VW dealerships in the Isle of Man and at Crosby, Lancs, when it took over the bankrupt Wigan Motor Company in January 1996. The business had been losing money for some time, had a poor reputation for customer care and was not highly regarded by the local community. Understandably, the workforce was disenchanted.
Sally Hislop, Corkills group marketing manager, said: “Things looked bleak but our mission statement is 'care, not just cars', and this ethos lies at the heart of our success.”
The first step was to get the right team in place at Corkills Wigan. By June 1998, with dealership systems working, a marketing programme was launched to raise its profile and awareness among VW users and potential customers.
Carter & Carter's assessor comments: “This is a well-managed company with the whole team enthusiastic about what they do and how they do it. Clearly, it's a formula that works.
“The company has shown that good customer service is profitable, especially at a time when dealers are finding it increasingly difficult to make a profit.”
Corkills Wigan has undergone a major revamp so that it conforms to Volkswagen's 'new retail experience'. Sally Hislop said: “The team chose to remain on site throughout the renovations despite the disruption, noise, draughts and dust. A relaunch party is planned for January after all the signage is erected.”
Taking the silver award is Wellington Motors, originally a family business founded more than 50 years ago which has been a Nissan dealership for Taunton, Somerset, since 1982. The family shareholders were bought out by the current directors in 1996 and the outlet is on a new 1.6-acre site. The Wellington team has introduced innovations leading to higher turnover and profits.
Neil Mossan, Wellington Motors general manager, said a referral scheme was introduced this year so that customers could earn points for family and friends through sales and services.
The Carter & Carter assessor commented: “The approach is not unique in the motor industry but few dealerships have adopted it, and even fewer implemented it successfully.” The assessor said that in part the success stemmed from careful planning in the development phase. Wellington has also put in place the necessary measurement infrastructure.
Bronze winner is Perrys of Rotherham which has taken care to foster the existing support of local people during an extensive refurbishment.
The Rover dealership has for years been known as 'the mushroom garage' because of the shape of a 40ft structure dominating the building. This was retained during a £1m investment programme by the Perrys Group.
Carter & Carter's assessor comments: “There is a clear commitment from the management team to be pro-active in the local community.
“The dealership involves itself with sport and charities and has combined that with a loyalty card. This entitles the holder to discounts and offers throughout the year. At a time of increasing pressure on dealer margins, the incremental income stream from the loyalty card has proved to be an excellent use of management time.”
Bates of Harold Wood, previously in cramped premises, was moved in April to a new two-acre site close to the M25/A12 interchange in Essex, with a total investment of £3.5m. Bates liaised with BMW, Audi and VW over the facilities they wanted and features include a business suite and a children's area. The site has parking for 130 cars.
Holden Chrysler & Jeep, of Norwich, says “selling the American dream to the drivers of rural East Anglia is no easy ride”. The dealership opened seven years ago as the manufacturers re-entered the UK market. But it is now poised for its most successful year to date, with new vehicle sales forecast to be 49% higher than last year.
Sabers of Norwich is a Holden Group Saab dealership which has operated since 1982. General manager James Jones, appointed four years ago, has transformed the dealership's performance. Last year sales moved to a new site and aftersales followed in June. Between 1996/97 and 1998/99, turnover increased by 64% and net profit by 230%.