Gold Perrys Milton Keynes
Silver Lancaster Cambridge (Porsche)
Bronze Motor Nation
After four years of determined effort Perrys Milton Keynes has at last won gold in the Automotive Management Awards.
After taking a special commendation in 1996, the dealership won a bronze in the used car category in 1997. The following year it managed a silver and repeated that achievement last year, in both used car retailing and marketing.
Stephen Thompson, sales manager at the dealership for 11 years, wrote in the entry document: “Automotive Management gold is the one award which consistently gets away from us. We've won every possible award available at least once in the past 11 years.
“That includes the Perrys' chairman 'best run department' award which we have won more often than any other since it was founded in 1920.”
Now the judges have recognised the efforts of a team which has kept in its stride despite losing the Ford franchise in 1998. It now represents Peugeot.
Mr Thompson said: “We never stop trying to improve on what we already do better than most. I feel we rode, better than most, the knock-on effect on used car sales from the 'rip-off Britain' campaign on new car prices.”
To regain the initiative, the outlet started to compare its used car prices with those in mainland Europe. “The campaign has attracted the customers' imagination,” he said. “It does not help with negative equity but we have a plan for that also.”
A programme to build the business which has gathered pace over the past 12 months has won the silver award for Lancaster Cambridge (Porsche).
Realising it was not forging strong links with its customers, Lancaster Cambridge created a calendar of events designed to give customers an insight into the 'Porsche experience'. It was also geared to building a structured relationship with dealership staff.
Carter & Carter comments: “The performance improvements achieved by the strategy are measured by an increase in volume sales of 11% with profit per unit increasing by 27%. A mailshot to customers offering to buy their cars into stock was perceived by the assessor was perceived by the assessor to be successful.
An initiative offering customers meals at a local restaurant instead of a courtesy was seen to be a more effective option.
Lancaster Cambridge, part of the Lancaster Group for more than 11 years, says its used car department has seen volumes increase by 11% with unit profit up by 27%. “In an industry that has struggled in the past year, this is an impressive achievement,” it says. Customer events include a Le Mans race visit.
Motor Nation, which last year won the gold award for used car retailing, must this time content itself with the bronze. This irrepressible Bristol Street Holdings subsidiary has sold 12,000 used vehicles since 1996 and says it has received only 100 claims over the past four years.
Motor Nation managing director David Bocking, with sites at Birmingham and Widnes, Cheshire, is convinced the company has the right formula because many retail buyers want a wide choice. Each of the five-acre sites has a stock of around 300 cars and achieves a stock turn in 32 days.
Recent achievement at Motor Nation include a 6% drop in costs related to sales and the introduction of an appointments card. This has led, it says, to a 100% improvement in appointments kept.
Daewoo Cars, the South Korean manufacturer, through its UK management's used car strategy was placed second in the What Car? 'good used car dealer guide', up from 18th last year. Daewoo says that year-to-date 'known for life' vehicle sales were up by 9% over 1999. The strength of its used car operation, says Daewoo, is selling and servicing cars at its own sites.
Vincent Group, located in the centre of Yeovil, Somerset, wants to retail more of the part-exchanges taken into stock from its Mitsubishi, Rover and Suzuki dealerships. It has launched Compass which though branded separately states that all stock is 'prepared to Vincent Group standards'. The Compass marketing line is “The search is over ....discover the difference”, and this is being heavily promoted in the area.