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Trouble at Eddie Wright

Viewers of a BBC troubleshooting programme last week saw Lincolnshire car supermarket Eddie Wright get a roasting about weak management and demotivated sales staff.

Hidden cameras were installed at the Scunthorpe showroom for three weeks last autumn by the BBC3 series The Ferocious Mr Fixit after managing director Jane Wright and her father Tony, company chairman, appealed for help.

In the month before the covert recordings started, only one of her 16 sales executives had achieved the 21-unit sales target.

The programme revealed sales managers verbally abusing their staff, a junior sales executive receiving no training, and directors oblivious to problems on the showroom floor. In one segment, the company’s longest-serving sales executive simply ignores a ringing phone, and openly tells management consultant Alasdair Jeffrey he was lazy. Viewers also saw operations director Paul Grange quit in protest at Jeffrey’s suggested changes.

Tony Wright says: “There was nothing radically wrong with the company, there were just a few problem individuals. My son, daughter and myself had become cocooned from the showroom floor and didn’t realize the problems, but we’re more hands-on now.”

The company has since “got back to basics” and altered its processes and management structure. It now operates two teams of eight sales executives, with progress reviewed daily. A communications manager monitors follow-up of all incoming calls and emails.

AM-online reported in January 2005 the company’s plans to open a second site within 12 months, and double its £20m turnover. Those plans are yet to be realized, but Wright says it will expand its showroom this year.

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