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Virtual aftersales business

London-based Premier Marques has established a virtual aftersales business to cope with the increasing demand for servicing and repairs for marques that are no longer represented in the city.

The non-franchised business already operates as a middleman for customers of its luxury marques such as Aston Martin and Bentley after establishing relationships with franchised dealers’ workshops, and has now extended that service to include ChryslerJeep models.

Clive Sutton, chairman of Premier Marques, says he is handling “eight to 10” Chrysler and Jeep models everyday following the collapse last year of the two-site Capital Chrysler group. “There are no authorized aftersales departments in this area now so we are collecting cars from customers and sending them to ChryslerJeep dealers for service and repair,” he says.

“Our own drivers collect and deliver the cars and we take a margin. The franchised dealer gets business given to them and does not have to pay for collection and delivery, or liaise with the customer. We do all that.”

Sutton, who sold his ChryslerJeep business to Capital Chrysler in March 2005, has taken on two former service advisors to handle the business, which has so far been unsolicited. “I’m just responding to my old customers that are coming back to me. We make it clear that we are not a franchised dealer, but that we can offer them a facilitated service where we collect and drop off their car.”

He believes the success of the initiative shows that convenience and physical interaction is more important to customers than where the repair is carried out. Few require loan cars because of complications over the congestion charge and parking permits, which keeps Sutton’s costs low.

Cars within warranty are sent to franchised dealers, older cars are repaired with genuine parts at Sutton’s own independent workshop in North London.

Chrysler has yet to find a replacement retailer for Capital Chrysler and outgoing UK managing director Simon Elliott says the company is considering a new approach, which could see representation circling the M25 rather than in the city. He also suggests that more people are buying cars online, but Sutton firmly rejects that idea.

“We are also selling some new ChryslerJeep products on demand to fulfil a need,” he says. “I can’t accept that Londoners only want to buy cars on the internet – they want to visit a showroom.”

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