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Keep a customer eye on business

Dealer principals hold the success of dealerships in their hands.

Mark Watson, dealer principal at Livingstone Renault, started his career as a parts and service receptionist before becoming a trainee sales executive for Ford. Since then, he has worked in both used and new cars sales before progressing to his current role, which he took over in November.

“Basically, I’m a glorified salesperson. Being a good salesperson makes this job – I have 17 years’ experience and I can share my know-ledge with the team and help them develop their skills.”

“Two main things create success – having a good understanding of the business and making sure you have happy staff.”

Day to day, Watson is in and out of meetings. He also does a daily site walk to see the business through a customer’s eyes. He tries to change one thing each day.

“Each day I have a dealer operation control meeting to review business and look at where we should be in terms of results, as well as agreeing strategies.

“I also get involved with a technicians’ meeting and every Friday, I do training with the sales team.”

Watson also has meetings with manufacturers, replies to emails and deals with any customer issues.

“I love waking up in the morning and coming to work feeling that, despite working for a large plc (Pendragon), I am running my own business and can make a difference.”

In the future, Watson hopes to move to a business with an attached bodyshop and in the next 10 years become a regional dealer principal.

His advice for budding dealer principals: “You can’t buy experience – you need to be prepared to adapt and continue to have fresh ideas.”

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