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Eden Vauxhall: Potts’s better world of motoring

Graeme Potts

Graeme Potts wants to create a better world of motoring. He wants a team that shares his ethos and values and a business that puts a smile on every customer’s face.

It’s an idealistic philo-sophy, but then Potts is a self-
confessed idealist.

The former Reg Vardy chief executive and Inchcape retail managing director started Eden Vauxhall in January in a joint venture with Vauxhall Motor Holding.What a time to invest: within months the housing market slumped, the credit squeeze led to the banking crisis and recession was predicted.

None of it fazes Potts. “The economy is not out of our hands. The credit squeeze will create difficulties for some people but the vast majority of potential purchasers are still in the marketplace,” he says.

”A competitive market means offers to the customer are extra-
ordinarily good, so we should be able to sustain our volumes.”

Perfect platform

The five Vauxhall dealerships, acquired from Inchcape for
£14.3 million, give him the perfect platform to stamp his personality on a business for the first time.

He’d always had certain ideologies, many of which are underpinned by his staunch religious beliefs, but they were too often diluted within a big group organisation. 

“I want to build a team that meets my ethos and values. And until we are a long way towards that aspiration, we won’t be expanding substantially,” Potts says.

“A better world of motoring is not just frothy words. It describes my ambition. The values are based on making motor retail better for customers and colleagues.I have loads of energy to ensure it happens.”

Potts expects his customers to have a different, possibly unique, experience at Eden, one that means they will leave with a smile on their face. 

His litmus test is whether the customers look like they have enjoyed the showroom experience. And he’s ready to step in if they haven’t.

“I am working to get people to be smarter and more perceptive about customer signals and to spot the signs when people are not happy so they can do something about it before they leave Eden,” he says.

Potts on...

Parking: “The two biggest differences that people noitce about this business is the warm welcome and the fact they can park. We sacrificed 60 new car storage/display spaces to ensure there is always ample customer parking.”

Staff: “I know what fires people up – appreciation, communication, vibrant atmosphere, motivation.”

Service: “I want to be like a corner shop where someone walks in and a member of staff has the time of day to chat to them, find out what they want and meet their needs.

We are spending money re-educating people to understand that the start of the sale is getting to know the customer.”

Vauxhall: “Vauxhall is a model that works. It is volume and target driven but it has a focus on quality for the customer.

Its prospects for the future are tremendous with small business and fleet customers. It’s among the best propositions because it is product led.”

Trading days: “I always promised myself and God that I wouldn’t trade on Sundays. But there is also a business reason: dealerships are often under resourced and managed on Sundays so the quality of service isn’t as good as on other days.

And, as an industry, we ask a lot of our people and we don’t give a lot back. They know they will always have a Sunday off for family or leisure time.”

Opening hours: “Internet traffic and call centre traffic is increasingly outside working hours. So we have the flexibility so people can visit us in the evening (Tuesdays and Thursdays) after they have had dinner.

Most late night visits are to do a test drive or do the paperwork; not many are first time visits."

  • Read this story in full in the 3 October 2008 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.

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