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Business is fun at Bauer Millett

Mitch Millett is a surprise. At 24, he is managing director of Bauer Millett, a Hummer, Corvette and Cadillac dealership in Manchester, a business he has run for two years since his father died.

The site, underneath the arches, isn’t your typical dealership. Uneven painted floors, problems with damp seeping through the arches’ bricks and a parking business sideline deeper into the arches all makes for a very interesting set-up.

Yet, it only seems to compliment the non-conventionality of the cars being sold.

“We try and make it fun to buy cars,” said Millett.

“There’s no point trying to push the hard sell for a Hummer – people either love it or they don’t.

We simply try and ignite our enthusiasm in customers.”

His attitude that everything the dealership does “has to be fun in one way or another” really reflects in the site’s atmosphere.

“We can afford to be quirky with niche brands. We don’t have to be as stiff.”

Despite his enthusiastic approach, he is under no illusions: “Reputation takes years to make and a second to lose. Reputation is everything.”

He currently has 26 staff, with churn almost nil, and is recruiting two sales people.

He owns the business alongside two long-standing members of staff who were given a share by Millett’s father for their loyalty.

Since inheriting, Millett has been restructuring and learning the business at the same time.

He previously worked as business manager at Smith Knight Fay because he and his dad “could not work together”.

He has spent £500,000 on refurbishment and has been breaking even for the last two years.

“I think we’re pretty close to cleansed now.”

Millett expects to make £350,000 profit on £8 million turnover this year, but insists financial targets are not his priority.

“I don’t work by them.

The only target I’ve set myself is to open another site within three years,” he said.

His sights are set on Leeds – near enough for him to oversee and also an ever-strengthening marketplace.

The business started in the early 1970s, run by Millett’s father, Lawrence, and Chris Bauer.

The two parted company in 1998.

#AM_ART_SPLIT# It has had a long relationship with GM North America, but has been through VW, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and TVR in the past.

Its current site, which Millett owns, has only been open for a year.

Despite being in central Manchester “it’s a pretty national business.

It is almost a novelty to sell to people from Manchester”.

It has capacity for 85 cars, but not all of those could be on display.

A side from the core brands, Millett is expanding its prestige used car markets.

These cars currently account for 30% of business. He intends to increase this to 50%.

Bauer-Millett started selling Cadillac in January and sold 32 units in the first quarter.

The 2008 target is 115 units which Millett thinks is “genuinely achievable”.

“I think Cadillac is the biggest growth market we’ve got.

There’s no doubt that the new CTS will change Cadillac’s image,” he said.

Profit margins for Cadillac and Corvette are 12%, and 16% for Hummer.

He expects to sell around 350 units this year.

Hummer and Cadillac will each make up a third of the total.

Corvette and used prestige cars will make up the rest.

“The beauty of having Corvette, Cadillac and Hummer is that they all have completely different non- conflicting brands.

The only crossover is between Escalade and H2.”

Millett says there is a massive preconception with Hummers: “People think they are double the price they actually are.”

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