The importance of being an optimist and of taking time out to look strategically at the business was emphasised by Trevor Finn.
He described motor retail as not a transformational business, but having obvious trends.
Analysis of some Pendragon businesses over a 20-year trading cycle has shown that sales have increased but profitability per sale has gone down.
“That tells you we’ll sell more and do more and probably not make any more money on average.
“From an optimism point of view, it’s probably more of the same, unless there’s a dramatic shift over 20 years,” he said.
Finn described the internet as the biggest change in his lifetime from a commercial point of view.
Asked how it will affect new car sales, he said: “It will totally change what we do selling new cars.”
His message was to keep moving with the market. The greatest challenge, he said, is keeping momentum going when everybody thinks we’re through it.
“These are the good old days, every single twist and turn is about holding on to the greasy pole. We have to keep climbing.
“For entrepreneurs there’s the danger that you think you’ve made it, but the minute you think you’ve made it you start to slide.”