Christina Ewbank, general manager, at Lookers’ Mercedes-Benz of Brighton and Mercedes-Benz of Eastbourne dealerships, believes a focus on small details can help a business edge a little further in front of the competition.
At the Mercedes-Benz retailers in Brighton and Eastbourne, Ewbank keeps both businesses under the microscope. From service plans to accessory sales, nothing escapes her scrutiny and no stone is left unturned.
Ewbank will share some of the ‘little things’ which have helped the businesses not only weather the storm but boosted sales across all departments in a tough market when she speaks at this year’s AM Hit for Six Conference.
The conference, which takes place at the Quadrangle Conference Centre, Oxford, on November 13, explores the fundamental issues facing new cars, used cars, aftersales, F&I, the digital arena and profit, bringing together experts and dealer case studies to enable delegates to gain valuable insight and tangible solutions under one roof in one day.
Initiatives at the East Sussex businesses include a customer contact programme which puts the responsibility firmly at the feet of the sales staff to forge a personal relationship with the individual customer.
Ewbank said: “A few sales executives have established such a strong relationship with their customers that they will contact them when a service is due but that’s rare.
“They are more likely to contact them with more general information such as the importance of winter tyres or to remind them they can have a free vehicle health check before they go on a long journey.”
A quarter of the centres’ used car customers take advantage of the ‘refresher handover’ when customers are offered the opportunity to return to the business two weeks’ after they have collected their car should they have any questions.
Service plans are considered essential to customer loyalty and Ewbank also views these as the bridge between sales and aftersales teams. Ewbank estimates that on any one day, at least a third and sometimes as high as a half of all the vehicles in the workshop are on service plans.
Ewbank also expects her team to maximise upsell opportunities such as paint and fabric protection which she believes provides a valuable revenue stream to the retailer and offers the customer genuine protection for an expensive asset.
Ewbank has introduced a sales apprenticeship scheme with the six apprentices identified through an X-Factor style process. The ‘find’ has been a former construction worker who made the decision to launch a career in premium brand vehicle retail.
However, Ewbank has not been afraid to introduce small charges for services such as a courtesy car and offers customers add-ons such as oil top up and engine flushes, which all helps to maintain a healthy balance sheet as timings between services continue to increase.
More information and details of how to book a place at the AM Hit For Six Conference are available at www.hitforsixconference.com