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Face to Face: CEM Day reaps the dividend of diversification

The dealerships use a Pendle-based sales process, but one which the group has toned down and tailored to its own company values and experience. A process is crucial to ensure customer expectations are met, he said, but in cases when a salesman is dealing with a customer they’ve known for years the process is often less important than the relationship and trust between them.

“One of the biggest things for us is the loyalty and quality of our staff,” said Russell Day. He has reminders on his calendar that show some staff are in their 30th or 40th year with the company, and ensures they get a thank you from the directors for their work. He believes there is a clear connection between the loyalty and quality of staff and the experience and relationships they have with customers. The group’s investment in training, both manufacturer-driven and independent, is significant, he said, but training alone cannot make the company successful.

“A lot of it is from experience and constantly trying to improve every aspect of the business. You do get to know how to make a customer feel valued, and similarly for the staff. We don’t have outrageous packages for staff, but there’s a culture that exists within the group and a sense of security. It’s not down to reward necessarily, it’s more to do with the working environment and the colleagues we work with.”

“We’re a family business, not a plc, and any member of staff knows they can go speak to their managers to discuss problems. It’s important to show that we do care about our people.”

It also puts great trust in systems and controls. Monthly performance reviews and meetings take place, using video conferencing technology to save time travelling between branches, and its ADP dealer management system enables the senior team to measure each department in real time. Sales staff are set targets on test drives and email capture as well as sales volume and add-ons.

Aftersales systems include a centralised parts wholesale centre for all franchises, 14 vans with telematics trackers to measure utilisation, a telesales centre with 20 dedicated direct lines that handle incoming calls in addition to booking services and rental vehicles. It also introduced a service app and online service-booking facility and has online parts and accessories shops under the Motor Parts 4U brand.

The group is introducing iPads in all its showrooms to allow staff to provide a level of service that customers will expect after they’ve done their own research online.

Russell Day explained: “We’ve tried to remain as cutting-edge as possible. There still isn’t a proper system out there that I’m happy with, to be honest, that meets my expectation of what should be available for our sales people to use.

“You go to your supermarket and they can swipe a product you buy and it’ll build a history of how many times you’ve bought it, your Nectar points etc. Our industry is suffering from being a bit behind other retail industries.”

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