Skills can be taught and so can business acumen, but attitude is the group’s key for recruitment success.
It ran two recruitment events across four days this year and advertised on local radio and targeted people that work in hotels and at Birmingham Airport.
SMART repairs was another area the group realised needed to be addressed.
Stenning said many dealerships don’t realise how much they spend outsourcing the repairs: “We were spending £100,000 a year on somebody else coming in to do minor repairs on our cars, which we were quite capable of doing ourselves.”
Arbury now employs two mobile SMART repair operatives, each with their own van, who fix scuffs, paint and wheels across the group.
As well as car preparation and retouching used car stock, Arbury markets SMART repairs to retail customers.
Barrett said: “We have turned what was a cost centre into a profit centre for the group and we feel we can develop it further.”
The recruitment days resulted in interviews for customer advisers, sales executives, services managers and sales managers. Four current managers from across the group interviewed the candidates, a method that Stenning prefers to going out to recruitment agencies. Arbury uses an aftersales manager to interview for aftersales roles.
The group doesn’t do psychometric testing. Stenning believes first impressions count and said his managers will know if a candidate’s character is right for the role and the group within 10 minutes.
The recent recruitment drive has been due to the growth Arbury has seen with Nissan. The group started its second site with the Japanese franchise on September 1 and its Škoda business relocated in June, so both needed staff.
Retail is detail
“I think one of the successes or one of the reasons for the success of our business comes down to our attention to detail,” said Barrett. “We produce very, very detailed management accounts dealership to dealership. A lot of it comes down to David and his ability to have this incredible attention to detail.
“We can look at each site and pick up on the problems that people walk past.”
Barrett produces site comparisons and benchmarking reports.
“For us to be able to benchmark internally, against what are all fairly decently performing businesses, pushes us forward more than to try and benchmark against manufacturer composite,” he said.
Arbury’s approach is to blend the professionalism and processes of a plc with the softer skills of a family-owned business.
Staff are rewarded through quarterly incentives, in addition to commission packages. Half is paid on customer satisfaction and the other half is paid upon achieving budget.
Relationship with Peugeot
While the group is growing with other brands, Peugeot is a major partner.
The French brand has seen its market share eroded over the past 10 years, going from a 200,000-unit franchise to 100,000 units in 2012. Arbury joined the brand at its peak at the turn of the millennium and has enjoyed a strong relationship since.
Stenning said Peugeot gets a bad press in the UK: “Like all brands, you have to learn how to make a profit. We make excellent returns out of Peugeot, the cars are fantastic. If you look at the range, we have no warranty issues and I think the brand is really undersold in the UK.”