Without a social media profile, expensive showroom fittings or furniture, coffee bar, Wi-Fi, gaming consoles, children’s play area or tablet-armed salespeople, the single-site Michael Edwards Group business has been singled out as a shining light in one brand’s sales network.
The roadside dealership in Wigan, Lancashire, with a single-bay workshop, could be described as ‘old-school’. Its 20-car showroom is enclosed by glass on three sides with doors at the front and sides and offices to the rear. The building is just over 10 years old and there is little evidence it has had a corporate identity makeover in that time.
Michael Edwards is not an exceptional business in this regard. Yet MG singled it out as its most successful in the UK. Director Mike Latimer is confident he will exceed the brand’s sales target of 100 new cars this year and is confident he can sell between 150 and 200 next year.
Latimer puts the success down to a combination of an uncomplicated approach to sales and a similarly direct one from his franchise partner, plus MG’s “fantastic” small car, the MG3’s, sensible, no-haggle, pricing and generous specification.
“There’s a tendency in the business to overcomplicate matters. In an ideal world, manufacturers should price cars at the value they would sell them for,” Latimer said.
“Why price a car at £25,000, if you will sell it for £20,000 two weeks after you’ve launched it? It means customers are always waiting for the next deal. They know from the outset they can get the price down.”
“No one buys a sofa unless there’s a sale on – and there’s always a sale on. I believe the same mentality drives the car industry.”
Latimer’s showroom can accommodate up to 20 cars. He has 10 MG3s on show and will have a single MG6 soon. He has a couple of other makes of used cars inside and more outside on the half-acre site.
There is little MG branding – fascia signage, a totem outside, a ‘colour and personalisation’ board, plus a touchscreen configurator. Latimer doesn’t see this as a weakness: “Customers of high-end brands would more likely expect a certain standard of showroom – the latest tiles, furniture and tech.
“But when I see the same standard applied to mainstream brands, the impact on customers can be intimidating, leaving the impression of the nicer the showroom, the more they think they can charge. It can pay off for the dealer as margins can be higher.”