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Pentagon's Trevor Reeve explains the vital role of training in his expansion plans

“I only have to get involved when I need to, mostly with manufacturers, and the group team is empowered to get more and more involved and grow the business,” said Reeve.

“It certainly helps when we do acquisitions to have a full team of people that can get involved immediately as we take a dealership over.”

Learning the hard lessons from Pentagon's acquisitions

At the end of last year, Pentagon agreed to take over Grimshaws Vauxhall, a two-site group in Manchester with a corporate fleet division in Bolton. That came some eight months after it took on its third Peugeot dealership, buying a business in Keighley from Co-Op Motor Group. Both additions were up to speed in the first quarter of this year.

Acquisitions prior to that included some hard lessons in the cost of turnaround and integration, said Reeve.

“I get the group team involved now in any potential acquisitions because we’ve learned that maybe in the past we’ve made decisions that not everyone has been involved in.”

“Now from the early stages we get the manufacturer in, get a three-year business plan, go through it all and sign off on it, so if it presents more problems when we actually take it over everybody feels involved.

“It’s big for us, because as a private business we can’t afford to have a portfolio with a number of sites losing money.”

Reeve is particularly proud of Pentagon’s appointment of its group training manager.

She’s setting the pace, is owning the role and passionately believes in developing Pentagon’s people. More than 100 training courses are already in place, and staff who fail to attend face a fine. The company analyses performance pre- and post-training and further measurement is in place in the months afterwards. Furthermore, all the front-line staff receive online ‘Pepp-Torques’ monthly with further guidance on improving performance.

“Because it is online we can all see it. Now if we’ve a problem with a service consultant, the group service manager could look at it with the GM and service manager, and we’ll know exactly what was said, what action plan has been put in place.”

Pentagon’s incentive model is based on performance. Reeve said the company has looked at regrading everybody based on position and length of service because pay has suffered in the past few years and he wants his people to feel they’re getting their share of the group’s success now.

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