Margins do suffer as a result, however. Pentagon’s total return on sales is 0.8%, but strip out the fleet part and it rises to 1.4%.
The group also operates six bodyshops. These are a challenge, Reeve admitted, but the group is improving them through marketing a lot of SMART repair services. Coordinated with this is the offering of SMART repair insurance at the point of sale and identification of minor body damage during vehicle health checks on cars that come in for servicing.
What does the future hold for Trevor Reeve?
At several points in the interview, Reeve suggested he’s happy for his group managers to deal with more of the day-to-day running of the business. However, with 23 years of running and growing Pentagon behind him, and his sons David and James working in the business as sales director and marketing director respectively, he still feels no desire to step back significantly and is looking forward to marking the company’s 25th birthday in 2016.
“I wouldn’t know what else to do, that’s my big problem,” he said.
“I’ve tried. I’ve put two operations guys in, I’ve run with a managing director, I’ve tried to do other things and people have said that gives me more time to be more strategic or chair meetings etc. But I like to be out and about, seeing the general managers.
“I like challenges, negotiating manufacturer targets, all that sort of stuff. The biggest challenge for me is keeping that relationship with the manufacturers because they change more than we do. The best thing if you’ve problems is to sit down with manufacturers and resolve them. I’ve got more assertive and if there’s a problem we’ll sort it out.
“So for the foreseeable future I’m going to run it with my group team, very experienced people running the sites. I’m very comfortable with the way we’ve got it set up.”