Anecdotes aside, the numbers support Hopkin’s belief. In the 10 years to 2013, turnover increased 171% and profit 377%. Turnover for Nissan – Glyn Hopkin’s main brand partner – in the same period grew 111% to £193 million. For its second most represented brand, Fiat, turnover increased by 311% to £59.5m. Nissan and Fiat represent 65% and 20% respectively of Glyn Hopkin’s turnover.
The group’s return on sales tracks about 1.7% and 1.8% in recent years. Cohen said he believes it can go beyond 2% in the next five years and he expects turnover to increase to £500m.
“The senior team is always challenging the business to be better, more efficient, with an emphasis on improvement,” Cohen said.
“All the directors are shareholders, so the leadership has a vested interest in seeing the company succeed and a desire to continually innovate and improve profitability.”
This pressure is most obvious in the way staff are trained and motivated.
“We work people very hard here,” said Cohen. “We are constantly monitoring performance and trying to find ways to improve on it.”
The approach has had its rewards in high retention levels. The group has just more than 600 staff, of which about 200 are in sales roles. Some 13 staff have been there more than 20 years, 109 between 10 and 20 years and 101 from five to 10 years.
Such dedication is rewarded. There’s a range of incentives from an extra day’s holiday each year beyond five years service (to a maximum of seven days extra) to £2,000 and a Mont Blanc pen for those achieving 20 years.
How recession revealed the power of the dealer brand
Cohen speaks of the power of the dealer group’s brand, which has worked successfully through considerable challenges over the past 20 years.
“You can’t beat a buoyant market with supportive manufacturers, and product is always going to be key,” he said.
“But if you look at how successful we’ve been, throughout difficulties like recessions, and with the Nissan franchise that hasn’t had the share it now enjoys, together with Fiat and its product challenges.
“The fact we have been consistently successful with our manufacturer partners – and haven’t done this the top three in the marketplace, or prestige marques – is a testament to the way we operate and the importance of the Glyn Hopkin brand.”
Having a variety of brands, sometimes with more than one at a location, Glyn Hopkin can find solutions to customer’s needs when one can’t.