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Devonshire Motors completes double with Hyundai and Isuzu franchise additions

Nathan Tomlinson, owner and dealer principal, Devonshire Motors

Devonshire Motors has completed a double with the addition of Hyundai Motor UK and Isuzu UK franchises to its award-winning car retail operation in Barnstaple, Devon.

The AM Award-winning single site business has taken on the Korean brand and Japanese pick-up specialist in a move that dealer principal Nathan Tomlinson hopes will “future proof” his business after long-standing partner Mitsubishi prepares to withdraw its new car franchise from the UK.

Both Devonshire Motors’ new OEM partners will reside under the same roof at the business’s showroom on Braunton Road, Barnstaple.

Tomlinson revealed that the site is being redeveloped as part of “an exercise to sensibly upgrade our facility with the aim of improving customer experience and making our operation as efficient as possible”.

Hyundai sales from the site will get underway in August while Isuzu retail operations got underway in April.

This week Devonshire Motors welcomed Mitsubishi Motors in the UK’s Paul Alexander as its new aftersales operations manager, hailing the move as the start of a “major transitional period” for the business.

Tomlinson said that last 12-months had been “a real test” as the team had worked through the challenges of COVID-19 while “reinventing the entire business at the same time” following news of the end of Devonshire Motors’ 30-year sales franchise relationship with Mitsubishi.

Pivotal year for Isuzu and Hyundai

But he said the business is looking forward to a “very busy future in vehicle sales” in what is a pivotal year for both Hyundai and Isuzu.

Hyundai Motor UK will expand its electric vehicle (EV) offering with the launch of its new EV-only Ioniq range – starting with the Ioniq 5 hatchback – while Isuzu hopes Devonshire Motors will be one of 10 new franchise partners in 2021 delivering growth with its new D-Max pick-up.

Tomlinson said: “Both of these partnerships mean a lot to us, the responsibility and relationships aren’t something we take lightly.

“I’ve always admired Hyundai, their vision and energy, and their incredible product line-up.

“When you look towards the future you have to think that Hyundai are going to be a significant part of it, they already have some amazing technology and seem to be way ahead of the curve when it comes to planning and R&D, with well advanced EV and hydrogen solutions.

“In many ways, although on a much different scale, you can say the same for Isuzu. The new D-Max product is exceptional and as future-proof as a pick-up can be right now.”

Tomlinson said that a centralised CRM and concierge structure was key to Devonshire Motors’ future growth plans, allowing the business to process sales and aftersales enquiries in “a completely unique and scalable way, both physically and digitally”.

“We have a very effective lead generation approach, which runs alongside our traditional marketing activity, to ensure we’re consistently targeting in-market conquest business as well as communicating with our existing customers. The concierge team are a vital initial point of contact - to create a great first impression and then to build trust and rapport over time, either physically or digitally. Having the same people looking after you from enquiry through purchase and then during ownership, at every stage, is a huge factor in creating loyalty and lasting relationships” he said.

2021's aftersales prospects

Commenting on Devonshire Motors’ prospects on aftersales for the remainder of 2021, he said: “We’re definitely going to be busy. Hyundai and Isuzu, along with Honda and Mitsubishi aftersales, means that our aftersales team will be working with four brands and a lot of technology.

“We’ve always based our business on a pyramid shaped model with aftersales performance, and overhead absorption in particular, as the base.

“I think absorption is going to be even more important in the future too, so to be able to add Hyundai and Isuzu into an already strong area of the business is really exciting and gives us a lot of opportunity to work with”.

Devonshire Motors delivered 97% (2019: 117%) overhead absorption and 3.6% return on sales (2019: 3.6%) in 2020.

Devonshire Motors is a previous winner of the AM Awards’ Best Dealership (2018), Best Aftersales Performance (2018), Excellence in Customer Service (2016) and Mitsubishi Motors in the UK dealer of the year five times.

It was also the top-ranked business in the AM Best UK Dealerships To Work For employee satisfaction survey 2019.

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