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AM Awards winner: Best Dealer Group (up to 10 sites), Waylands Automotive

Waylands Automotive CEO John  O’Hanlon (centre) receives the  award from Simon Whicher, sales director, Cooper Solutions, part of PIB motor trade practice group

Waylands Automotive is a young business, but 2021 marked the second time it has won the AM Awards 2021’s Best Dealer Group (up to 10 sites) award since its formation at the end of 2017.

How has it achieved this? Group finance director James Smullen explains in his entry: “The mantra followed is ‘ Waylands is not a business, but a cause. We’re large enough to invest, small enough to care.

Staff are encouraged to work for the good of the company as well as customer. There is a genuine focus on family, respect and values.

“Customers who visit a Waylands’ business should truly feel the difference.”

The belief is paying dividends for the seven-site business.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thames Valley group achieved a 4% increase in revenues in 2020 and a 150% improvement in pre-tax profits.

The business, which has the Volvo, Kia and (from August) the MG new car franchises, has the controls and processes of a larger organisation, but its size allows an entrepreneurial approach from each of its seven dealerships.

Independent and family-owned, the directors get to know each member of staff by name and try to be approachable at all times, with the benefit the business can react quickly to challenges, such as those presented by the pandemic in 2020.

So, despite its size, Waylands pledged a furlough top-up from 80% to 90% of normal wages throughout the pandemic, all returned to work staff were provided guarantees on earnings, plus a welfare fund was established providing interest-free loans to colleagues in financial difficulties.

2020 also saw the group redevelop its website with GForces and Santander, with online used vehicle purchase and online vehicle reservation its cornerstones.

Web enquiries in 2020 were up 182% year-on-year, live chat enquiries 125% and website visits in Q4 up 146%.

Throughout the challenges, attention to detail is maintained in weekly working capital meetings and monthly performance reviews.

Run at each site with managers and directors, forecasting meetings and calls with the finance director ensure the business has high standards financially as well as customer experience.

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