Devonshire Motors has invested over £750,000 in a refurbishment project to maximise its dealership space following the introduction of new franchise partners Hyundai and Isuzu.
But owner Nathan Tomlinson has told AM that changes to its showroom and workshops will be accompanied by a new digital retail offering and improved employee development as part of a wider overall plan to ensure that the business can "adapt and thrive" in the coming years.
Alterations to the premises, which got underway last month, include a full internal refit with Hyundai’s latest corporate identity (CI), a new showroom area for Isuzu, a new multi-brand service reception to accommodate four vehicle manufacturers and new EV charging facilities.
A second phase will follow in 2022 which will see the workshop facilities updated, Tomlinson said.
- Tomlinson was part of the panel in a recent AM webinar revealing the key to efficient aftersales provision. He was joined by fellow retailers from Chorley Group, Eden Motor Group and Mitchell Motor Group.
“The facilities upgrade is necessary, and something we’d originally budgeted to do with Mitsubishi,” Tomlinson told AM.
“It’s probably going to attract some attention based on the amount we’re spending, but some investment in premises is long overdue and the reality is it’s just one stage of what we believe is necessary to transition successfully into a very different future.
“We were a Mitsubishi dealership for 30 years, winning multiple awards and setting benchmarks along the way.
“A lot has changed in the last 24 months and we’re making a strong commitment now to our new brand partners and a new future.
“It’s absolutely clear that as we move to cleaner mobility, and if we’re going to operate at or above our previous levels, then we’re going to need to invest in a strategy that takes the best of what we are today, retaining all the qualities that make our business a local hero operation, and blending that with solutions to the many challenges that automotive and retailing in general is now facing.”
DM Excellence Academy
Devonshire Motors’ new brand partners and upgraded facilities should help to ensure the business is able to retain the best local talent, according to Tomlinson.
Next year, however, its employee offering will be further enhanced with the launch of the DM Excellence Academy.
The new training platform will aim to provide an internal training pathway which will help people to thrive both in and out of the business.
Tomlinson said the Academy will also be “training skills that are rarely taught in either conventional education or by external training”.
A new group website has also been designed and will aim to strike a balance between physical and digital is best executed.
Tomlinson said: “Our facility upgrade, the digital upgrade, and our DM Excellence academy will be underpinned by a pay structure that aims to break tradition in terms of providing a strong base and showing the value we place on genuine adaptable skills.
“There is a clear future-focused talent shortage across the board in the automotive sector and we’re at a point where I think we need to take some strong action to ensure that we’re capable of providing the assistance that consumers need as they move tentatively from ICE to EV.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in our service departments where we’re running out of time to encourage the change in skills that are necessary to provide quality technical support for vehicles with revolutionary powertrains and advanced driver assistance systems.”