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AM News Show: Steven Eagell Group CEO's focus to recruit ‘better than me’

Steven Eagell Group chief executive Steven Eagell has told AM how his role in the AM100 car retail business is to ensure it recruits “better than me” so it has the skill set to succeed.

Six years on from an AM dealer profile feature in which Eagell revealed that he had grown the business successfully after putting a “dream team” in place beneath him, he reasserted the role of recruitment and retention in the Toyota and Lexus franchisees continued prosperity.

“My role is to recruit people that are better than me” Eagell told AM News and features editor Tom Sharpe during the latest episode of the AM News Show podcast.

“The guys that are on the ground, those are the ones that run the businesses and that’s what’s really important to us. But they’re not only good and knowledgeable at what they do, but are also part of the team.”

Steven Eagell Group has grown its car retail operations from 11 to 32 Toyota and Lexus dealerships since it was last profiled by AM in 2016.

In his AM News podcast interview Eagell gave an insight into a year that has seen it scoop nine awards from its OEM partners and the AM Awards’ Franchised Dealership of the Year accolade with its Lexus Cambridge operation.

Eagell also discussed the challenges of the transition to electric vehicles (EV), new car supply shortages and its strategy for further growth following its recent Inchcape Oxford Toyota dealership acquisition.

“It makes sense for us to continue to grow as and when the opportunity arises” Eagell revealed, but he said that any growth outside the Toyota and Lexus brands would be very carefully considered.

He said: “Going forward would we expand with other brands? We’d never say no to anything but first of all it would have to be with the blessing of Toyota Lexus and secondly it would have to be a meaningful relationship.

“We’re not really interested in two of this and three of that because in that case you just tend to be doing half a job two or three times.

“Hats off to people that do it well, but we have just tended to focus on what we do best and what we know.”

Among the other subjects covered in this episode of the AM News Show podcast are:

  • The EV transition: a different mindset and way of dealing with customers
  • Supply challenges: delivering on customer expectations
  • Dealing with soaring energy bills and a cost-of-living crisis
  • Driving retention to leverage vehicle and customer lifetime value

To view other episodes from the AM News show podcast series, click here.

The latest AM industry special issue

The complexity of running a modern dealership can be misunderstood easily by people looking in on our industry.

Any general manager has so many plates to spin, and they must foster a talented team that they can rely on to not just do the basics well, but to sprinkle some magic on top that customers can notice.

If the marketplace in 2023 is steadily returning to relative normality, this normality now includes the drive to find customers for an increasing supply of electric vehicles, and the need to source used cars from all channels and market them carefully. And of course there are the desires to delight consumers with an omnichannel experience and to hold on to decent margins after a couple of years of strong profitability.

The expectations of both the customer and the business’s stakeholder must be achieved to the optimum level.

In this special digital publication, industry experts, prominent suppliers and franchised dealers share their insights on the major aspects required in running a modern dealership well.

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