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notice there’s a bit WELCOME. You’ll of a theme to this month’s
magazine. Yes, after months of talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it and dreaming about it, the Conference & Expo finally took place at Silverstone – and we have a series of comprehensive reports on all that took place on a pretty busy day. I know you’ll all be getting out your violins for us, but for the Car Dealer team, it was just about the busiest time imaginable. But what a day! Andy Entwistle may be the worst car dealer in the world – don’t believe me, just look at his record in Trading Up – but the event had him running around for weeks like a bunny rabbit on heat, and what a job he did. It was the biggest event of its type ever held in the UK – and he’s already talking about next year’s event being even bigger. Good job the bloke’s got no hair, because if he did, it’d all be grey by now. Now I normally get on well with Joel Combes of Lawgistics, but I could have throttled him when he told the suits here that the Expo was over all too quickly, and why didn’t we run it over two days? Thanks, Joel. One day killed us. Now you’ve given them the idea of doubling our workload. Boy, with friends like him… Of course, while we did all the work, Baggott grabbed the glory. He put on his best suit and tie – okay, his ONLY suit and tie – to take to the stage to talk a lot, and to host Q&A sessions with manufacturers and dealers. He’s no Jeremy Paxman – more Jeremy Kyle, to be honest. Or Jeremy Beadle (remember him?). And while we were running about all day, Baggott chatted to a few celebs, played pool, ate a lot, played pool, drank a lot of free coffee, played pool, wandered around the expo grabbing all the freebies he could, played pool, and looked closely at the cool cars racing around the Silverstone track. And did we mention he played some pool? We hope you enjoyed the event. If you couldn’t be there – and where were you?? – we hope you find the pages
interesting and thought provoking. And make a note of the date – Tuesday, May 24, 2016, when we’ll do it all again. Yes, Joel, just the ONE day. For now… And who knows, Baggott may be able to pot a pool ball by then... UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERIES Some features are really easy to write. The words just flow. But others are a bit more of a challenge. And one of this month’s was trickier than most. I met those nice people at CAP and Glass’s to try to find out how residual values work. Blimey, it’s complicated. I’m just a poor little hack, and when spreadsheets and graphs showing cash values and supply and demand start getting thrown about, my eyes glaze over and my brain starts to hurt... I’ve got to say, CAP and Glass’s were very gentle with me, and we’ve tried to unravel some of the mysteries. Hope you read it and take it all in. Next month I’ll test you all with a few questions... HURRY UP, IT’LL SOON BE CHRISTMAS... Right, autumn’s nearly here (what do you mean, you haven’t even had your summer holiday yet?) and then you know what that means... yup, the Used Car Awards. It’s on November 30. And if you don’t enter, you can’t win. Details appear on Page 27. Don’t leave your entry to the last minute. Get it in soon, and sort out your table for the best Christmas party there is. I’ll see you there. I’m just not inviting Joel Combes... As ever, I hope you enjoy the pages that follow. If you think we’ve missed something, or you have a story worth telling, email me at email@example.com or tweet me @colinchannon
Colin Channon, editor
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INSIDE. ISSUE 89 I AUGUST 2015
Dashboard Feedback The electric cars debate
Used Car Awards Ask HPI
#CDX15: What a day!
Around the world Big Mike
The Car Dealer Conference and Automotive Expo invaded SIlverstone on June 9 – and made it a day to remember.
Trading Up Finance
Features The Kingmakers
Who’s to blame for the death of the British Motor Show?
We put your questions to Auto Trader CEO Trevor Mather
Fancy shelling out £48k for armour-plated security?
Toyota Auris Mazda CX-3
Bangernomics – if you’re brave enough, it makes very good sense. Big Mike
Forecourt Hyundai Tucson SsangYong Tivoli
33 Data File Car Dealer Club The Statistics Taking Stock Buyers’ Guide Real Deals Auctions Market Insight
Suppliers’ Guide with Litton Key Notes with Traka Long-termers Can CX-3 hit the sweet spot for Mazda in the same way that CX-5 did?
06 14 27 29 30 33 34 36
76 78 80 82
94 96 98 99 100 102 105 106 108 111 114
OUR EVENTS... As voted for by dealers, the Car Dealer Power Awards are unique. For full coverage of this year’s event, call 023 9252 2434 to get hold of a copy of the results issue.
The Car Dealer Used Car Awards, sponsored by Black Horse, celebrate the used car industry. To find out how to get involved this year, turn to page 27.
This year’s event, on June 9 at Silverstone, was a huge success. Full coverage appears from pages 40-69 in this issue – and find out about our plans for 2016 on page 21. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 05
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Can RAC Cars beat Auto Half a million cars by the end of the year. That’s what RAC Cars hope will be the case as they pass the 200k mark. That would make the site bigger than Auto Trader in terms of volume of cars. What do you think? Can they do it? Should Auto Trader be worried? Let me know. James Baggott I think AT should be worried – not just from the likes of the RAC but from the backlash from the dealers who for years have seen the prices that we pay for advertising go up well above the rate of inflation. I spoke to one dealer the other day whose AT bill was now nearly £6,000 per month. Phil H To my mind, the problem that the RAC faces is not one of the volume of cars advertised, but of brand. While I accept that the RAC is a well known ‘household name’, it is not known for advertising cars for sale. While a high number of vehicles listed for sale will undoubtedly help its organic Google rankings, it would need to spend millions on TV advertising over (at least) a three-
Picture of the month June 9 was a big day for the Car Dealer gang. As you probably know by now, it was the date of our conference and automotive expo at Silverstone and we’d all put a huge amount of time and effort into making it a success. Naturally, there was a little bit of letting off steam in the hours that followed, as this photo shows. To find out how we’re getting on with the planning for next year’s event, turn to page 21; and for full coverage of everything that went on at Silverstone last month, turn to pages 40-69. year period to enter the public’s consciousness. Auto Trader’s biggest enemy is itself. countryman If they can communicate the message to the retail customer that AT isn’t the only place to look then, yes, they can be a real threat to AT, but the cost of getting that message out there is massive and is the ‘brand image’ right for the digital market
and the younger user? jimreidvehicle Last week signed up to RAC Cars. My AT bill is £1,200 a month so will be ditching if I get any sales. RH Trading AT ‘losing no sleep over RAC Cars – Page 29 AT’s message to dealers – Pages 22-23
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Trader’s numbers? How to pick a trainee sales exec – what to look for I’m looking to employ a trainee sales executive and I’m after some advice. I’ve put out a couple of adverts and I’ve managed to shortlist a few candidates I’m looking to interview over the next few days. But – having never been interviewed for a job in my career, what should I be asking, or what should I be looking for in an interview? Chris I need to make sure I like staff more than anything else when I interview. I know in five minutes whether they’re right or wrong for my business. James Baggott In reality all you need to know are three things: Will the candidate be able to do the
job, will they enjoy it (ie do they want to do it) and most importantly, will they fit in with the culture of your organisation. A positive answer to all three and you have a winner. Wessexboy I always ask them how good they are at Solitaire. If the answer is ‘very good’ then you know when they’re left alone that’s all they’ll be doing on the computer. Phil H Good manners, respectful, good timekeeper, organised with an awesome positive attitude who is still willing to learn! That’s the person you need! jimreidvehicle
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Top tweets Karen has been with our Doncaster dealership for 15 years now! Perrys @perrysmotors Ullswater Road Garage in Penrith becomes the 65th MG sales dealership in the UK. @MGmotor Long train journey from Bristol to #Durham for the opening of our #Ford dealership, great investment by the Group. Robert Forrester @vertumotors Two pigeons were flying over a car dealership and one said, ‘Why don’t we put a deposit on that Mercedes?’ Koala Swanston @swanston_robert The purr of an Alfa Romeo engine is the sweetest soundtrack of all. Alfa Romeo UK @AlfaRomeoUK
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Work starts on £7m dealership PERRYS has started work on a new £7 million dealership in Preston. Construction has begun on a state-of-theart dealership in Bluebell Way, next to the M6, which will display more than 300 Vauxhall, Mazda and Kia cars. The plan is for the showroom to be open for business in April next year, and it is expected to create an additional 21 jobs. All 91 staff at the current dealership will maintain their roles. Perrys Preston’s current development will ultimately be redeveloped.
It’s a record year – and now a new sports car is on the way Kia’s UK chief outlines plans – and they could include a roadster
ia dealers can look back on the past few years of record growth – with no sign of the success story wilting. That’s the message from Kia Motors UK’s president and chief executive Paul Philpott, who met Car Dealer to celebrate record sales in the first half of 2015.
Retailer joins Renault-Dacia AN INDEPENDENT familyrun car retailer has opened the UK’s newest Renault and Dacia franchise in the West Midlands. Savilles Garage in Mustow Green, Kidderminster, had traded as a Skoda dealership. But managing director Patrick Sword, who runs the business with his father Jim, applied to become Renault and Dacia’s newest franchise partner.
by COLIN CHANNON @colinchannon
And to underline the success, he revealed: l Record profits for dealers. l Record sales, with the aim of selling 80,000 cars for the first time in a calendar year. l The opening of a new showroom on the busiest stretch of road in Europe. l A new Kia sports car to be on sale within the next four years. The Korean manufacturer is on target for a record year, with more than 42,000 vehicles sold so far in 2015. Philpott personally would love Kia to introduce something sporty to the market – and his wish is set to become a reality. ‘Our dream is to have a dedicated sports car – what that looks like and when it comes is still not strictly defined,’ he said. ‘But the brand is
Profits up for motor group THE family-owned and run motor group, Swansway, recorded a £6.2 million profit before tax in 2014 – up 20 per cent on 2013. Turnover last year was up 18 per cent to £436.1 million. At £7.8 million, the group’s operating profit was up 17 per cent on the previous year and the 2014 results continue the year-on-year trend of rising profitability for the company. 08 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Paul Philpott: record
WE HAVE PRODUCED CONCEPT SPORTS CARS IN THE PAST AND THEY HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY WELL RECEIVED
now ready for a sports car. We have produced concept sports cars in the past and they have been extremely well received.’ Kia wants to sell 100,000 vehicles a year in the UK by the end of the decade, and Philpott hopes the sports car will be in showrooms in time to help achieve that milestone. ‘We are talking about producing a dedicated sports car, not a sporty version of a present model,’ he said. ‘A roadster? Well, that’s one option. But it will still be a Kia.’ He said dealers were having a good year. ‘By the end of the year we’ll end up with 186 or 187 dealerships. We’ll have a new flagship dealership on the Great West Road by the A4-M4 corridor, and one at Enfield, which is filling two long-term open points for us. We still have nine open points to fill, and some of them are really challenging – Wandsworth and Stratford and Slough – and don’t ask me why, but Chester is proving difficult to fill.’ The Great West site has been bought by Kia, but will be sub-let to a dealership. ‘It will be over four storeys – the service centre will be underground in the basement, the showroom will be at ground level, the first floor will be for premium used cars, and we will take the top floor, at M4 level, as a brand showcase. It’s a great place to launch new products. It’s next to VW, Mercedes and Audi, which are already there, which says something about the ambition for our brand. ‘Last year saw a record profit for the dealer network. The average profit for each of our dealers was £148,000, which was a record gross profit.’
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It’s all systems go – a new breed of TVRs on course to hit the showroom British sports car manufacturer unveils plans for four models over the next 10 years
ndependent British sports car manufacturer TVR has announced its newest range of cars will be released in 2017, following the company’s change of ownership in June 2013. In what will be the 70th anniversary year of the brand’s founding, the first of four new Cosworth V8 powered TVRs will go on sale, with the remaining three to follow over the next decade. Enthusiasts are queuing to put a deposit down to secure one of the new models, which are being made in limited numbers, with production being ramped up for future runs. Potential buyers will be able to put down £5,000 to begin with, despite knowing very little about the car itself. Members who have been with the TVR Car Club for more than six months will have to deposit only £2,500 to
by LAURA THOMSON email@example.com
secure one of these cars as their own. The reborn company promises to produce an ‘all-new British designed and built sports car’ under the leadership of British businessman Les Edgar, with input from Gordon Murray, who is know for his Formula One and McLaren design work.
WE ARE LOOKING FOR DEALERS WHO HAVE A STRONG FOCUS ON THEIR LOCAL AREA
Explaining his engine and design choices, Edgar says: ‘We know a new TVR has to be better than just good – it has to be outstanding. ‘From the outset we wanted to work with only the best partners in the business, and both Gordon Murray’s and Cosworth’s track records within motor sport and high-performance car design and engineering speak for themselves.’ Many of the 50-plus cars produced by TVR over their 68-year history are revered among lightweight British sports cars. Martin Slade, parts manager for TVR Parts UK at Racing Green TVR, Surrey, commented on the possibility of TVR repeating its success. ‘We’re all very excited about the new TVRs,’ he said. ‘They are pushing all the right buttons and making all the right noises – production speaking – so I don’t see why it couldn’t be a modern icon.’
TOP FIVE TVRs
TVR Grantura Series 1
TVR Tasmin 280i
TVR Tuscan Speed Six
1958 - 1967
1978 - 1979
1980 – 1987
2002 – 2007
2004 – 2007
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£1.5m of stock on new platform CARTOTRADE.COM, the new online trade-to-trade platform set up by the original management team of Autotrade-mail, saw stock worth £1.5 million advertised within its first fortnight of trading. Co-founder Laura Cannon said: ‘It’s been really nice to see prime retail stock coming on to the platform, from a Fiat 500 convertible to a choice of Mini Countrymans.’ The online B2B trade arena is heating up with lots of new businesses bringing their offering to the table.
Award for head of finance firm MARK SMITH, chairman and founder of The Car Finance Company, has won the London and South EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015. The awards ceremony took place at the Tate Modern in London. Smith said: ‘I am very honoured to receive such a prestigious award. It is a real and lasting achievement that highlights the great work everyone at The Car Finance Company is doing.’
New partnership really is cricket! A BARNSLEY Mitsubishi dealership has struck up a winning partnership with Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Harratts Mitsubishi, in Huddersfield Road, Darton, has become a new partner for the world-famous club in a deal that has seen it donate two vehicles, a Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and a Shogun 4×4, for the next 12 months. 12 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
More than 45,000 visitors for Mercedes pop-up shop A MERCEDES-Benz Retail Group pop-up shop in the Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, attracted more than 45,000 visitors during its fiveweek stay. Opened in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central, Mercedes-Benz Solihull and Mercedes-Benz Tamworth, it
generated a total of 479 sales leads. The brand’s in-store offering of Mercedes-Benz accessories, clothing and merchandise also proved highly popular, with sales exceeding £19,000. The pop-up shop displayed a striking array of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including the new MercedesAMG GT super car.
Adam McCullagh, general manager for Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central, said: ‘We are delighted with the results achieved through our pop-up shop. The experience has been a fantastic opportunity to meet customers and our thanks go out to everyone involved in making the store a success.’
£3.5m investment and 30 new jobs at huge new Audi outlet Company is currently investing more than £6.5 million across Scotland
ookers Audi has officially unveiled its new Audi Approved used-car showroom and aftersales service centre in Hamilton, Glasgow. A major investment of £3.5 million by the company has resulted in the provision of at least 30 new jobs in what is now one of the largest Audi Approved sites in Europe. Officially opened by Audi UK brand director André Konsbruck, the giant 6.5-acre site showcases more than 120 Audi Approved used cars with storage facilities for an additional 450 vehicles. The service centre has 10 fully-functional bays and there are immediate plans to double this capacity. Formerly known as Lomond Audi, leading UK car retailer Lookers plc acquired the Glasgow-based group in 2012. Lookers Audi is currently investing more than £6.5 million in its facilities and staff across Scotland, which
Steve Dean with Nigel McMinn includes a full upgrade and extension of its Stirling base following the purchase of a neighbouring 1.5-acre site. An additional 1.5 acres has also been acquired which will be used to extend and enhance the Edinburgh Audi facility. The new Audi Approved facility in Hamilton is now one of the first fullysustainable and environmentallyfriendly sites in the UK and Ireland and includes new, state-of-theart biomass heating and water purification systems. The event was attended by the senior leadership team from Audi
UK, led by Konsbruck, as well as the senior management team from Lookers plc, including chief executive Andy Bruce, managing director Nigel McMinn and Steve Dean, managing director at Lookers Audi. Dean said: ‘The Audi brand has seen phenomenal growth in Scotland in the past few years which we, at Lookers Audi, are committed to supporting. ‘Our existing facilities already established across the country have been complemented greatly by this exciting new facility and prove beyond doubt the commitment we have to expanding our customer base. ‘This latest expansion provides yet another convenient location for the provision of our quality sales and aftersales service and it is a great achievement for Lookers and for Audi UK that we can proudly claim to have one of the largest Audi Approved showrooms in Europe.’
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Are electric cars really Electric cars are the future – or so we keep getting told – but here at Car Dealer we’re not convinced. James Baggott and Colin Channon ‘politely’ discuss the subject... James Baggott: Hailed as the solution to our fossil fuel dependant habits, electric cars are here to stay. As we put this issue to press, Nissan has just announced it has sold 10,000 Leafs in the UK which is quite some landmark, but the thing is I’m still not entirely convinced. That said, this month the Pikes Peak hillclimb was won by an electric car – beating combustion engines in competition for the first time – which by any standards is quite some achievement, you have to admit Col? Colin Channon: Leafs? What do you mean, Leafs? Didn’t you ever go to school, Baggott? The plural is ‘leaves’… so it’ll be Nissan Leaves. But nope, not convinced. Yeah, the car looks fancy. And it drove at an average speed of 79mph (whoopie do). Looks good – but of little use. Bit like a managing director I know…. JB: Sorry, I lost you there for a minute, I was Googling ‘P45’. But I digress. What I do think we could agree on, which I know is about as likely as Russia and Ukraine shaking hands over a cream tea, is the fact we need an alternative to combustion engines. But with limited ranges, rapid chargers at service stations and supermarkets usually occupied by diesel-powered taxis and
I BOUGHT THE GOOD LADY WIFE A MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV, AND TO BE HONEST, IT’S BLEEDING BRILLIANT
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shopping trolleys and most EVs sporting looks only a mother could love, I honestly think hybrids are the only answer. You know what one of those is, right?
think it’s the best of both worlds. And you tried the BMW i8 we had in recently, didn’t you? You can’t deny that was brilliant, even if you did need a booster seat to see over the wheel...
CC: Yup. A hybrid is a golf club that fits the gap nicely between long irons and fairway woods (if the editor of Golf Monthly is reading this, I might need a job soon….). I’m with you on an alternative to fuel – but I’m not sure about some hybrids, either. I was chatting to a dealer the other day (you know, real work, not sitting in front of TWO computer screens trying to look busy, sharpening pencils all day and flicking elastic bands) who said some hybrids just don’t cut it – that as soon as the car hits 10mph, the electric motor peters out, and the petrol engine takes over. That’s not proper use of batteries. But I don’t fancy having a car that needs charging after every trip to the local shops. But you actually bought an electric car, didn’t you? Are they any good?
CC: The Car Dealer cushion came in very handy – that steering wheel was VERY high… But yes, the i8 was great. Loved the flashy gullwing doors, even if for a man of my age, getting in and out was a bit of a struggle. But it’s £100,000 plus. I’d have to save up for … oooh, 3,000 years on the pittance you pay me to even stump up the deposit. If hybrid and electric really is the future, why do we have to pay through the nose to get something that’s even remotely nice to drive? And how many people face a six-mile round trip to work? If we are to take electric and hybrids as seriously as the government wants us to, why aren’t there more charging points to make ownership easy? Sorry, but I’m a petrol kind of guy. No fuel like an old fuel, I suppose.
JB: I bought the good lady wife a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and to be honest, it’s bleeding brilliant. For her, anyway. She works three miles away from home, plugs it in every time she parks on the drive, and never uses fuel. She’s done more than 4,000 miles now and we’ve used just five tanks of fuel (and it’s just a 40-litre tank). When she goes further afield the petrol engine kicks in. It can do 70mph on full electric mode and has a range of 30 miles. I honestly
the future? And what about those hybrids that don’t have an electric motor to speak of. That’s taking the micky, isn’t it? JB: For a man of your age, getting in and out of your trousers must be a struggle... Anyway, I sort of agree with you. I know, shock. But I think not only do we need more charging points, we need electric cars that can actually travel 250 miles on a charge. And I’m not talking £90k Teslas, but affordable family hatchbacks like the Leaf with big ranges. Until such a point when ‘range anxiety’ is no longer a problem, EVs will always be simply an alternative, not a solution. Bigger ranges, quicker charging times and at a price that doesn’t come at a premium over combustion engines. In my opinion, that’s what we need to really super charge (see what I did there?) electric car sales. So, here’s a question for you: what would make you buy an electric car, CC? CC: Ageism: stereotyping and
So which of these is the best bet for the future? discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of age. You are protected from age discrimination, or ageism, in all aspects of your employment… ooh, sorry, cut and pasted from my solicitor’s letter by mistake there. I’ve driven a couple of concept electric cars and, to coin an extremely technical phrase, they were pants. They looked daft on the outside, and inside it was all blue lights and basic controls, and a warning that if you wanted the hi-tech mod-cons (radio, lights on at night, wipers on if it rained, that kind of thing, luxury extras) then they’ll
reduce the range. To about 300 yards. If I were to have one, it’d need good range (and I HATE to agree with you on anything), price and looks. I don’t think there should be any price difference between normal fuel, electric or hybrid. So I want a good price, looks and stamina. Like a girl I once knew… JB: So basically we’ve come to the conclusion that we want a car that is easy to fill up in a few minutes whenever we want, can drive pretty much wherever we want to when we want to, looks like a car, drives like a car, doesn’t have any trinkets to mark it out as different and is cheap to run. I’ve come to the conclusion that’s a Ford Focus diesel. Glad we sorted that one out. [CD]
FOR A MAN OF YOUR AGE, GETTING IN AND OUT OF YOUR TROUSERS MUST BE A STRUGGLE
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匀䔀䄀䴀䰀䔀匀匀䰀夀 䰀䤀一䬀䔀䐀 吀伀䜀䔀吀䠀䔀刀
圀攀戀猀椀琀攀 䐀攀猀椀最渀 戀礀 䐀爀愀最漀渀㈀ 夀漀甀爀 䐀䴀匀 爀攀挀攀椀瘀攀猀 匀愀氀攀猀 䔀渀焀甀椀爀椀攀猀 愀渀搀 匀攀爀瘀椀挀攀 䈀漀漀欀椀渀最猀 猀琀爀愀椀最栀琀 昀爀漀洀 礀漀甀爀 眀攀戀猀椀琀攀⸀ 唀瀀搀愀琀攀 礀漀甀爀 眀攀戀猀椀琀攀 猀琀漀挀欀 椀渀猀琀愀渀琀氀礀 昀爀漀洀 礀漀甀爀 䐀䴀匀⸀
16 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Lookers put their heart into charity challenges bit.ly/charity89
Nissan dealers are in a ‘happy place’ Sales chief says two-way dialogue is paying off
issan believes having a proper manufacturerdealer relationship is paying dividends across its UK network. Sales director Tony Lewis was in a bubbly mood when we met over breakfast at a swanky London hotel. In between the full English and a cup of strong tea – while we, of course, as media luvvies, settled for orange juice and muesli – Lewis underlined the Nissan successes. ‘I think our dealers are in a happy place at the moment,’ he said. ‘We are simplifying a lot of the ways we do things to make things easier and removing complexities, and we are talking to them about the key issues to get things from their perspective, things like volume and customer satisfaction.
by COLIN CHANNON @colinchannon
‘Our dealers are doing well. There are always a small percentage of loss makers in any franchise network, but the percentage in our network has reduced considerably – it’s now close to five per cent, when it was higher than that previously. ‘That’s very strong, but we have sold a lot of cars – we have put a lot of focus on our retail business and we have tried to avoid the tactical performances that some others do to try to achieve their objectives. ‘We are communicating better with dealers and now it’s much more two-way – we recently had a webinar with all the directors, we’ve just had our National Dealers’
Association meeting, we’re just about to have our campaign launch meeting... in all those meetings we are open and honest. ‘There are always one or two things that need to be sorted, but the level of issues has certainly declined. People are busy selling cars and making a profit. ‘We have been rolling out a new retail concept – 18 dealers completed it last year, there should be another 57 this year. ‘In many areas they are building brand-new facilities. In the dealer network, there is significant investment going into the Nissan brand – they’re building
outstanding facilities. It’s bringing a new level of service to customers, many of whom may be new to the brand. ‘We are now heading for 170,000 cars. A lot of people invested in Nissan when we were 60,000 and 70,000. ‘More and more people do their work online now, but showrooms are still important to us. We need to be ready for a click-and-collect element of sales, but when you go and collect your car, you want it to be somewhere welcoming, that offers great service – and where are you going to take it to have it serviced?’
THE MOTOR TRADE SPECIALIST A-LY’S RTHUR DN
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Who killed the British Motor Show? Nigel Wonnacott, the former head of communications at the SMMT, which organised the British Motor Show, looks at the history of the event – and why it ended in failure...
PANTOMIME VILLAINS DON’T COME MUCH BETTER THAN ZE PESKY GERMANS 18 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
lans are under way to breathe life into the corpse of the British Motor Show, an event last held in 2008 at London’s ExCeL centre. Organisers have singled out Battersea Park in May, and we’re told that car makers are behind the project. But, a year out from the event, are the wheels already coming off? Comments by show patron Prince Michael of Kent last month led to swift clarification from manufacturers. It seemed that behind the sparkle and the hype, very few have signed on the dotted line to attend. Those of us who worked on the last few motor shows will not have been surprised. After a lengthy illness, the official British Motor Show died in 2008. And dead it is likely to remain. Car makers have moved on and there’s no appetite to revive a long-departed, motorised parrot. So who was to blame for where we are today? The official line Most commentators point to the manufacturers. And for pantomime villains, they don’t come much better than ze pesky Germans. BMW, Mercedes, VW, Audi and Porsche were all absentees at various shows between 2002 and 2008: shame on them all, said Autocar last month. Then there was the recession. After a threewheeled 2008 event, organiser SMMT took it into the garden, gave it an opportunistic whack with a spade, blamed the economy and put everyone out of their misery. Case closed. But wait. Is that the whole story? Here m’lud, we present five more suspects in the complicated case of the British Motor Show’s demise: Friendly fire Blaming the Germans is fun, but it’s not really fair. Having violently uncoupled from its Munich parent, it was actually Britain’s MG Rover that struck a big Longbridge nail into the show’s coffin. New owners took steps to rid themselves of involvement at their home show in 2000 and went public to boot. Full-page ads in national press lambasted costs, and said the focus for budgets would be in product development. The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Today, there’s no finer venue for the annual festival of dog eugenics. But for senior execs planning international car launches, the NEC’s merits were hard to grasp. A sprawling stump on the outskirts of Birmingham with neither the charm of Paris nor the mountains of Geneva; the corridors of power were hardly ringing to calls to launch new metal there. The move to London’s ExCeL in 2006 didn’t please everyone, but it was inevitable. The rotten deal The venue itself wasn’t the real NEC crime. After a bumper show in 1998, SMMT signed an
The Geneva Motor Show has a lake and mountains as a backdrop. The NEC had... err...
Goodwood Festival of Speed has excitement and pizzazz. It’s a motor show in all but name ill-conceived three-show deal, taking a one-sided partnership into 2000, 2002 and 2004. With hands tied, stand space soared while attendance figures plummeted. Mercedes invoked a brutal cost-benefit analysis; every lead generated cost the company hundreds of pounds. Exhibiting at the NEC no longer made business sense. The media In 2006 there was hope. BMW were back and there were even some proper world debuts. But while the sun shone in London, not everyone was happy. New show organiser IMIE (International Motor Industry Events) adopted a European wheeze to bring more pizzazz to the event: selling golden press-day passes. The motoring media mobilised. Support for the show took a back seat, to be replaced by moral outrage. The great unwashed? Drinking their free champagne and eating the complimentary vol-au-vents? A disgrace. The punters More than 700,000 visitors came to the show in 1998. But by 2004 this had fallen by more than 300,000. It wasn’t just car makers who were bored with the whole thing. We were too. Visitors weren’t
willing to stand behind a barrier, gawping at shiny cars on carpets, many of which they could see in the car park for free. This is the end So there you have it. Neither the Germans nor the recession were entirely to blame. The sad truth is that we were all complicit, although some more so than others. But is that the end? Not at all. For while the British Motor Show was heading towards the buffers, something cool was happening on the south coast. And in the best traditions of British creativity, it turned a tired, traditional format on its head. Step forward the Festival of Speed, full of energy, with sights, sounds and smells to stir the blood of every petrol head. It fell to a charming English gentleman to take up the mantle, turning a sweeping, stately driveway into a world-famous hill climb. And creating a playground for some of the most glamorous metal on wheels, piloted by the world’s most famous drivers. Car makers moved in and so did punters. Today, the British Motor Show is dead in name alone; but its spiritual successor is alive and kicking in Goodwood. Battersea doesn’t stand a chance. [CD]
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 19
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DASHBOARD. WHAT YOU THINK
We’re listening to make it better OUR good friends at Fourmative (fourmative. com) compiled some instant feedback from the event. The data showed delegates enjoyed themselves and found it hugely stimulating and valuable. Dealers were encouraged to leave comments, and here’s a selection – and our answers...
Dews Motor Group offering outof-hours email support service bit.ly/dewsmg89
CDX countdown begins – and it’ll be even bigger n The 2016 event will be on Tuesday, May 24, again at Silverstone n An even bigger expo, with more space and more stands n More rooms available for dealer and manufacturer meetings
Choose your seminar topics a little more carefully next time. We’re reviewing the topics for the next event, to ensure there’s no duplication. Really interesting content in the workshops. Needs to be more space at lunch ... but overall a great event! We’re looking at the layout of the event next time. So many people turned up that at times we were a bit squashed in! The acoustics in the workshop weren’t good – it was really difficult to hear what the speakers were saying. We agree – the workshops on the mezzanine floors above the expo were tricky to hear. We won’t put workshops there again. Great coffee, good venue and an opportunity to meet up with existing clients. You’re right, the coffee was great!! More facilities for the disabled, including signs for the lifts. We’re looking again at the whole signage issue. Next time, rest assured we’ll have a lot more of them. Everyone leaves early. Plan for people leaving at 3pm. We’re going to revise the timetable. You’re right – people came from all over the country, and wanted to get away so they weren’t fighting the rush-hour traffic on the way home. We’ll make sure the timetable is a bit tighter and better organised next time.
by COLIN CHANNON @colinchannon
ing the date in your diary: Tuesday, May 24, 2016. That’s when we’ll be staging the next Car Dealer Conference and Expo at Silverstone. This year’s event was more successful than we could ever have believed, with more than 1,500 delegates turning up. And we have learned a lot from that one, so the next CDX – that’s the flashy new name for the event – will be bigger and better. In what way? Let chief organiser and bottle washer Andy Entwistle explain: ‘We shouldn’t under-estimate what the industry achieved – it was the biggest event of its type ever held in the UK. ‘But we learned a lot while we were putting it on, and from talking to people on the day. ‘The expo next year will be bigger. We’re going to look at how we utilised the space at Silverstone and make better use of it. We’re not going to have a main hall for speakers like we did this time – that space will be used for a bigger expo. We turned people away this year who were desperate to have a stand because we didn’t have
room for them, and we don’t want to disappoint anyone in 2016. ‘We also plan to make more use of some of the meeting rooms. This year, several manufacturers and dealer groups were given a room so they could have meetings through the day. ‘That was so popular, and so beneficial, that we will do more next time. It’s an opportunity for manufacturers to meet their dealers, and for the big franchises to get some of their dealerships together under one roof. ‘The idea of having a room to base themselves in through the day, hold group meetings, and then pop out to attend workshops and visit the expo, is proving popular. ‘I would ask anyone who would like to take a room to contact me as soon as possible. May 24 may sound a long way off, but people are already contacting me to make their requests. ‘We’re also speaking to some
manufacturers who would like to use the event to showcase some of their newer models. We like the idea of that.’ And what about speakers? Well, there’s some news there... ‘We had some keynote speakers this time, but we’re rethinking that for next time,’ he said. ‘I’d like to have big headline speakers – we’re already discussing a few names. A case of watch this space...’ And the workshops? ‘They’ll continue,’ says Andy. ‘We’ll still have the workshops through the day – they went down very well. But we’ll look at the topics and see how we can make them better. We’re Car Dealer – we don’t like standing still, we’re always looking to improve. We’ll listen to the feedback and make things as good as we can next time.’ Coverage of this year’s event starts on page 40 CarDealerMag.co.uk | 21
DASHBOARD. INTERVIEW Dealers haven’t been slow to tell us what they dislike about Auto Trader. So we sent COLIN CHANNON to chat to their boss, and find out what they’re doing about it...
Q&A We posted on the Car Dealer forum that we were meeting Auto Trader, and asked you to submit any questions you wanted answered. So here you are… Can Auto Trader not see the flaws in the Retail Checker product? They don’t understand how small differences in specification can affect the value of a vehicle. We think our valuations are the most accurate out there. We recognise they’re a guide and there some things we are trying to improve all the time, and sometimes we expect dealers to put their gut feeling on top of that. But if they don’t want it, they don’t have to have it. We’re not forcing it on them. It’s a product they are welcome to take if they think it’s useful, and if they don’t, they don’t have to have it. What we are hearing, though, is you have to put some 22 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
real effort into how you think about repricing your cars every day, and how you present your cars every day. If you’re prepared to do that, it works – more people come to your site, and if that happens, you’ll sell more cars. If you’re not prepared to work with it, don’t buy it. Down here in the real world, at the pointy end, we buy, sell and fix cars. What is your knowledge and experience in the retail motor trade? We are a digital media business, and we have hundreds of years of experience in those kinds of businesses. We also have automotive experts in the business – we have more experts in the business than you’ll ever find on a single forecourt in the UK. We listen to all our customers and the knowledge we gain from what they want, and how they want to improve,
is probably the best you can get. We are trying to evolve that. The automotive industry is lagging behind a lot of other industries in the way they think about responding to the change in consumer need. An open letter was written to AT on the Car Dealer forum. I know you saw it, so why did nobody in a senior position have the decency to publicly respond to any of the points? We have tried pretty damned hard to speak to that particular dealer, to call him and to try to respond, but he refuses to talk to us. If someone doesn’t want to talk to us, and just post a lot of information, I don’t know what else to do. Why do you persist in ignoring dealers’ complaints? Are you now only interested in keeping your shareholders happy?
We haven’t always got it right. But we’re trying... W
e know we haven’t always got it right with dealers – but we’re doing our best. That was the message from Auto Trader CEO Trevor Mather, who says they are listening to more dealers to try to tailor a service that works for everyone. He said the priority in the past year has been to provide a ‘cleaner and more trusted marketplace’ – and that the efforts are paying off. He says: ‘We have a team of 15 people or so who spend all their time, 24 hours a day, making sure the marketplace is clear of misleading adverts, making sure our security is as good as it can be in today’s phishing and scamming world, and we have automated a lot of our processes. ‘We have improved our search, we have more filters and it is quicker and consumers like it more. We want to drive fewer searches and more inspections, as it means consumers get to the cars they are looking for much quicker. ‘This year we have driven an extra seven per cent full-page ads. To put that into some kind of context, in every second of every day, there are 85 vehicles being inspected on the marketplace in detail, which is why we have such a strong response for retailers. ‘We did 2.7 billion full-page advert views last year, which is difficult to get your head around. ‘As well as the make and model search, we have opened it up for people who don’t know what make and model they want, so we have
I’d be disappointed if that was the view of the entire marketplace. There’s no change in the way we think – we want to do the best for our customers, as any business would. Nobody in the company thinks about shareholders as the primary focus. First and foremost, we think how can we make sure consumers have an easier process to buy vehicles. We are genuinely trying to listen to more retailers to make sure they get a better deal. How much did each of you make personally from the flotation of Auto Trader? That’s going to be a ‘no comment’, I’m afraid. Why does the dealer portal leave certain fields of information entered by the dealer – such as fundamental information like the number of owners – out of the actual online advert?
AT’S FUTURE PROPOSALS ‘We are looking at Dealer Ratings, and allowing consumers to rate their experiences with dealers – and, importantly, allowing dealers time to sort any problems as part of the process. If someone is complaining or upset, dealers can solve that problem. The rating would still appear, but the dealer has the opportunity to fix it so both appear at the same time – a case of ‘I had a problem but it’s fixed’. But more and more, consumers are demanding they are able to see ratings on dealers. They are looking at social media already, so we feel it’s important to put it on a one-stop shop, and a dealer has the opportunity to make sure it’s right for them.’
launched a discovery search. We have launched free valuations for consumers, and we are now doing more than a million every month, to add to the 2.5 million we do for the trade every month. We are establishing ourselves as the default valuation provider in the industry. ‘We have launched a new set of Auto Trader packages and have such a wealth of products. ‘We have transformed our display offering for dealers and manufacturers. Seventy per cent of the consumers who visit our marketplace are intending to buy a car in the next three months,
We encourage dealers to include extra information – such as extra spec – which is important as it can justify the price of the vehicle. We want them to include the number of owners – it can be included. If there’s a problem, we’d ask the dealer to get in touch with us, and we’ll sort it out. With issues of hacking and spam emails, why can’t AT allow leads to go straight into CRM systems for a quicker, cleaner process? We are investing in a secure portal where the leads will go, which dealers can access. There are so many back-end CRM systems, how would we prioritise? Why have prices at AT increased year on year above the rate of inflation? We monitor the value we provide. Some of the
and more than one third of consumers are open to buying a new car. ‘And towards the end of the year, we went public. It’s good for the company and allows us to plan things a lot longer into the future, and focus on the business. The main message about going public is that there isn’t going to be any change in the way we operate our business or our strategy. ‘We want to continually improve everything we do, in terms of the products we build and how we service our customers and consumers. ‘We are really trying to improve our service levels to customers. ‘One of the frustrations many of our customers had, particularly the independent customers, was they struggled to get through to us, and when they did, their problems were not being solved quickly enough. Now we have a single call centre, calls are answered within 20 seconds and issues are generally resolved within 24 hours. We are getting comments from customers who say this feels really different, which is a good thing. We still have a lot of focus on that to make it right. ‘We have a series of discovery days every month when we invite people to our offices and we talk about what we are trying to build, and get feedback about how they feel. Car dealers are not shy in telling us what they feel is right or wrong, and in general they may come in annoyed about something, but they leave feeling as though we are trying to listen and trying to get better.’
increase dealers have faced is because they have bought more product. I think if people have kept the same level of product, the price has remained roughly the same – the price of the stock product has hardly changed in the past three years, while the packages on top of it have. AT teaming up with Trusted Dealers shows how little interest they have in smaller independent garages. We are really trying to make sure there’s a balance in the market. We are starting dealer reviews and they will be available only for the independents, because they need to get more trusted. We are doing a lot for the independents – and we want to do more. It’s important to make the marketplace as good as it can be for consumers and that independents get a fair shout, because they don’t get a fair shout physically. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 23
VW Group signs UK’s largest ever DMS dealer-supplier deal Long-term agreement after VWG found they wanted more flexibility
olkswagen Group UK (VWG) and CDK Global, the world’s largest provider of integrated IT and digital marketing to the automotive retail industry, have signed the largest ever DMS (dealer management system) dealer-supplier agreement ever seen in the UK. Pilot sites will run the new CDK system from the end of this year to mid-2016, and following a successful pilot the rollout will then start to the group’s 700-plus UK dealerships. The landmark partnership will see Volkswagen Group UK recommend CORE Drive, CDK Global’s fullyintegrated DMS, to every dealership
24 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
across its Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Audi, Seat and Skoda dealer networks. The long-term agreement comes after VWG reviewed its DMS provision and identified the need for greater flexibility within a universal software solution. CDK’s DMS allows bespoke customer intelligence to be utilised by individual brands across dealer networks, improving customer relations and enhancing longer-term loyalty. Trevor Metcalfe, group network development director at VWG, said: ‘We undertook a full strategic review to determine what our retail network requires in today’s
dynamic retail environment by involving expertise from eight of our major retailer partner-investors. ‘Happy and loyal customers are at the core of all our UK brands. We are confident that CORE Drive will provide dealers with the insights and solutions they require to deliver a seamless customer experience, from both a sales and after-sales perspective.’ Neil Packham, vice-president and managing director for CDK Global’s UK region, pictured, said: ‘UK dealerships trust CDK Global to help them understand the unique requirements of every potential car buyer. Dealers are keen to collaborate with us as they know our innovative solutions fit and move with current industry needs.’ Focus on CDK, pages 88-89
Enfield set for Kia dealership BRAYLEYS is expanding its north London operations with a sevenfigure investment in the construction of a new Kia dealership in Enfield. Having operated the Honda franchise on Great Cambridge Road for more than six years, following the purchase of the business from Alan Day in 2009, Brayleys acquired the freehold on the adjacent site in 2014 and secured planning permission to build an eight-car showroom and workshop. Brayley Kia in Enfield will be the second Kia franchise for Brayleys, following the launch of its first one in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, in 2012. It is scheduled to open in October with the creation of up to 20 new jobs.
CitNOW Video Award winners announced bit.ly/videoawards89
Grand effort for this year’s historic event All 50 places have been snapped up in record time
e said this year’s Bangers4BEN was going to be quite an occasion. And it seems you all agree – all 50 places have been snapped up in record time. In October, 50 teams will take their old bangers for a spin around Silverstone, then across the Channel to sample the former grand prix tracks at Reims-Gueux, the Nurburgring and Spa Francorchamps. Last year, with 40 cars, all the places were taken by August. This time, June had hardly showed its face when the last of the places were taken. Kelly Neal of BEN said: ‘It has been incredible. I was at an awards do the other night and the buzz surrounding Bangers4BEN was quite something. ‘Some of them had been before and were looking forward to this one, while others are taking part for the first time and were
asking what it was like. They can’t wait. And I saw a couple of people who told me they were sorry but they had been a bit slow in getting their entry forms to me, but that they were on their way, and I had to tell them they were too late. ‘It’s great that this year we have some new names joining us, as well as teams from previous years. ‘I think the opportunity to drive on grand prix tracks has been just too good to turn down – it’s a really exciting itinerary. We have already started a reserve list, which is really healthy for us.’ We’re hoping to raise more than £50,000 for BEN from this year’s event. On the right is a list of the entries. The eagle-eyed will notice there are not 50 names there – but some have multiple entries and are listed only once.
A perfectly normal sight for a Bangers4BEN event...!
ALL THE ENTRIES Aston Barclay Blackball Media Blackshaws Caralot Ltd Caroline’s Cars Cirencester Suzuki CitNOW Codeweavers Danes Autos Ltd David Graham Vehicle Repairs David Harrison Ltd Derek Fiske Organisation Pure Triumph (Cambria Automobiles plc) G Forces (Perfect Placement) Geoff Cox Ford JK Automotive
Lawgistics Ltd Manheim Marshall Motor Group Moneybarn Paintseal Europe Ltd Pinewood Technologies Prestige Diesels RMIF RTF Networks Spidersnet Sportif Group St Leonards Motor Company Templar Cars Time Tees Cars Wilding Motors Winkleigh Car Sales Your Best Car Ltd
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 25
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DASHBOARD. USED CAR AWARDS
How do I enter? IT couldn’t be easier! We’ve made sure it’s as simple and straightforward as possible and you can do it in one of two ways. But by far the easiest way to enter the awards is online. Log on to carawards. co.uk and fill in the online nomination form – and it’s great if you’ve decided to enter a number of categories. Please give as much detail on why you should win, as it really helps when it comes to creating the shortlists. Make that nomination form really sing! Shortlists for each category will be drawn up by our panel of judges which will be chaired by Mike Brewer. The winner and two highly-commended places will be invited to our gala awards night. And if last year is anything to go by, the winners will be going home with a very special award indeed. The other way to enter is to use the form which was delivered free with Car Dealer magazine a couple of months ago. Haven’t got it any more? Used it to wrap up that fish-and-chip supper? Then email editor Colin Channon at colin@blackballmedia. co.uk and he’ll put one in the post to you.
To enter the Used Car Awards for 2015, go to carawards.co.uk
Don’t miss the biggest, loudest party of the year
here’s no bigger prize to win than a Car Dealer Used Car Award. And don’t take our word for it – speak to our winners! Nick Donald is a director at Caralot, the Derbyshire supermarket which clinched the 2014 award for the best dealership with more than 100 cars. The firm is no stranger to awards, and has picked up a fair few in the past few months. But Donald says gongs in the industry don’t come any bigger than those presented at the Car Dealer Used Car Awards. ‘For us, winning was massive – probably the best thing that happened to us all last year,’ he said. ‘Of all the awards we could win, this was the big one. It was staggering for us. ‘To know we won after such a robust judging process – and that the difference between us and others was the mystery shop – was fantastic. It proved to us that our rigorous
processes were working. ‘The Used Car Awards are the biggest in the industry. We love Car Dealer magazine – it’s a publication that likes a bit of fun, and doesn’t get wrapped up in red tape like some other publications. It works in the same way as we like to work – we like fun, and we’re not pushy. ‘Winning last year was great. We’ve now got our sights on a couple of awards this year – that would be huge for us.’ We are now taking entries for the 2015 Used Car Awards, which will be held on November 30 at The Brewery in London. Car Dealer magazine editor Colin Channon said: ‘It’s going to be a great night. I was talking to a dealer the other day who was desperate to buy two tables for his staff, and was badgering me to put two aside in case
we got a summer rush on tickets! ‘He knew, like Nick Donald, that it’s THE big night in the used-car dealer’s calendar. Nick’s right – awards don’t come any bigger. Dealers are proud when they go up on stage to pick up an award, and they are never slow in telling the world afterwards that they’re a winner. They know that picking up a Used Car Award says everything about them as a business. I’d encourage as many dealers as possible to enter the 2015 awards. The signs are that it is going to be even harder this year to win an award – so going up on that stage with Mike Brewer will mean your business really is the best of the best. ‘And let’s be honest – apart from the awards, it’s the best Christmas party out there. And everyone knows how much Car Dealer magazine likes to have a good time!’
ALL THE CATEGORIES Used Car Dealership of the Year (Under 50 vehicles)
Used Car Dealer group of the Year
Dealership Newcomer of the Year
Lifetime Achievement Award
Manufacturer Used Car Scheme
Used Car Dealership of the Year (50-100 vehicles)
Dealers’ Dealer of the Year
Best Used Car Customer Care
Dealer Used Car Website of the Year
Used Car of the Year
Used Car Dealership of the Year (Over 100 vehicles)
Used Car Sales Team of the Year
Used Car Product of the Year
Social Media User of the Year
Used Car Supermarket of the Year
Used Car Dealer Principal of the Year
Outstanding Achievement of the Year
Service & Repair Outlet of the Year
Best Performing Used Car of the Year – Residual Value Best Performing Used Car of the Year – Days To Sell CarDealerMag.co.uk | 27
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JLR expands overseas – but says UK remains at its core. bit.ly/JLR89
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How can we ensure we have not bought a clone?
We are not losing any sleep over the new RAC Cars site Auto Trader takes robust stance on rival listings service
uto Trader’s chief says he is not losing any sleep over the emergence of RAC Cars into his domain. RAC Cars has insisted it is on target to have more than half a million cars on its new listing service by the end of the year, and passed the 200,000 milestone within 55 days of launching its free service. But Auto Trader’s CEO Trevor Mather says while the RAC’s emergence is interesting, he doesn’t see it affecting Auto Trader in any significant way. ‘The RAC has been in the market a long time, and is a brand people think about when they break down on a motorway – not particularly when you’re looking at buying or selling a car,’ he said. ‘Why wouldn’t retailers put their stock on a free marketplace as long as it’s no hassle to do? ‘But the feedback we have got from people who have tried it is they are not getting any response. ‘It’s a real challenge in today’s consumer world to establish yourself as a brand for doing something specific. ‘If you are the RAC, are you going to invest brand and marketing money to drive that, or are you going to spend it on your core business? ‘There’s a risk to doing this – they could spend a lot of money on advertising, but not get any audience. ‘And if there is no audience, people who
put their cars on the site will go away again. ‘They want to get to 500,000 vehicles by the end of the year and be bigger than Auto Trader, and all those kind of things. ‘It’s very hard to get to those kind of numbers. What we have learned is it’s not that difficult to get to 200,000 or 250,000, but it’s really hard to get to 400,000 and 450,000. ‘We have a salesforce of 350 people, and a team of 30, 40 people who do nothing but make sure the search experience is as good and clean as possible, and as accurate as possible. ‘We are clearly worried if anyone comes into the marketplace and does something that disrupts and does something different, and that consumers like and get attracted to. ‘But the share and the number of visits we get are either being maintained or are growing, which means the others – and there are lots of them – are fighting for the rest of the pie. ‘We are always watching the market to see what happens and if any good ones come along we will work out how we beat them, but if we can keep our share that’s the most important thing for us. Instead of having a number two in the market appear, you just have loads and loads of number 10s. ‘I’m not losing any sleep over RAC Cars now, and I didn’t when it was announced.’
n industry friend recently bought a car which turned out to be a ringer. He says he did everything he should when he bought it, but he has still had the car taken away by the police. He’s well out of pocket. Is there anything we can do to make sure we don’t end up with a cloned car? Contrary to popular belief, cloning cars is just a prevalent as it always has been. Criminals are getting more informed and clones are getting harder to spot. Most cloned cars are those acquired by opportunists – people don’t tend to clone to order. In most cases the following happens: The car is stolen with the keys. Then they will find an identical car, often through classified ads and will then use this identity to transfer to the car, along with a stolen V5. A new clone vehicle is born. There are a few important checks any dealer or consumer should perform before purchasing a used vehicle. This can minimise the risk of getting stuck with a clone. 1 Look at the physical vehicle. Often the spec of the actual car can be different than the car specified on the V5 – for example, the vehicle is an SE when it should be a Sport. HPI Spec Check can also help you. 2 Always check the VIN. Criminals are lazy, so check the VIN in at least two places, for example in the door recess and the engine compartment. 3 Are the plates new? If so, ask why. 4 Thoroughly check the paperwork. This can often throw up a few hints. Does the car have a service history? If not, why not? Does the mileage match the National Mileage Register (NMR)? 5 Is the MOT certificate a copy? If yes, ask why. Overall, many cloned cars will flag up discrepancies. Each of these checks on their own isn’t necessarily a problem, but when a few present themselves together, alarm bells should be ringing. If buying from a trader, ensure they are bona fide and check them out properly. If it’s from a consumer, never buy a vehicle from anyone not named on the V5 – and don’t be afraid to ask for proof of ID, which always should match the address on the V5. Is the car cheap? We all like a deal but people know the value of their cars. Anything more than 20 per cent below market should be checked thoroughly. The saying ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ often applies. Finally, never pay cash for a car. Pay into their bank so you can trace the purchase – and make sure the account is in the same name as on the V5 document. With more than 75 years’ experience of dealing with fraud, we’re confident that if you follow this advice, you won’t end up with a clone. If you are a HPI customer, you also have the added benefit of clone cover if you have a warranty.
‘Never pay cash for a car. Pay into their bank so you can trace the purchase.’
Who are HPI?
HPI are the experts in provenance and vehicle data. Every month they will be helping answer questions from you relating to finance, write-offs or car scams. If you have a problem and need some help email us at HPI@blackballmedia.co.uk and we’ll do the rest CarDealerMag.co.uk | 29
Around the world Dealer news from somewhere other than here
Car sales in Russia are forecast to drop by 24 per cent this year, following a 10 per cent decline in 2014, as the economic crisis there worsens. New car and LCV sales are set to decline to 1.89 million from 2.49 million last year, according to the Association of European Businesses. Lada, Russia’s best-selling brand, saw sales decline by 15 per cent in 2014.
Car dealers in the USA are on track to sell the most cars, trucks and crossovers in at least a decade. According to the Autodata Corporation, sales were up 4.4 per cent to 8.52 million for the first six months of 2015, compared to the same period a year ago. Last year, 16.52 million cars and trucks were sold in the USA. Dealers last topped the 17 million mark in 2001.
As part of its retail strategy, BMW Group South Africa is transforming the future of its dealerships by introducing a comprehensive programme called Future Retail across all BMW and Mini dealerships over the next two years. In doing so, BMW aims to increase the number of potential customer contact points and enhance its retail experience.
Hyundai is set to release more SUVs into the Chinese market to regain momentum in the country. South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Corporation has said it has begun construction on a new plant in Chongqing, China, to help drive sales in the world’s largest automotive market. A new compact car is on the cards as well as increased production of SUVs. Hyundai, together with its sibling Kia Motors, ranks fifth in the league of global vehicle sales.
Ford dealers are reporting an increased waiting time for the new Mustang, which is now expected to arrive in June 2016. Last month, the brand reported more than 2,000 Mustang customers had paid their deposits so far, including one customer who ordered six. The V8 is proving the more popular of the two models.
www.desperateseller.co.uk | www.facebook.com/desperateseller.co.uk | twitter.com/despseller
30 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
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CarDealerMag.co.uk | 31
“Kay looks after calls when our team is busy. The result? More sales, outstanding service levels.” Moneypenny client since 2013
Kay, Moneypenny Receptionist
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TELEPHONE ANSWERING 32 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
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All Big Mike’s columns are on our website. Enjoy them here bit.ly/bigmike
‘Bangernomics’ can make perfect sense if you’re feeling brave
’ve been in this this game for long enough to believe I can realistically value any car, be it fifty grand’s worth of Range Rover (and I ask anyone, why would you, when you can get a lovely old Jag for three grand?), or a £295 px bargain to clear (you’ll sell anything for that, even if it smells of cat’s pee and fag ash). But, just recently, I’ve been wrong on a couple of occasions, and the theme seems to be with cars built in the early 1990s. To me, and to most people, I suspect, these are old bangers that, if you’re lucky, have got a bit of life left in them. You pick them up for the standard £295 px to clear price, which effectively buys you until their next MoT, after which you put them in for the test and if it costs less than the £295 px to clear price to fix, you carry on for another year, or as long as you’ve got before some catastrophic component failure that puts the kybosh on keeping the thing going. Bangernomics – if you’re brave enough, it makes very good sense. I had a perfect candidate for Bangernomical motoring through my hands the other week. Chopped in against a 2008 Vauxhall Corsa 1.0, which probably felt as space age as the Starship Enterprise by comparison despite being one of the dullest cars I’ve ever had the misfortune to resell, I took in a little Rover Metro ‘Nightfire’ special edition, in that gorgeous pearlescent metallic red colour that Rover used to use to disguise the fact the cars underneath were a bit pants. The old dear had owned the Metro since 1998, when it was five years old, but had finally accepted it was time to get something with power steering. It may be as exciting as a dishwasher, but the little Vauxhall is, at least, really easy to drive. Even if you drive badly. The Metro was a very tidy little thing – 39,000 miles on the clock from new, and of those, the first 20,000 had been covered by the original owner. I’ve had a lot of Metros through the books in my time in the trade, and this one was almost unique in that it came with all its own wheelarches, made out of metal, matched in colour and not a patch of bog, gloop or filler anywhere. I genuinely thought they left the factory like that, but apparently not… The service book was stamped by the same garage all the way through – originally a local MG Rover main dealer, then Chevrolet main dealer after that, and most recently the local MG Motor dealer again proving that a) they’d had a bit of crap luck choosing a franchise over the years and b)
Big Mike OUR MAN ON THE INSIDE SPILLS THE BEANS ON THE CAR BUSINESS...
these things come full circle. I digress. Underneath the usual detritus of pensioner ownership – a faux leather steering wheel cover, beaded seat thingies, plastic door reflectors and the mandatory mismatched hubcap – was a car that was in quite good nick, so rather than punt it out at £295 px to clear, I got my apprentice, Jason, to give it a once over, source the correct wheeltrim from hubcap mountain (we have a stash that have been taken off many a mismatched car over the years) and apply some elbow grease, polish and a bottle of ‘Retail Detail’ to the plastic bits (baby oil). I decided to try my hand at £695. Okay, so that’s normally the kind of margin I look for on a more expensive
‘Who’d want a clunky old Metro with no power steering?’ motor, but for what it was, I reckoned that was quite expensive. After all, in today’s world of connectivity, supersafety and low emissions, who’d want a clunky old Metro with no power steering and a four-speed box? Quite a lot of people, as it turns out. And most of them below the age of 30. I kid you not, the humble Rover Metro has become a cult car. The PlayStation Generation (and yes, I know we’ve moved on a bit since then, but I’m talking those in their late 20s/early 30, not the yoof of today) have very fond memories of such cars, be it being dropped off at school in one as a kid, or perhaps canoodling with a first love in the back of one a few years later (after all, that gas suspension did make a Metro very comfortable…) Whichever way, I can tell you that within an hour of the Metro going up on my website, I’d had three phone calls. The first to respond was, I’m led to believe, what’s known as a ‘hipster’. Not, as I thought, a type of underwear, but a slightly nerdy (but apparently cool because of it) young bloke with a light beard and thick-rimmed spectacles, a T-shirt that looked like it had been painted on to his bony torso and rolled-up jeans. He didn’t even haggle, and in the way that people of his generation tend to do, he paid me there and then. With his phone. It’s a funny old world.
Who is Big Mike?
Well, that would be telling. What we do know is he’s had more than 30 years in the car trade and picked up some incredible tales along the way. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 33
I’ll realise my dream of a supercar...
STORY SO FAR...
...and I don’t mean a Ford Focus diesel! Our resident car dealer Andy Entwistle tells Colin Channon about his charity plans
CC: I hate to be nice to you, as it goes against the grain. But if this buying and selling used cars game were easy, every dealer in the country would be a millionaire, wouldn’t they? AE: They always say ‘how do you make a small fortune in the automotive industry? Start with a large one...’ I’ve been around and about the industry for 25 years now, and I like to think I have an idea what’s going on. I’ve bought and sold hundreds of cars, but this has been more of a challenge than I expected. CC: So come on, Arfur Daley, why is this year so hard? AE: Baggott did this a couple of years ago. But he cheated. He called up all his manufacturer mates and got them to give him cars. I said I would beat him. At the moment I’m a long way behind, so this has become a personal issue. But in my defence, I have been fitting it
around the day job, and the past 12 months have been very busy. I’ve moved house and we’ve had awards and CDX, and I’ve not been able to give it as much attention as I’d have liked. I think it has proved that dealers have a really hard job on their hands. And we’ve been unlucky with a couple of our purchases. If I’m honest, where I have been so busy I haven’t been as prudent as I should have been, and I’ve made a couple of rash purchases which have bitten us badly. Our pot was looking quite healthy and these would have wiped us out, if it wasn’t for help from our friends at Auto Protect and Unicom. In this industry, buying cars is key – selling them is the easy bit, and I’ve learned that to my cost. CC: So how much longer will you be buying and selling? What’s the goal? AE: The plan is to keep going and trading up until we get a supercar. We wanted to do it inside 18 months, and although that deadline is almost
here, we’re not giving up. That’s not the Car Dealer way. We’ll keep going until we get that high-performance car. CC: How can the industry help? AE: In the early days, Jim Reid, bless him, did us a really good deal on a RAV-4 he had taken in partexchange, gave it to us for a song, and we made a really good profit. Dealers can help – please contact me (email@example.com). If you have taken something in part-ex and want to help a great charity, give me a call. The stuff you wouldn’t normally retail, because it’s high mileage or not your normal stock profile – we’ll always give you a shout out and give you recognition if you can help us. I’m a private individual so I can’t ask trade prices, I’m selling them at retail prices, so my profit is already reduced. Dealers, auction houses – they can all help. I need good stock at good prices. CC: It’s going to be busy 12 months – there’s the Used Car Awards, Power awards, an even bigger CDX conference and expo. You’re going to be busy. So does that mean your ‘supercar’ will end up being a Ford Focus diesel...? AE: It’ll be a cold day in hell when my interpretation of a supercar is a Ford Focus diesel... We may have to temper it, but I’m still determined to get something sexy. It may be a £20,000 car and not a £30,000 car, and it may be a bit older than I’d like – but we’ll get there. If we end up handing over £10,000 or £20,000 to the hospital, that would be great...
Renault Clio Paid: £1,600 Spent: £400 Sold: £2,250
Suzuki Vitara Paid: £1,500 Spent: £300 Sold: £1,950 Toyota Rav4 Paid: £2,000 Spent: £200 Sold: £3,000 Mazda MX5 Paid: £1,500 Spent: £200 Sold: £1,900 Jaguar XJS Paid: £2,200 Spent: £0 Sold: £2,600
Audi A6 Allroad Paid: £2,250 Spent: £500 Sold: £2,650
• Motor Trade Road Risks 34 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
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CarDealerMag.co.uk | 35
‘Considerable concern’ over shake-up of VED system But full implications will start to become apparent only after more number crunching over the coming weeks
George Osborne’s Budget ‘supports the ongoing economic recovery in general terms,’ says Rupert Pontin, left, of Glass’s
new vehicle excise duty (VED) banding system for cars registered on or after April 1, 2017 has been announced. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne revealed the move in his Budget at the start of July. However, the new rates will not apply in the first year after registration. There will be special first-year rates linked to a car’s carbon emissions, with zero, standard and premium rates. A flat standard rate of £140 will apply to all cars for subsequent years, except those emitting 0g/km of CO2, for which the standard rate will be £0. Cars, including zero-emission cars, with a list price above £40,000, will be subject to a £310-per-year supplement for the first five years after which the standard rate is paid. Osborne said the ‘standard’ charge of £140 would cover 95 per cent of all cars. Understand all that? Put simply, the first year of vehicle tax will be based on these 13 emissions bands, with each band paying a different rate of tax. Cars which produce between 1 and 50g/km of CO2 will face a £10 bill in year one, before the £140 annual charge kicks in. The black sheep of the car parc with emissions of more than 255g/km will pay a hefty £2,000. That’s year one. In the second year of ownership, cars are split into three categories – Zero Emissions, Standard and Premium. Only cars that emit 0g/
36 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
km of CO2 will be exempt from tax, while all other cars will pay £140 a year. Cars that cost more than £40,000 will pay a £310 premium on top of this in years two to six of ownership. The payment will then revert to £140 from year seven of a car’s life. Mike Hawes, the SMMT chief executive, said: ‘We recognise the current VED system needs to be reformed and highlighted this in a recent report. ‘The Chancellor’s Budget announcement on the regime came as a surprise and is of considerable concern. While we are pleased zeroemission cars will, on the whole, remain exempt from VED, the new regime will disincentivise take-up of low-emission vehicles. ‘New technologies such as plug-in hybrid, the fastest-growing ultra-low emission vehicle segment, will not benefit from long-term VED incentive, threatening the ability of the UK and the UK automotive sector to meet ever-stricter CO2 targets.
‘The introduction of a surcharge on premium cars also risks undermining growth in UK manufacturing and exports. ‘British-built premium cars are in increasing demand at home and globally, and the industry helps to support almost 800,000 jobs in the UK. Levelling a punitive tax on these vehicles will almost certainly impact domestic demand.’ Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s, said: ‘The reform of the VED system is very interesting and its full implications will start to become apparent as we crunch more numbers over the next few days and weeks. ‘The good news first – it is a really simple-to-understand system for the vast majority of people. There are some parts that look a little more questionable, however. ‘Looking at the Budget as a whole, we think it supports the ongoing economic recovery in general terms and this is good news for the motor industry.’
How dealers could attract more finance business CAR retailers could drive more customers to their showrooms if car finance options were better presented on their websites. That’s the message from Auto Trader, whose experts have recently looked at online buying behaviour, the proportion of cars bought on finance and the number of dealers currently displaying finance offers online. Paul Harrison, Auto Trader’s head of motor finance, explained: ‘The upsurge in PCP agreements in both the new and used car finance markets is making the list price of cars increasingly irrelevant. ‘With 77 per cent of consumer new cars and around 25 per cent of consumer used cars currently sold on dealer finance, monthly payments have become the benchmark information for consumers on affordability. ‘Yet we also know from Auto Trader research that only 15 per cent of dealer websites currently present finance options, albeit 45 per cent say they intend to do so. Given how consumer behaviour is changing, open and transparent information on car finance will offer dealers a real competitive advantage and ensure consumers properly consider dealer finance versus alternative sources.’ Auto Trader buyer behaviour research underlines this message. Latest data shows that 86 per cent of consumers carry out their research after 6pm when showroom doors are closed.
..in association with
Take a look at your site from the point of view of your customers A
fter visiting London recently I got all pumped up from seeing the big lights, big buildings and big advertising everywhere. This made me take action in a few areas. One of the key areas I wanted to focus on was dealers capturing more finance leads via point-of-sale material. Our point-of-sale merchandise is one of our most requested assistance tools. However, even though we are sending thousands of pieces out every month to our motor dealer partners, most dealers will not know what is available to them, why we have the specific messages on them, or what process has gone into producing this merchandise. Over the past few years we’ve made a lot of changes
‘This month alone we have added three products to our portfolio...’ to the point-of-sale material we give out, and also on the advice we give to dealers when they want to produce their own. So let’s start with the specific messages. Why did we add the lines ‘ask for more info’ or ‘ask inside’ to our point-of-sale material? It was derived following research we had conducted. The findings were that customers didn’t ask motor dealers about, or ask for, finance products. This meant that dealers were not maximising the potential of their site, as they were not asking the customers if they wanted or needed finance either. Since implementing these messages the feedback we have had from dealers has been really positive with most
Garside TIME IS MONEY
getting a steady number of customers asking for finance. I must add that by placing finance messages around the pitch I believe that some motor dealers may have also started asking customers if they want to know about the finance options available, as it is a constant reminder. So why do we have so many products? Dealers we had spoken to previously believed visitors may not have been aware they had finance products available to them, so they left the forecourt without speaking to any staff at all. This meant we needed to figure out how to get finance messages in the consumer’s view. With the mass range of dealer types we deal with – from small single-man outfits to large dealer groups – we needed to think about placement, how many points of contact were needed. We also needed to make sure we
Turn over page for more finance stories didn’t make any of the dealerships look cluttered. We set about reviewing what we had already and what we needed to add to fulfil as many options as possible so we completely revitalised all our products so they had consistent messages and colours and were all consumerfocused. This month alone we have recently added three additional products to our portfolio and have two more products in the pipeline for next month. So what should you do if you want to capture finance leads from your visitors? Take a good look at your site from your customers’ point of view and purchase new signage or point-of-sale material to fit the requirements. Or you could just call us. We’d love to help.
Who is Ben Garside? Ben is marketing manager for First Response Finance. Call him on 07817 518739 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 37
FINANCE. YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO... SPORTS CARS LOTUS EXIGE S ROADSTER
PORSCHE BOXSTER S WITH a top speed of 173mph and a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds, the Porsche Boxster S is a stylish mid-range sports car that has the performance to match its looks. Porsche are currently offering the Boxster S with a customer deposit of £10,200. The dealer deposit contribution of £1,500 takes the total deposit to £11,700, leaving the buyer with 35 monthly repayments of £481.43. When the repayment plan comes to an end, the customer will be offered the chance to purchase the vehicle outright with a single payment of £26,294.35 (plus the option-to-purchase fee of £95). This will mean the driver will have paid a total of £53,439.40 over three years, compared to the vehicle’s OTR cash price of £48,553.00. These figures are based on a representative APR of 6.9 per cent with interest at 6.59 per cent.
WHILE the 145mph top speed of the Lotus doesn’t match that of the Boxster, the 0–60mph acceleration of 3.8 seconds means the Exige S Roadster would easily beat the German car off the line. Lotus are currently offering the stylish two-seater on a 49-month finance offer with an APR of 6.9 per cent. The customer pays two lump sums during the four-year contract: a deposit of £23,935.50 and a final payment of £20,685. These are separated by the 48 monthly payments of £399.00, amassing to a total cost of £63,772.50 to the owner. This is a £7,322.50 difference to the on-the-road cash price of £56,450. The only ‘hidden’ cost is the £10 acceptance fee, payable with the deposit.
Close Brothers Motor Finance team trek up Ben Nevis for charity ‘There were a lot of tired bodies but it was worth it when you look at the money we raised’
team of eight employees from Close Brothers Motor Finance has successfully completed the demanding Ben Nevis Challenge in aid of the company’s charity partner, Cancer Research UK. Together, they climbed 1,343 metres to the summit of Ben Nevis, before cycling 25 miles and canoeing across Loch Lochy, finishing the challenge in just over 11 hours. The team was aiming to raise £12,000 for Cancer Research UK and through donations and a number of fundraising activities, including a static bike ride covering the distance from York to New York, they were able to hit their target. Team captain Rob Richardson said: ‘Completing the Ben Nevis Challenge has been a fantastic experience. We put a lot of effort into our training, but it was still really hard work and I
38 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
by DAVE BROWN @CarDealerDave think we were all glad to see the finish line by the end. ‘There were a lot of tired bodies but it was worth it when you look at the money we have been able to raise. It has provided vital funds for a very important cause but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support we’ve received. ‘We’d like to thank Trust Ford, who provided a minibus to transport the team to and from the challenge and we’d also like to say thank you to everyone who made a donation – the generosity has been overwhelming.’ The eight employees who took on the challenge came from Close Brothers Motor Finance
branches across the UK and included Adele Heatlie, Sam Harrison and David Grieve, who are based at the company’s head office in Doncaster, Nick Delaney from Sheffield, Rob Richardson from Northampton, Neil Richardson from York, Laura Frak from Swindon and Mareta Davies from Northern Ireland. James Broadhead, CEO of Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘We’re extremely proud of the team who took on the Ben Nevis Challenge. ‘It took a lot of determination and endurance to complete and it has raised a significant sum for a great cause. Cancer Research UK has been our charity partner for just over a year now and in that time we’ve raised almost £40,000.’ Pictured above at the start of the challenge are Adele Heatlie, Mareta Davies, David Grieve and Laura Frak.
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Higher res column advert.pdf 1 12/05/2015 09:45:32
Looking for a Non-prime finance company with a difference?
MERCEDES AMG SLK 55 PERHAPS not as lightweight as the Boxster or the Exige, the Mercedes sits between them both in terms of acceleration – reaching 62mph in 4.6 seconds – and top speed, which is electronically limited to 155mph. Mercedes are offering their standard 7G-Tronic 7-Speed Auto on a 36-month payment plan with a representative APR of 6.3 per cent and fixed interest rate of 6.11 per cent. With a customer deposit as low as £5,995 and a retailer deposit contribution of £9,166.36, the customer is left with three years of monthly payments of £599, plus an optional purchase payment of £24,650. The only fee payable is a £10 purchase fee, bringing the total paid by the customer (including the dealer deposit) to £61,385.36 – a difference of £6,035.36 to the OTR price of £55,350.
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Number of new cars bought on finance up by six per cent year-on-year
Discounts on new cars are going down in size
FIGURES just released by the Finance & Leasing Association show the number of new cars bought on finance provided through dealerships grew six per cent in May, compared with the same month a year earlier. Average advances to consumers for new car purchases were up four per cent in May to £16,500 compared with May 2014. As a result, the percentage of private new car sales financed by FLA members through dealerships reached 77.6 per cent in the 12 months to May 2015, a record high. The point-of-sale consumer used-car finance market also showed continued growth, with new business up eight per cent by value and three per cent by volume in May compared with May 2014. Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: ‘Growth in point-of-sale consumer car finance in 2015 so far has continued in line with expectations. Recent research by Oxford Economics showed the importance of FLA motor finance providers to the UK economy, funding more than 57 per cent of all consumer spending on cars in 2014.’
CMY DISCOUNTS on new cars are shrinking as Britain’s car sales K boom rumbles on, according to What Car? research. Average discounts negotiated by consumers are smaller now than they were 12 months ago – down from a typical markdown of 10.14 to 8.9 per cent. In cash terms, that’s a price increase of £204 across all models. The analysis by Britain’s biggest car buyer’s guide provides the strongest evidence yet that heavy discounting will continue to subside, especially if new car sales remain buoyant. The analysis was carried out by What Car?’s Target Price team, which provides buyers with anticipated discounts available across hundreds of new models up to the end of May 2015. Instead of holding all the aces, consumers could soon be at the mercy of dealers.
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: INTRO
Now we’ve started something special It was on a plane back from NADA in the States that James Baggott, managing director of Blackball Media, and operations director, Andy Entwistle, started to plan #CDX15. Here James reflects on the success of our event
ilverstone: home of the British Grand Prix, a mecca for motorsport fans and now the location for the UK’s biggest motor trade Expo. Standing inside the huge Wing – a dramatic, angular building which houses the Formula 1 garages and pit lane beneath it – on the Sunday before our huge event, it was simply impossible to imagine what was to unfold over the next few days. We’d spent months planning it. We’d painted the picture of our vision in the minds of the suppliers who had pledged their support and promoted the reasons for coming to the 2,000 delegates signed up. But stood in Expo Hall 1, staring at the vast expanse of carpet tiles being segmented into floor space with duct tape, even I couldn’t foresee just how well things were about to turn out. As Seat Leons swapped paint on the race track that hugs the Wing, the Car Dealer team were in prep mode. It was all hands to the pump as we drew out the different stand sizes with tape, lugged screens, tables and stools into place and played with the walkie talkies we’d all been given. Okay, so I did more of the latter, but who is counting how many stools they moved? This year’s Expo had two huge halls designated for stands. Some 75 suppliers were due to arrive the next day to set up in a space roughly equivalent in size to six football pitches. As we shut down the lights on the Sunday evening, I couldn’t wait to see the empty shells we’d created, filled with the colour and excitement of the motor trade. Monday was chaotic. Some exhibitors had employed stage management companies to throw up their huge stands. The GardX space was a hive of activity as a huge team of burly blokes laid flooring and erected the centrepiece of Hall 2. Behind them, the event’s headline sponsors GForces were just as busy installing a bank of screens on a stage. These were West End-levels of production as stagehands emptied flight cases and boxes and hammered their contents into 40 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
shape. I watched as RAC Cars put up a bright ‘I Love Cars’ neon sign, marvelling at the work that went into it. Manheim were installing a festivalsized video wall and sound system that was soon to deafen the Wing, while Supagard were putting together an equally impressive structure and pushing a display car into place. The delivery area needed stage management itself. We had a team in place simply to allocate unloading slots to exhibitors – the rush to get the huge amounts of kit into the exhibition halls had all the dangerous hallmarks of a battle ground, but thankfully we kept a lid on any fireworks. The Blackball Media stand was taking shape too. We’d ordered a pool table for a special competition on the day – potting seven black balls, six of which were over the pockets in the quickest possible time – and had a Top Gear-style leader board to fill up with names. We’d ordered Blackball Media stress balls, which came in handy, and a two-metre-wide inflatable black ball was being filled with helium to float, blimp-like, above our area. Copies of the latest Car Dealer Magazine were liberally strewn across the tables.
he night before the Expo, a select group of dealers had been invited to a special pre-event party. Sponsored by Black Horse, this informal barbecue and drinks evening was a chance for the winners of last year’s Used Car Awards to get together. I chatted to Umesh Samani of Specialist Cars and Alexis from Prestige Diesels, both UCA winners, and caught up with a number of friends of Car Dealer. Everyone was looking forward to the Expo. As the night got more merry, the Car Dealer team snuck away early. Beds were calling and the thought of a 5am start the following day was giving most of the team red eyes just thinking about it. It was coming, judgment day, our chance to prove the event the industry wants can happen – and that we’re the team to do it. I’ve passionately believed for years that the
car industry needs an event of this type. From conversations I’d had with suppliers, I knew the pent-up demand was there and dealers, too, had told me they were fed up with travelling halfway across the world to visit an American conference for the motor industry. All it required was for us to connect the dots. And dot-to-dot we did. Operations director Andy Entwistle and I shaped the Expo – now to be simply known as CDX – on the plane back from NADA in January. Standing in the empty
The start of a glorious day: James Baggott addresses delegates to get the event under way
halls as the sun crept through the windows of the Silverstone Wing, strolling around the most amazing stands suppliers had put no end of passion into, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. This was it. This was the start of something special. Now all we needed were the delegates to swarm through the doors. Keynote speeches – led by yours truly – were due to start at 9am, and we needed bums on seats. I needn’t have worried. I stood behind the Silverstone management,
orchestrating their car park monitors from the vantage point of the hall windows, and we watched as car after car slotted into place outside the garages. They were here. It was beginning. By 9am the main conference room was nicely filling up. The Expo halls were getting busy. I opened proceedings with a speech about how this whole idea came about and then welcomed Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler to the stage. Fowler spoke of the problems he had buying a car for his teenage daughter. He
had visited seven dealers, all of whom offered varying levels of service. ‘It’s not that hard to get it right, but when one salesman spent the entire time chatting up my daughter, I knew it was time to move on,’ he said. He handed the baton over to Ken Ramirez, managing director of Renault-Dacia, who spoke about how the firm launched the budget brand in the UK. He told of the meteoric rise of Dacia in the past two years and how no-nonsense pricing and advertising CarDealerMag.co.uk | 41
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: INTRO had established the manufacturer. He said some of his dealers were now even investing in solus showrooms for Dacia, such was the success of their sales. Finishing our morning’s keynote speakers was Tim Smith, from headline sponsors GForces. He spoke of the digital revolution that is sweeping the car industry and gave fantastic examples of some of his clients who were powering ahead online. He told a wonderful story about Ridgeway’s Lost Bunny, a toy left in a car and found by a valeter, and how the search for its owner on social media reached more than a million people.
The GardX team start building their stand
s the conference hall emptied from the morning’s keynotes, I had some time to walk around the bustling show. By midmorning we’d had an incredible 1,500 delegates through the doors and the Expo halls were a hive of activity. Business was being done, connections being made, friendships reacquainted. There was a real buzz about the halls as the various stands coaxed delegates with games, offers and music. Elsewhere, our various Workshops were getting under way. We’d arranged for 12 companies to hold sessions on a variety of topics, which were repeated in the afternoon. Topics included the latest on finance regulations, understanding digital customers and an insight into the customer journey. I poked my head around the latter and the room was packed with dealers listening intently. Elsewhere, delegates were hearing about lead generation, about how to protect dealerships from insider threats from former security services personnel and the latest on employment law. Many dealers were busy making notes to take back to base. There was a simple theme running through them all, though: Education. These sessions might have been hosted by suppliers, but there was to be categorically no selling allowed. These were sessions designed for dealers to pick up tips to take back and better their businesses. I chatted to delegates as they walked back to the Expo halls and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. ‘This is a day well spent out of the office,’ said one. Another added: ‘I’ve picked up some brilliant ideas to take back to the dealership.’ That’s the Workshops nailed in my book. Back in the Expo halls, it was all smiles. Exhibitors grabbed me as I walked past: ‘This is absolutely brilliant,’ said one very happy paint protection firm boss. I heard one company had signed up 40 new customers by 2pm, and as the day went on more stories emerged along similar lines. By mid-afternoon the celebrities had arrived. There to support the companies they help to promote, they added some glamour 42 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
This is a great event. It’s good to get out and see how the trade works and gets together.
The Car Dealer team plan their working day...
to proceedings. Well, ITV4 presenter Louise Goodman did. She had just finished hosting our special Women In The Motor Industry session which was ‘incredibly lively’ and was impressed with the day. She said: ‘I thought it was very interesting and thought-provoking and it was great to see all the girls getting involved, some quite heatedly at times!’ Back by the GardX stand, I grabbed a word with our Used Car Awards host Mike Brewer. In between posing for pictures with fans, he told me: ‘This event is exactly what the car dealer industry needs. You need somewhere where you can get everyone together and people can see what each other is up to. No dealer has seen anything like this before because it simply didn’t exist! ‘There are many tools out there to help car dealers and it’s great to see them all brought together in one place. This room is packed. There are so many people here and they’ve come from all different parts of the industry. I’ve seen car dealers from the Twittersphere all the way up to John Tordoff from JCT600. That just goes to show
The lull before the storm. Finishing touches before the masses arrive... the reach of this event and how important it is. ‘I’ve never been to an event for car dealers that is as accomplished as this. The keynote speakers are great and once people have looked around the halls they can go off and listen to captains of industry who have some great ideas for them in the workshops. It’s brilliant.’ I strolled with Brewer over to the Blackball Media stand where he tried to beat my time on the pool table. We soon realised we were being eye-balled by another of motoring TV’s greats, Tiff Needell. Needell was at the Expo to support Supagard and wandered over to try to beat Brewer on the baize. He didn’t. He tells me: ‘This is a great event. It’s good to get out and see how the trade works and gets together. I’m giving away a Thruxton driving day here today and we’ve had lots of dealers come up and see me. I think the event is brilliant – it’s very professional and we’ve had lots of business. We’re happy to be here.’ I hot-foot it from Hall 1 to the room where we’re announcing the Top 150 Most Influential
Dealers On Twitter. We’ve got 100 of those on the list packed into the room eagerly waiting to hear where they placed. First there’s a Q&A session with Scott Sinclair, Google UK’s automotive industry manager. He gives some insight into the search business to our exclusive group and reiterates that Google Plus is very much part of the business’s strategy. We’re also lucky to have Georgina Parnell from Twitter UK. She also gives an exclusive presentation to our most influential dealers and then hands out awards to those who topped the list. ‘I am delighted that Twitter can be here to hand out these awards,’ she says. ‘It’s great to see so many dealers so passionate about using the platform.’ Back in the main conference hall I’m due on stage. I’m hosting a Q&A session with four manufacturer bosses, followed by four dealer bosses. Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Volvo top brass take to the stage first and tackle my questions, ranging from how prolific pre-reg is (not very, they say) to topics around electric cars
and digital dealerships. It’s a lively debate and over before I know it. The dealers are less chirpy. I ask the bosses from JCT600, Perrys, Lookers and Ridgeway the same pre-reg question. ‘It’s prolific,’ they tell me. ‘And getting worse.’ The day closes with two brilliant keynote speeches from Google’s Sinclair and Twitter’s Parnell. Their message about the internet is clear – consumers are finding their next car online. If you’re not there, you’re nowhere. As the car park empties and the stands are torn down, Andy and I take stock. The stress on our faces is lifting, the frowns turning to smiles of accomplishment. We exchange stories of happy suppliers and delighted dealers, of being stopped in the walkways for thank-yous from delegates. We breathe. Relief. ‘So CDX16,’ I jest. ‘We better get planning.’ ‘I’ve just confirmed it with Silverstone,’ says Andy, fashionably ahead of the game as always. ‘May 24, 2016 – less than a year away…’ CarDealerMag.co.uk | 43
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: INTRO
Question time: The bosses The Car Dealer Conference and Automotive Expo gave us the perfect opportunity to gather together some of the most important men in the motoring industry. It’s not very often we can get together two manufacturer bosses to ask them about their businesses and the state of the industry, but we managed to get four. And then we convinced them to sit on a stage, in front of dealers from their brands and others, to answer questions they’d never heard before. What’s your biggest focus at the moment? Tony Whitehorn: I think we as manufacturers know that dealers focus on customer satisfaction. Actually, customer satisfaction is only a means of enabling us to get long-term profitability. Lance Bradley: We’ve been working hard on dealer profitability, because we know that if we have dealer profitability, our profitability will follow from that. We started a programme five or six years ago focusing on providing excellent service. We’ve been having some sessions with our dealer network about values so we can ensure its long-term profitability. Nick Connor: Of course we want to absolutely delight our customers and keep them very happy indeed. We’ve got a very loyal customer database but the challenge specifically for us is to attract people to the brand and make Volvo a more dynamic and exciting brand. Everyone knows us for safety, but we have to convince people our cars are also great fun to drive, exciting and very well made. So that’s my primary focus at the moment, to really push the brand forward. If you guys were parachuted into a car dealership right now, what would be the biggest change you’d make? LB: Three quarters of the people who have bought Outlander PHEV have been non-Mitsubishi customers and a quarter of them have come from premium brands. So if I was to go into one of our own dealerships then I would be looking at resource, and that’s something we’ve been talking to our network about for some time, making sure they have enough people to look after the customers properly and aftersales because the parc is starting to grow again. TW: I believe the dealer 44 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
It was one of the first public appearances for new chairman and managing director of Ford UK Andy Barratt. He was joined on stage by Volvo UK managing director Nick Connor, Hyundai president & CEO Tony Whitehorn and managing director of Mitsubishi UK Lance Bradley. And we could think of no one better than our very own Paxman, also known as James Baggott, to ask the kind of questions we’ve all got on our mind.
model is outstanding when the customer is at the end of the purchase funnel. What we’re not very good at is trying to get them at the beginning of the purchase funnel. We’re very good at dealing with them once they’re through the door. But how can we get them in? I think what we can do is get ourselves out of the dealership and into where the customer happens to be. As well as the traditional advertising, we should be looking at the placement of vehicles, pop-up stores in various locations, so when they’re already shopping they’re interrupted and see one of our vehicles. We can show them a PCP proposition that surprises them and makes them realise they can afford a new car – and not wait for them to come to us. Andy Barratt: Most of my career has been spent working with dealers, and for such a mature distribution market there is so much waste. That might be wasting the customer opportunity or we’ve simply got resources in the wrong places. If we could cut out waste and put resources where they are needed we could have immense customer satisfaction. There is an onus and a responsibility on the manufacturer to try to help
Chairman and managing director,
dealers and there’s a responsibility for dealers to step up and want to take that journey. NC: I think the first thing I’d do is boot myself out! I think manufacturers have a long and glorious history of meddling in dealers’ business. I’ve done it myself and not very successfully. I think dealers get a lot of stick but the vast majority do a fantastic job for their customers and we should encourage that. I do agree with Tony that it’s important that dealers get out to where the customers are. I think the best dealers put a lot of time and effort outside of their dealerships. Do you think the time has come to move away from traditional dealerships and focus more on online buying experiences? TW: Rockar for us has been a really interesting proposition. What is absolutely certain in our industry is we’re very good at giving our customer choice, in terms of models, trims, propulsion... but what we don’t offer is a choice of how they buy their car. What we’ve found with Rockar is people go in there, they enjoy the experience,
TONY WHITEHORN President and CEO, Hyundai
– manufacturers but the majority of them still buy a car from a traditional dealer. We’ve done a lot of research which has shown that by 2020, 90 per cent of all purchases will still be done through a dealership, only 10 per cent will be done online. AB: If I look at my own buying habits, I buy online out of convenience, not out of choice. I want to buy something that will turn up on the doorstep a few days later. I think you don’t necessarily want to do that with a car quite yet – it’s such a large investment, it’s one of those purchases we feel a huge emotional attachment for. LB: Not long ago, people would visit a dealership three or four times before making a purchase. Now it’s one or two. I still think people like to sit in the car, to feel what that steering wheel feels like, actually to smell the new-car smell and the dealership is still the best way of doing that. I think the day when a dealer doesn’t play a significant part in the car purchase is a long way away. NC: When we launched the First Edition XC90 online, we sold 1,927 cars globally in 48 hours. We surprised ourselves that there were that many people who wanted to buy a car without seeing, feeling or touching it. Will everybody do that? No, of course not. I think it’ll change but I don’t see it doing away with physical dealerships. Are electric cars just a fad that will fizzle out? LB: It’s interesting because electric cars were launched maybe 50 years before petrol cars but died out because of advancements in combustion engine technology. There have been a few
Managing director, Mitsubishi UK
attempts since then but they’ve been driven by things like oil price. This time it’s different. There is a bit of oil price, of energy security, but also there’s a lot of legislation and it’s quite hard for manufacturers to meet the European emissions legislations without something fairly dramatic. That’s where it came from for us but people are finding that once someone has bought an electric car, they don’t want to go back to a petrol or diesel car. They buy them for the savings, but when you actually drive it, it doesn’t make any noise, the performance is better and you can feel good about yourself. AB: If you think about car sharing, which is showing significant growth, there may be a role for electric propulsion within that. If you’re going on a short journey of an hour, in the city, it might be the most expedient and clean solution. If you look at what’s happening in London with zero emissions, that may drive the demand for an electric powertrain. I think there is a role for electric, but I think that will be defined by a government or legislative body. NC: I think plug-in hybrids are the immediate future. Full electrics have their issues with range and I think unless we see some significant steps in the next five years with batteries, and their cost comes down also, I wouldn’t bet on it. TW: Ultimately, I do think we’ll be driving cars powered by a battery, it’s how you charge that battery that’s the key. At the moment we think about just getting the battery, plugging it in and charging it – which, for the short term, I get. Something I’ve been saying for 20 years is that fuel cell technology is the route, because it doesn’t change the way you’re driving today. A little light
NICK CONNOR Managing director, Volvo UK
comes on your dash, you go to fill up your car and it takes you four minutes. You can’t do that when you plug a car into the electricity. You can do that through hydrogen. It’s about when that technology will be available, though. LB: Can I just say, if people want electric cars it doesn’t matter how they charge them. If people want a fuel cell, that’s great. If they want a pure electric, that’s great. I actually think battery technology will improve fast so we’ll see 200- or 300-mile range electric cars soon. The other thing about electric vehicles is that once people have driven them, they like them. How rife do you think pre-reg is in the current car market and do you think it’s as damaging as people think? AB: We’re not a manufacturer that drives pre-regs, it’s not part of our DNA. We’ve got a different business plan to get through to our customers. In saying that, and I can’t comment on other people’s brand strategies, some manufacturers probably do this, and it’s the alternative route they choose to get to market. It might be a more simple way of constructing an offer to a customer, it may just be a way of driving your sale volumes, and there are some customers who will actively go to buy a pre-registered car. I’m not here to say if it’s right or wrong, but it’s not the route of Ford. NC: We’re a small brand, less than two per cent market share player, so frankly what we do doesn’t make much difference to the actual market. I’ll tell you that we don’t pre-register our cars. We don’t encourage our dealers to do it and we don’t incentivise our dealers to do it. I think commercially you’re just deferring the pain and it’s distorting the market. I think it’s confusing for the customer. If I were a customer buying a new car I’d rather have it in my name from new, so I think it’s cleaner and more honest to consumers actually. LB: From here, Volvo’s a two per cent player and that looks big! So anything we do makes even less difference. We don’t pre-reg but I’m realistic to know that if a dealer has got a target of 20 and he’s done 19, he’s going to register a car to get to his target and then sell it. It’s not really for me to comment on what other people do, but overall we would prefer to sell a car new to the customer. TW: I feel like saying ditto. There isn’t a manufacturer that would sit up here and say ‘we advocate pre-reg’. Every manufacturer wants their dealer network to sell cars, but we understand that the market is very tough at this moment in time and they need to meet targets. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 45
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: Q&A
Question time: The bosses The manufacturers had their say. Then the dealer bosses trooped on to the stage, to be quizzed by Car Dealer’s version of Lorraine Kelly. Under the spotlight were John Tordoff of JCT600, John O’Hanlon of Ridgeway, Ken Savage of Perrys and Gavin Ruddick of Lookers. They discussed a wide range of issues – but perhaps the most enlightening was the question of pre-registration. While the manufacturers’ stance was ‘no, no, no, we don’t How sustainable do you think the currently buoyant car market is and do you think it’s in danger of bottoming out anytime soon? John Tordoff: I think we’re seeing dealers chasing up realistic manufacturer targets and manufacturers chasing market share with dealers at the brunt of it. I think it bottomed out last year. John O’Hanlon: It does feel like the market has been pushed so we’ve got to be careful believing registration sales rather than what are genuine sales. Ken Savage: There’s a demand from manufacturers for cars to be registered. We heard the manufacturers’ conversation about pre-registration and fair enough, we’ve got manufacturers who are not into pre-registration, but unfortunately manufacturers force the deal to get it to pre-registration. J O’H: I think that’s a great point because we spoke about chasing super money if you register that one extra car; if you’re not chasing super money and if you’re just trying to secure the money on all the cars you’ve already sold, so there’s a lever there for every dealer in the country to hit those targets. JT: We’re halfway through the year and heading towards 2.7 million registrations, which is a new record. You think there’d be people in this building grinning from ear to ear but everyone I can look at is frowning and scratching their head and thinking ‘it shouldn’t feel this bad, it should be feeling a lot better than it is doing’. I think that’s a combination of the pressure that everyone’s feeling in terms of global manufacturers seeing the UK as a soft touch, when China or Italy or Spain or wherever fall at the marketplace and cars are still coming off the production line they send them to the UK – ‘those boys will deal with them’. And generally they do. The damage that does to the marketplace both in the short term and the long term is really bad. And as I say, with record registrations the dealers across the country should be looking forward to record profits. I don’t think you’ll find many people in this building who are experiencing that. So you guys are on the other side of the coin to 46 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
want it to happen’, the dealer chiefs very much gave the message ‘yes, yes, yes, it’s very much part of our everyday business’. So you pay your money and take your choice. But what was refreshing was that the dealers are very keen to attract the best people to work for them – and then to keep them...
the manufacturers we’ve just spoken to, so I’m going to ask you the same question about pre-registrations. How bad do you think they are in the UK and are they damaging? JT: We did a pre-reg exercise in September last year, but little did we know the manufacturer was then going to put our targets up by 16 per cent. So like the good boys we are, we sat on the cars for three months and then we got to market with them in January, and all the money we took to profit last September – and a lot more besides – was then blown away trading up the cars in Q1. At the same time as trying to get to the advised targets, which as I say with this particular brand was 16 per cent higher than last year, because we felt so battered and bruised by that pre-reg exercise we did we chose to go to market aggressively and to get to the targets in the best way possible and not have to go through the same thing again or more pre-reg. But in doing that, we were just trading away our margins – and at the same time manufacturers are expecting you to invest in new facilities and provide great showrooms and iPads for everybody. Costs are escalating, margins are going down and it leads to frowns instead of smiles. KS: We’ve done pre-reg for years in one form or another. It gets to a quarter end, and you’re a few away from your target and it’s very tempting just to take that offer from the manufacturer and put some money against cars. These cars are becoming more and more of a liability and you do more soul searching at the end of each quarter about being able to do it and afford to do it. It’s not just profit, it’s the capital that’s tied up in these cars. We’re talking about hundreds of cars potentially, and millions of pounds. It’s a drug, it’s very much a drug that we need to wean ourselves off. There are manufacturers who don’t encourage us to do this, but unfortunately every manufacturer puts the dealers in the position where we’ve got no choice but to do it. The real problem is those targets. How do you make sure you get the best staff for your dealership? KS: You ask any business and they’ll tell you the biggest challenge they face is getting the right
JCT600’s turnover last year broke the £1billion barrier
Ridgeway is ranked in the top 20 largest UK motor groups
management and staff to work for you. We’ve been looking at ourselves and trying to be a good place to work. We need to try to look after our staff with good facilities and be nice to them and buy them a turkey at Christmas. The basics don’t always happen because there’s often so much focus on profits and returning capital and sometimes you’ve got to say ‘we are in a people business here’. We need to encourage people to come in, because it is a good set-up, you can have a bit of fun and you can earn a lot of money. JT: Our business is all about the people. It’s the people that make the difference. It isn’t the sign on the door, the size of the showroom or how shiny your tyres are, it’s the people in the business that make the difference. We’ve done
Perrys’ operating profit last year was a record £11m
Lookers last year made a record profit of more than £90m
an awful lot of work over the past few years regarding staff engagement and to try to find out what makes people tick. We’ve got 2,100 people in the business and when you ask them what gets them out of bed in the morning, the answers that come back aren’t always ‘I want more money’; it’s about reward and recognition and treating people fairly. So it’s not just about paying people more, it’s often about saying thank you, about picking up the phone and saying well done. I don’t know another industry in the world where you can leave school at 16 with no qualifications but a good work ethic and a decent personality, and by the time you’re 40 you could be running a big business earning £100k a year. Gavin Ruddick: Like John, a lot of our focus in
recent years has been around staff engagement. If we look at any businesses that we’re trying to develop, as John said, people are at the root of that. Ultimately looking after customers is what it comes down to. We’ve done an awful lot of work around staff engagement which is all around promoting the right cultures and values JOH: It’s been really interesting – we’re talking about how to keep our best guys and recognise what they do, and we’ve done a lot of that over the past 12 to 18 months. There have been longservice recognition, awards evenings... things that we haven’t done before. But I suppose if there’s one thing we’ve done that’s been more successful is we’ve hooked up our academy with the marketing department, because so often in the
trade it’s almost trying to fish in the same pond, so we’ve worked quite hard in terms of Twitter and Facebook and tried to get people we wouldn’t normally reach. Then, through a quite rigorous process in terms of phone interviews, bring them in to get them to meet the team they’re going to be working with and get some excitement around the Ridgeway brand with strong presentations. We’ve had some huge successes with pulling up people I’m fairly sure we’d never have reached, who have the right attitude, the right drive and determination who are already proving successful. And again, with some great processes and some great brands, someone with the right attitude in the right environment can prove very successful. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 47
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: TWITTER TOP 150
Twitter top 150: Prestigious Dealers are getting so good with social media that we now celebrate the best 150 – and Sophie Williamson-Stothert looks at how we found the very best of the best.
his is the fourth time we’ve announced the most influential dealers on Twitter and it’s become more popular than we ever could have imagined. For the second year running, we announced the winners at our conference – CDX15 – at an exclusive invitation-only session. The original and much-copied Twitter 150 list has been highly-anticipated by the motor trade with many dealers turning up at our Expo to find out where they placed. Georgina Parnell from Twitter UK handed out the awards to our best-placed dealers and hosted a Q&A session with the delegates. Scott Sinclair from Google also spoke to our special guests. Prestige Diesels were this year’s overall winner, climbing from second to the top spot with an impressive margin of four Klout points. Another high-flying independent dealer was Caroline Shield, who runs the Simon Shield Cars Twitter account, who was second on the list. Third place this year went to Perrys, who have
won the award twice in previous years. The keen-eyed among you will notice this year we’ve extended the list to 150 dealers – purely because Twitter is now such a large part of the dealers’ world that everyone has improved, and the scores were closer than ever so it seemed unfair on those outside the top 100 to miss out.
The way we judge this competition is using Klout, which analyses how influential you are on social media. The actual definition of influential is ‘the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone or something.’ That’s what we’re looking for – those people who are making a difference to this industry and their customers via social media. We weren’t looking at sales or how big your brand is, although that might be why you’re active on social media. These awards are judged purely on the influence you have on your followers. If you had the same Klout score as someone else, we’ve then moved to your Twitter followers. When we first ran this list back in 2013, we were seeing Klout scores that ranged from 32 to 65, and that was in a list of only 100 dealers. In today’s results, scores start from 43 and go all the way to an incredible 73. This is a competition that is getting tougher every year, so even if you’ve only managed to stay on the list, you’ve done very well indeed! Take a look at the list below to find out where you are.
THE MOST INFLUENTIAL DEALERS ON TWITTER 2015 AWARDS Pos Screen Name 1 @prestigediesels 2 @simonshieldcars 3 @Imperialcar 4 @perrysmotors 5 @HarwoodsGroup 6 @evanshalshawuk 7 @swanswaygroup 8 @DriveBenfield 9 @ArnoldClark 10 @jimreidvehicle 11 @dicklovett 12 @MB_Retail 13 @PorscheRetail 14 @specialistcars1 15 @WrexhamVW 16 @NewmarketCars 17 @creweaudi 18 @STAFFORDAUDI 19 @TCHarrisonFord 20 @Vanarama 21 @stoneacremotors 22 @Saxton4x4 23 @StanPalmerHonda 24 @motorpoint 25 @cars_portsmouth 26 f@fordsofwinsford 27 @RabyPorsche 28 @LookersGroup 29 @AVC_Leasing 30 @elmsbmwandmini 31 @greenhous 32 @johnclarkmotors 33 @JemcaCarGroup 34 @rrg_group 35 @crewevw 36 @SandlesCars 37 @LandRoverStaffs
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Name Alexis Caroline Shield Imperial Car Sales Perrys Harwoods Group Evans Halshaw Swansway Group DriveBenfield Arnold Clark JimReidVehicleSales Dick Lovett Mercedes-Benz Retail Porsche Retail Group specialistcars1 Wrexham Volkswagen Newmarket Cars Crewe Audi Stafford Audi T.C.Harrison Ford Vanarama StoneacreMotorGroup Saxton 4×4 Stan Palmer Honda Motorpoint Giles Usher Fords of Winsford Philip Raby Porsche Lookers AllVehicleContracts Elms BMW and MINI Greenhous John Clark Jemca Car Group RRG Group Crewe Volkswagen Sandles Cars Stafford Land Rover
Klout Followers 73.69 7855 68.95 5666 68.05 3497 66.95 5599 66.35 7676 65.77 11680 65.42 3592 65.39 7149 65.33 9041 64.37 3459 63.63 2742 63.31 7977 62.46 9215 62.00 61.89 2468 61.79 5288 61.69 2096 61.63 3128 61.60 1404 61.50 8697 61.15 3210 60.75 1744 60.41 3236 60.27 5172 59.76 3674 59.26 4480 58.68 5075 57.71 1842 57.50 3916 57.11 3138 56.67 1175 55.89 1073 55.79 1882 55.67 1546 55.53 1515 55.02 5244 55.01 1052
Movement +1 +11 STATIC -3 +3 -1 3 -4 +15 +14 -5 -7 +1 +17 NEW -4 NEW +48 -6 -10 -3 +6 +4 -6 NEW +1 +29 -14 NEW +64 +4 NEW +7 NEW NEW NEW
38 @hendygroup 39 @DewsMotorGroup 40 @jct600 41 @vehicle_lease 42 @BristolStMotors 43 @VantageMotorGrp 44 @Lease4Less 45 @CaptainCaralot 46 @CaptainCaralot 47 @ToyotaLeasing 48 @GlynHopkinGroup 49 @Jennings_Group 50 @Sandicliffe 51 @RidgewayVW 52 @ivanhamillcars 53 @SturgessCarsLtd 54 @CriteriaCars 55 @JardineAudi 56 @HumphrisOxford 57 @Caffynslive 58 @griffinmill 59 @hodgsonltd 60 @Ocean_BMW 61 @MacklinMotors 62 @RobinLuscombe 63 @vindisgroup 64 @stratstoneuk 65 @JA_Autos 66 @AMARISUPERCARS 67 @Shrewsbury_BMW 68 @wessexgarages 69 @wessexgarages 70 @westovergroup 71 @Carcraft 72 @MacraeandDick 73 @sbpeugeot 74 @AstonMartinWork 75 @StockportHonda
Hendy Group Dews Motor Group JCT600 Concept Car Leasing BristolStreetMotors Vantage Motor Group Thames Motor Group Lease4Less Captain Caralot Farmer & Carlisle Glyn Hopkin Group Jennings Motor Group Sandicliffe Ridgeway Volkswagen Ivan Hamill Cars Sturgess Motor Group Ben Jardine Audi Humphris Oxford Caffyns Griffin Mill Garages Hodgson Newcastle Ocean BMW Macklin Motors Luscombe’s Leeds Vindis Group Stratstone JA Autos Ltd AMARI SUPERCARS Rybrook Shrewsbury Wessex Garages Westover Group Carcraft Macrae and Dick Simon Bailes Peugeot Sytner Audi Aston Martin Works Stockport Honda
54.78 2409 54.67 3659 54.33 4743 54.26 4811 53.92 5429 53.87 1264 53.78 1070 53.53 744 53.47 32593 53.41 1141 53.41 1300 53.22 441 52.51 2795 52.32 2412 52.24 849 52.14 2235 51.78 1464 51.50 1158 51.46 585 50.96 1558 50.54 808 50.49 876 50.46 12461 50.20 3332 50.00 959 49.87 1920 49.84 2723 49.69 2322 49.48 4850 49.05 6040 48.84 2391 48.83 1200 48.79 4077 48.73 839 48.66 782 48.62 2335 48.31 3009 48.25 583
-8 -12 -6 -12 -4 -12 +52 NEW -14 NEW NEW NEW -42 -35 +6 -6 +9 NEW NEW NEW -17 NEW -18 NEW -13 26 -45 -17 -15 +1 -8 NEW -27 NEW NEW -19 NEW NEW
success for Prestige The Most Influential Dealers on Twitter 2015 Awards
Most Influential Dealer 2015
Most Influential Franchised Dealer 2015
Best Twitter Photo of the Conference
This year Prestige Diesels (@PrestigeDiesels) climbed to the top of the list with a Klout score of 73.
Last year’s winner Perrys (@perrysmotors) have maintained their spot as the most influential franchised dealer.
Finally, the award for the best Twitter photo from CDX15 went to this tweet by Ridgeway Group. bitly.com/lostbunny
Highest Climber 2015
Best Follower Ratio 2015
Climbing 62 places on our list makes Greenhous (@greenhous) the most improved dealer on our list.
With more than 32,000 followers, despite following fewer than 500 Twitter accounts, Captain Caralot (@CaptainCaralot) has the best follower ratio on this year’s list.
76 @MarshallMotorGp Daksh Gupta 77 @Autofarm Autofarm 1973 LTD 78 @BeadlesToyota Beadles Toyota 79 @AgnewGroup Agnew Group 80 @RMBAuto RMB Automotive 81 @ArburyGroup Arbury Motor Group 82 @BigCarsLtd BIG CARS LTD 83 @DriveVauxhall Drive Vauxhall 84 @Lexus_Woodford Lexus Woodford 85 @GeoffCoxDerby Geoff Cox 86 @ictruckandvan IMPERIAL Commercials 87 @hippomotorgroup Hippo Motor Group 88 @CrownHondaUK Crown Honda 89 @SwainandJonesCrownHondaUK Swain and Jones 90 @LexusStockport Lexus Stockport 91 @RenaultRetailUK RenaultRetailUK 92 @AlanDayVW Alan Day Volkswagen 93 @Beadles_Group Beadles 94 @VospersMotors VospersMotors 95 @audinorthwest Audinorthwest 96 @PeterCooperVW Peter Cooper VW 97 @TrustFordUK TrustFord 98 @SturgessLR Sturgess Land Rover 99 @LeasingOptions Leasing Options Ltd 100 @JohnHartleyCars John Hartley Cars 101 @HawkinsMG Hawkins Motor Group 102 @HR_Owen H. R. Owen 103 @LowCostVans Rod Lloyd & Team 104 @ListerCars Lister 105 @NissanRetailUK Nissan Retail Group 106 @RandDPeugeot Robins & Day Peugeot 107 @SinclairAudi Sinclair Audi 108 @parkway_vw Parkway Volkswagen 109 @BenfieldSkoda Benfield Skoda 110 @SinclairVW Sinclair Volkswagen 111 @Shrewsbury_MINI Rybrook Shrews MINI 112 @Bavarian_BMW Bavarian BMW 113 @car4leasing car4leasing
48.24 3787 48.12 3064 47.94 216 47.85 1154 47.71 1239 47.64 934 47.56 15884 47.37 1366 47.19 2737 46.93 205 46.90 3864 46.86 1843 46.81 298 46.78 1512 46.69 1366 46.66 736 46.49 1629 46.45 645 46.39 1176 46.39 1103 46.35 3942 46.31 1086 46.13 480 45.75 1116 45.71 1148 45.69 3121 45.60 5776 45.52 929 45.41 1510 45.35 422 45.31 1442 45.26 2051 45.23 304 45.07 8356 45.05 2296 45.01 2908 44.98 718 44.95 716
-16 -39 NEW +14 +11 -15 -46 -49 -22 NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW -5 NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW -31 -19 -23 NEW NEW NEW -31 NEW -43 NEW -39 NEW NEW
Most Influential Independent Dealer 2015
Tweeters’ Tweeter of the Year 2015
Alexis, who runs the Prestige Diesels account, is also our most influential independent dealer of the year.
We asked the dealers in our session to vote for who had stood out on Twitter to them this year and the winner was Ridgeway Group (@ridgewaygroup).
114 @ridgewayskoda 115 @MotorParks 116 @Vertuhonda 117 @RosedaleLeasing 118 @OakmereMotorGrp 119 @bolton_kia 120 @DuncanSmartBMW 121 @LancasterBMW 122 @MoveLeasingSE 123 @MoveLeasingSE 124 @lambo7oaks 125 @BMWSpire 126 @SwannAutomotive 127 @ecocars4sale 128 @lyncsalesteam 129 @FairfaxHonda 130 @winchcarsales 131 @SinclairMerc 132 @Car_leasingUK 133 @PeterVardy 134 @cargiant 135 @mylocalvauxhall 136 @HyltonMotors 137 @EssexAutoGroup 138 @InchcapeToyota 139 @trueFleetUK 140 @WestEndMotors 141 @liverpoolVWCV 142 @SwanswayMCR 143 @ButlersVehicle 144 @MitchellGroupUK 145 @WylamGarage 146 @InchcapeLexus 148 @AngusMacKinnonl 148 @thecarpeople 149 @AMARI_SC 150 @MotivaGroup
Ridgeway SKODA motorparks.co.uk Vertu Honda Rosedale Leasing Oakmere Motor Group Bolton Kia Duncan Smart Lancaster BMW MoveLeasingSouthEast Richmond Ford LamborghiniSevenoaks Spire BMW Swann Automotive Ecocars4sale LeaseYourNextCar.com Fairfax Honda Winchester Car Sales Sinclair Mercedes CarLeasingMadeSimple Peter Vardy Cargiant My Local Vauxhall Hylton Motor Group Essex Auto Group Inchcape Toyota trueFleet West End Motors Liverpool Van Centre Swansway Manchester ButlersVehicle Mitchell Group Wylam Garage Inchcape Lexus Angus MacKinnon LTD The Car People AMARI Motiva Group
44.91 44.86 44.83 44.72 44.70 44.51 44.34 44.32 44.26 44.24 44.17 44.16 44.16 44.13 44.12 44.03 43.97 43.96 43.96 43.95 43.93 43.92 43.79 43.77 43.71 43.69 43.67 43.64 43.46 43.42 43.36 43.33 43.32 43.30 43.30 43.27 43.19
372 1833 706 257 1173 1867 1479 177 576 11013 2005 229 2806 3897 1200 944 484 2643 782 3895 977 1936 10058 1271 2287 1298 2081 463 317 1252 1353 1514 1834 749 3109 1024 490
NEW NEW -20 NEW NEW -42 NEW -24 NEW NEW -71 NEW +113 NEW NEW -67 NEW NEW NEW -65 NEW NEW -79 NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW -53 NEW -58 NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: BREAKOUT SESSION
Women in the motor industry
Do women get a raw deal in the motor industry? It certainly seems so – and if job interviews these days still concentrate on how a highly-qualified woman would cope being in charge of a building full of men, instead of the challenges offered by the business, then it seems we still have a long way to go. SOPHIE WILLIAMSONSTOTHERT was among the women who talked frankly and openly at Silverstone...
ven today in the 21st century, there are still cases where being a woman in a predominantly maledominated industry can be unjustly imbalanced. However, through the trials and tribulations, there is growing number of passionate women occupying some of the most important and challenging roles in the automotive industry. With this in mind, we were proud to present an exclusive session dedicated to celebrating exactly that. Hosted by ITV4’s British Touring Car Championship presenter Louise Goodman – dubbed the first woman in Formula 1 – the Women in the Motor Industry breakout session was specifically tailored for women working in all areas of our beloved industry. From business owners and journalists to dealer principals and rally drivers, guests had the opportunity to share experiences, exchange ideas and seek inspiration from a panel of four key speakers. The panel featured a variety of industry faces including Welsh rally driver Sara Williams; the owner of a Norfolk-based workshop, Caroline Lake; the head of franchise and leisure at Black Horse, Nagla Thabet; and award-winning dealer principal at Wrexham Volkswagen, Jane Hargreaves. Although their job titles couldn’t be more different, their goals are recognisable to us all. Throughout the session, guests engaged in an hour-long discussion and a handful of heated debates, covering many aspects of being a woman in the automotive industry. Questions ranged from ‘how to succeed in a job interview aimed at a male audience’ and ‘why it can still be difficult to gain an authoritative status among colleagues’ to ‘should women still be taking their clothes off to sell or promote cars or motor racing?’ When it comes down to it, the answer to the majority of the questions asked was that it simply shouldn’t matter what sex you are – staff shouldn’t be segregated by gender but recognised
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for the qualifications they acquire, the attitude to work and the dedication they bring to the position they occupy. One guest highlighted the difficulties she had experienced during an interview for a high-profile position, when her interviewee plainly used her gender as a potential barrier to climbing the ladder. Unlike asking an employee to work on improving their customer communication skills or their work ethic, how can one work on making sure their gender doesn’t get in the way of promotion? One member of the panel offered the following tactics: ‘This isn’t the first time this has happened and it certainly won’t be the last. Although it’s shocking to know this sort of attitude is still prominent when conducting interviews, even in this day and age, we can only make sure we’re prepared to prove them wrong. ‘When this happened to me, I wasn’t expecting it at all. My interviewer told me he was concerned about how I would feel working within a male-dominated team and whether or not I could handle the pressure. I was shocked. It can knock your confidence, but it only made me more determined to get that job. We have to turn their negative suggestions into positive energy. ‘I asked for a second interview and used the week I had to prepare myself for every possible question he could fire at me. You need to make sure you’ve got the tools and knowledge needed to overcome their negative points. I researched the business until I knew it inside out, as well as the responsibilities I’d be fulfilling in the role I was so desperate to get. In the end, he had to give me the job.’ At the other end of the spectrum, the session included a rather heated debate concerning the ‘use’ of women and their bodies to sell and promote cars, whether it be in motorsport, on the television, at motor shows or in automotive magazines. ‘Sex sells!’ claimed one guest. ‘But women shouldn’t need to be naked to be accepted in the car world,’ argued another. The cliché of women straddling cars in their
Sara is a sales and service adviser by trade, and a rally driver by weekend. Aged 26, when she isn’t selling used cars from her father’s dealership – Brecon Motors – in Wales, she can usually be found tearing up tarmac and gravel stages in her Subaru Impreza rally car.
underwear is a somewhat dated notion. In fact, in the mainstream automotive industry, it’s quite rare to come across such imagery. However, there are cases where cars and motorsport are advertised in a way that objectifies women. ‘Does that not degrade the rest of us who don’t take our clothes off for the camera?’ one guest asked. ‘Don’t the actions of others sometimes tar others with the same brush, making it more difficult for women to be taken
Nagla obtained a PhD in Computational Linguistics. Her latest move was to join Black Horse, heading up franchise and leisure. She holds director responsibility for three joint ventures with sizeable profit and loss accountability. Nagla currently leads the talent and development agenda in asset finance and is an active member of the Women’s Breakthrough Network.
Cars and mechanics were hard-wired into Caroline’s DNA from the beginning. She realised both sexes weren’t treated with the same respect when it comes to understanding how their cars work. Caroline made the ultimate step in 2004 when she began developing her new business, Caroline’s Cars, in Norwich.
seriously as knowledgeable professionals? We are just as credible as men and highly regarded for our skills, knowledge and passion for this automotive industry, but perhaps sometimes this is contradicted by the idea that women are only good at doing one thing: taking their clothes off? You don’t see naked women posing next to computers or sofas, so why should they be stood next to cars?’ Being such a controversial argument, which has been a stagnant debate
Before joining the Swansway Group, Jane held the position of group accountant for Northgate Vehicle Hire. She joined Wrexham Volkswagen as dealership accountant in 2006. Having developed a passion for the motor retail business, Jane challenged herself to become a brand manager/ dealer principal and became brand manager at Wrexham Volkswagen in March 2012.
within the motor industry for generations, the room was unable to come to a clear decision everyone could agree on. Aside from the fact that this isn’t necessarily a women’s issue, but an industry image, that is gradually beginning to fade and, as more women prove their worth in the industry, will eventually fizzle out. But considering the times we live in, and the fact many women enjoy posing next to fast cars, it’s unlikely it will disappear completely.
ITV4’s British Touring Car Championship presenter
While many guests rightly held an individual view, it was refreshing to witness an inspiring group of industry professionals come together and put the world to rights. It’s important to note the 30-plus women sat in this one room at Silverstone have all been successful in their ventures into the automotive sector, and while many didn’t plan to end up there, they’re living proof that women play a key role in the automotive industry. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 51
DELIVERING MORE THAN ‘JUST’ A WEBSITE
hen creating a dealer website – or any website for that matter – businesses need to ask themselves a few fundamental questions: How do I make my site stand out? How can I truly engage with potential customers? What media and tools can I use to help increase the number of leads I am getting from my website? All too often, the humble dealer website is still being viewed as something that sits there, displays stock and tells people how they can get in touch (postal address anyone?). An asset, definitely, but not one that is working hard to bring you profit. But we’re well into the age when the dealer website is becoming a showcase for all kinds of technology and media that is helping revolutionise the way cars are marketed. At GForces we believe that rich digital media is one of the most important aspects of creating a digital dealership that really performs. Words on a page are important – for SEO apart from anything else – but they aren’t the only means to engage online. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, people read less than half the text on a web page with 110 or more words on it, but on average they’ll watch two and a half minutes of video. When it comes to absorbing information, people are typically drawn to the easiest option – visual media. Buying a car is also an emotive process, choices often coming down to the visual rather than the purely functional. Rich media such as images and video appeals to people’s desire for easy-to-digest information and choice-making. Importantly, in the age of the ‘always connected’ consumer who now does more browsing on mobile devices than desktops, smaller screen sizes means text simply isn’t the
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best method of communication. Further studies by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that while in 2000 the average attention span was 12 seconds, by 2015 this had languished to just 8.5 seconds – in fact, 17 per cent of web page views last less than four seconds. To avoid a tragic web page bounce rate, it is necessary to hook the viewer as quickly and effectively as possible. All kinds of rich media are now finding their way on to dealer websites to help promote cars; we call the process of creating this ‘digital stock preparation’. First and foremost, imagery remains the backbone of displaying vehicles online, but even this simplest of media isn’t immune to a digital overhaul. Increasingly, dealers limited by space and a suitable backdrop are ‘augmenting’ images of used cars against more attractive backdrops, creating greater consistency and attractiveness to customers. Result? A 22 per cent increase in used car page views and 26 per cent reduction in bounce rate. Video is next up. According to GForces’ quarterly analysis of the Top 200 dealers in the UK, 73.5 per cent use online video in one form or another. Many smaller franchises and independents do likewise. We have found that web page visitors will tend to spend 15 per cent of their time reading content, 25 per cent of their time looking at images and the remaining 60 per cent of their time watching video – if it’s available. Across several clients, we found that after implementing used car video they experienced an average 26 per cent increase in page views and 74 per cent increase in leads from listing pages.
Video doesn’t just have to be plain stock videos that simply give an overview of a vehicle. ‘Showcase’ film, distributed via YouTube, social media and the like, can be halo marketing material that works to elevate a dealer’s entire brand – not just the products it sells. More and more, web visitors want to take hold of what they are looking at and control it for themselves. Interactive content like this is realised through 360-degree interiors and exteriors in the automotive sector, with examples out there from the likes of Lookers (new cars) and Imperial Car Supermarkets (used cars). Implementing interactive 360-degree content not only gives customers a greater insight into a car than images or video, it also has a tangible impact on web performance. It reduces page bounce rate by around 20 per cent and also increases time on page – ergo, customer engagement. The average time for using a 360-degree interior tour alone is over one and a half minutes – significantly more time than they’ll typically spend on a regular web page. Times are changing in automotive retail. We are in the fastest period of evolution for many years, spurred on by faster web speeds, faster computers, the uptake of mobile and developments in software. Customers, inevitably, become used to rich online experiences quickly. Embracing rich media allows car dealers to provide more than ‘just’ a website. When customers walk into a showroom, first impressions are important. Turning their online visit into an experience is even more imperative now that rich media tools and services are proving themselves.
More and more, web visitors want to take hold of what they are looking at and control it for themselves
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 53
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Group Strategy director, GForces
he power of social media was highlighted in a memorable way by Tim Smith. He looked at the case of #Lostbunny, a children’s toy that was found when a courtesy car that had been used by a customer was valeted. Ridgeway Oxford decided to try to find its owner. The bunny became a celebrity – it went to the FA Cup Final, concerts by S Club 7 and Paul McCartney, and it was invited to open supermarkets. The initial tweet was shared by 12,000 people, eventually reached more than one million, and had 450,000 shares on social media. Other highlights included Toomey Motor Group selling 21 vehicles as a direct result of an email campaign. Ford’s January sale video, aired on YouTube and Sky AdSmart, reached more than 350,000 viewers and saw a 14 per cent uplift on orders. Forty per cent of UK consumers now buy items on their mobile phone – and the number is rising. Fast. The message is clear – make your marketing a rich mix. You can’t afford to ignore any medium these days.
Editor-in-chief, Auto Express
hen it comes to knowing what car buyers are looking for, few people are more clued up than Steve Fowler, editorin-chief of leading magazine Auto Express and the website Car Buyer. So it was no surprise to see so many CDX15 delegates gathered around the main stage to hear Steve share his views on what they could do to win and retain more customers and boost sales. He said things had improved marginally when it came to customer service in recent years but that it was still ‘very easy to buy a car badly and very difficult to buy a car well’. ‘Today’s customers,’ he said, ‘want it all!’ Referencing his own recent experience of visiting dealerships to buy a car for his daughter, Steve explained he’d encountered some common problems. At the first dealership there was nowhere to park. At the second the car he wanted to view in the showroom was locked and had been sold. In the third, a ‘nice’ salesman tried to be helpful but was trying to serve two customers at once. The fourth dealership
was the only one to offer a good all-round service, while the fifth found the salesman chatting to the receptionist instead of working, the sixth offered no service at all and the last was excellent but was in the middle of a refurbishment. These problems were among the bugbears most commonly reported as part of the annual Auto Express Driver Power survey, which this year attracted 61,000 responses. By far the most common gripe (32 per cent) was dealers not correctly identifying a problem with a car. This was followed by 28 per cent who complained about unanswered calls, 12 per cent encountered discourteous staff and eight per cent felt their cars were always returned dirty. But the news was not all bad and Steve had some simple pointers for dealers looking to improve: n Don’t rest on your laurels – always strive to improve n Treat anyone who walks into your showroom the way you would like to be treated n Embrace new technology and video test drives n Always put the customer’s convenience first
Automotive industry manager, Google COMING up with an online strategy can feel like navigating a minefield. That’s why there was such huge interest in the penultimate main-stage speech of CDX15 delivered by Scott Sinclair, automotive industry manager at Google. Lesson number one – mobile’s where it’s at! Sixty per cent of devices connected to the internet are now smart phones, Scott explained, before adding that 54 per cent of automotive searches on Google now come from mobile devices. Mobile phones, he said, offer ‘remote control freedom for the next generation’. And, he added, a staggering 15 million Android mobile phones come online every day. As a result, any business planning an online strategy must make sure its website and all functionality is fully optimised for mobile devices. 54 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
This led directly to lessons two and three – put someone in charge of mobile and build mobile utility into your website. Making someone fully responsible for delivering content and functionality for mobile users, would pay dividends and could be the difference between a sale won and a sale lost, he said. Lesson four – be found and drive discoverability. This means constantly reviewing search engine
optimisation and ensuring your dealership’s details pop up towards the top of any online search. Lesson five – experiment and be innovative. Scott said: ‘There is no manual for a successful internet strategy – just give it a go and be creative.’ And finally, underlining lesson five, lesson six: ‘You can never be too late to be early.’ ‘Most ideas for the web are quick and easy to do,’ said Scott. ‘Don’t be afraid to try the latest thing. If something doesn’t work, just rip it up and try something else.’
Managing director, Renault-Dacia
DX15 had barely started when delegates were given a fascinating first-person insight into the most successful automotive brand launch in UK history. Ken Ramirez, managing director of Renault and Dacia, told how the Romanian brand was introduced to the UK with phenomenal results. In just two years, the brand has sold more than 50,000 units in the UK – with year-to-date sales ahead of established marques including Mazda, Volvo and Suzuki – and picked up no fewer than 23 industry awards. The secret, he said, was having the right product at the right time allied to the right business model and right marketing message. This not only struck a chord with consumers, but also with car dealers. Every Renault dealer in the country was offered a Dacia franchise when the brand was launched and 100 per cent took up the offer. In turn, this contributed to and coincided with a resurgence in the fortunes of the Renault Group in the UK. Nine new model launches in two years saw group sales double and growth outpace the market for 20 months.
Lead account executive, Twitter CAR dealers should be using Twitter to maximise their relationships with customers. That was the message from Georgina Parnell, lead account executive for Twitter, who gave a colourful and informative talk. She told dealers the social networking site could boost their business if they used it imaginatively. Ideas include coming up with daily features to tweet about, such as ‘Throwback Thursdays’ or ‘Tasteless Tuesdays’, striking images, or sharing stories about members of the dealer’s team. Georgina said there were 2.8 million mentions of cars on Twitter in the 90 days leading up to the conference. Among those are people who want to buy a car and are telling the world about it. ‘In the past you only knew someone wanted to buy a new car when they called you up or came
into your dealership,’ she said. Georgina said Twitter can add a ‘magical’ touch to building relationships with people as well as expanding a dealer’s customer base. Georgina added: ‘It’s about delivering the right message and delivering it to the right audience. Twitter is the best way to promote your business for free.’ GEORGINA’S TOP TIPS: 1. Make yourself easily identifiable – ensure
your brand is instantly recognised. 2. Drive a strong emotional response. Use events, or quotes from customers. 3. Prompt interaction and engagement. 4. Incorporate story telling – use your own story through Twitter. 5. Get to the point, quickly. Test out different ways of tweeting and see what works best. 6. Embrace constraint – you don’t have to use all 140 characters. 7. Drive business objectives – encourage people to your own website. 8. Put your own stamp on things. Use Twitter’s own live video streaming service Periscope to show off your new cars or test drives. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 55
DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: EXPO IN PICTURES
Expo in pictures Our Expo proved you can work and have fun at the same time. The stands were buzzing all day...
here was fun. There were games. There was networking. And there was lots of business being done. And we mean LOTS. The Expo saw 75 suppliers pack into two massive halls at Silverstone. And they reported brisk trade all day. Don’t take our word for it. GardX Protection had an impressive stand, complete with car. They said: ‘We ensured we had a big presence at the event and were proud to display the race-winning BMW 1 series British Touring car. ‘The event attracted a huge crowd of industry professionals, which led to the generation of extremely valuable leads and some fantastic introductions for GardX. This is an event we are already looking forward to next year!’ WMS Group said: ‘We were absolutely blown away by the size and quality of the Expo. The WMS Group were inundated with dealer enquiries and we also made many new supplier contacts. Our pitch is already booked for next year!’ Perfect Placement said: ‘This was our first Expo of any kind and we were not disappointed. We’re an agency that supplies the motor trade with recruitment services and we were there primarily to cement in the minds of the delegates that recruitment is as much a part of their daily lives as warranty, paint protection, IT solutions and even shelving solutions. From the feedback we received, we achieved our aim. ‘We are now doing business with five new clients and have further cemented our relationship with hundreds more. ‘We will definitely be attending next year.’ Joel Combes of Lawgistics said: ‘We took a lot of leads away and 50 per cent were potentially BIG business – groups and franchises! ‘The whole expo was fantastic from start to finish. It was just a shame it was all over so quickly – personally, I think you should have run it over two days!’ Next year, more space will be made available so the Expo can be even bigger and even better. Watch this space for details!
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
Lawgistics: Employment law
he complexities of employment law were tackled in an entertaining fashion by those legal eagles at Lawgistics. David Combes got the workshop off to a lighthearted start with a scenario that Noah could never get an ark built in this day and age. There’d be building regulations, planning permissions, bypassing tree preservation orders to get the wood, trade union pressure because he was only using his sons to help him and not health-andsafety-trained accredited workers… And Nicola Porter highlighted plenty more potential pitfalls for employers when she focused on shared parental leave (a minefield), long-term sickness procedures (confusing), holiday pay rules (employees can claim WHAT???) and disciplinary investigations (aarrrgghhhh….). Take shared parental leave. The mother has to take the first two weeks off after the birth. After that, though, the next 50 weeks can be shared – and not just with the biological father. So, if the mother is in a relationship with another woman, they can share the leave. They can split the time off, too – for example, they can take six weeks, return to work for six weeks, take another six weeks…. It’s a nightmare scenario for employers. Of course, taking parental leave like this has to fit in with the working practices of the business. But employers are expected to do what they can, within reason, to accommodate requests, so just saying ’no’ isn’t an option. It’s also worth remembering that if someone takes 26 weeks off they’re entitled to return to the same job they had when they left. After 26 weeks it has to be a similar job. And while they’re off, they’re accruing holiday entitlement during all that time. The other topics discussed on the day were equally enlightening – and underlined how easy it is for employers to make costly errors, even when they think they are acting reasonably.
GForces: The next generation of websites
Noah could never get an ark built in this day and age
Nicola Porter 58 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Steven Lloyd-Barlow tells his audience about the importance of rich digital assets and content here are many tricks of the trade dealers should now be using to generate leads to secure more sales. And a lot of research has been done so we know exactly what works – and what doesn’t – in the quest to attract more customers. Key to any online content is to make it mediarich, keep people online longer and engage with them, Steven Lloyd-Barlow, the digital media services director of GForces, told attendees at his Digital Assets workshop. And he stressed customers’ expectations had evolved. They are now used to seeing goodquality video and images online – a dealer who uses poor-quality pictures and dreadfully shot video won’t gain the credibility or trust of potential customers. Among the facts and figures he presented: n 53 per cent of under-24s prefer using the internet to watching TV. n 53 per cent of under-24s use social media more than once a day. n 50 per cent of under-24s use YouTube daily. n In 2000, an adult’s average attention span was 12 seconds. Now it’s 8.5 seconds. n 17 per cent of page views last less than four seconds.
n If a story online has about 100 words, most people will read less than half of it before moving on to another page. n 78 per cent of people will use an online video during their next car purchase. ‘Expectations have changed,’ said Lloyd-Barlow. ‘Take Netflix. People start watching a film at home, pause it, then decide to watch it the next day, on their tablet or phone while they’re on the train or at work, and it resumes where they left off. The lesson here for the automotive industry is that we have to keep up with the technology out there. Technology has evolved and there are a number of solutions ready and available from a number of suppliers. When cars arrive at your dealership, they should be cleaned and then run through a 360-degree interactive turntable solution. The processing centre should be doing it – it should have no involvement with the sales manager at all. ‘Rich digital assets and content are the cornerstone of any strategy by manufacturers or dealers – it should be your focus, whether you deal with used cars or new cars. We know that a lot of people who look at new-car sites are actually wanting to buy a used car. ‘It’s more cost-effective now to produce great content than it has ever been.’
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
The Auto Network: Lead generation
here has never been so much choice and so many ways to bring your dealership to the attention of potential car buyers. And dealers who aren’t taking advantage of new routes to market are losing out, commercial consultant Chris Smith told delegates at The Auto Network’s lead generation masterclass. ‘Some dealers are not doing a lot – others are doing it very, very well,’ he said, adding: ‘You can’t underestimate how important social media is these days.’ He told his audience that 38 per cent of people now used social media before buying a car. Here are the tips he gave… TWITTER Great for brand awareness. Difficult to sell a car in 140 characters but great to get people into the funnel and set for the next step. FACEBOOK Good for placing advertising content, just not so good for a hard sell. INSTAGRAM Growing all the time. A good medium to place pictures of cars and say to people that if they’re interested in cars like that to get in touch. VINE With six-second video clips, it’s hard to do anything other than a quick tour of a vehicle. but as a visual product it’s very useful – and, of course, it can be used with Twitter. YOUTUBE To develop brand credibility, this is terrific. It has one billion users and 300 hours of video are
uploaded every minute. This is one medium that dealers should not ignore. WEBSITES You want people to keep returning to your site. A good site builds trust and credibility. But websites now must be mobile- and tabletresponsive. The new Google algorithms will mean a 30 per cent decrease in your traffic if you’re not fully compliant. And research shows that 50 per cent of people will not complete registration forms – and the more fields you ask them to fill in, the bigger the drop-off rate. DATA AND CONTENT MARKETING The most under-used tool in most dealers’ kit. Most of the data they hold is not clean. Why? Your existing database presents you with probably your most significant opportunity to sell. It’s about nurturing these people through the process so they become committed enough to become a lead. BANNER ADS They can work – but make sure your ad is on a relevant site or page. Putting an automotive ad on a page about make-up won’t get it seen by the kind of customer you’re looking for. EMAIL All dealers could do worse than follow the ‘twohour rule’, Chris told the masterclass attendees. ‘Some people I deal with follow this religiously. If they get an email inquiry from a customer and haven’t replied within those two hours they don’t bother replying at all. They know they’ve blown it – they’ve already lost that customer to a competitor.’
CiRO: How to protect your dealership
ecurity service experts CiRO warned car dealerships they must put special measures in place to protect their businesses from internal and external dangers. Corporate intelligence consultants made up of former government security employees told the Car Dealer Expo audience that their company’s intellectual property could be stolen. Intellectual property includes designs, copyrights, trademarks, patents, databases and trade secrets. Threats, CiRO says, can come from former or current employees, hackers, or rival firms wanting to poach your staff or harm your business. Mark Sullivan, a director at CiRO, said some hackers had even held company websites to ransom. He told dealers that employment contracts were incredibly important and had to be thorough, with no ambiguity in the wording, to strengthen their case in any legal action. He asked: ‘Who in your business holds the crown jewels? What’s in their contract?’ Mark said dealers should put in specific policies to protect their business, monitor staff, file copyrights, restrict access to confidential information and back up data. He added: ‘It doesn’t mean you have to be Big Brother, it’s just taking simple measures to protect your business.’
Who in your business holds the crown jewels?
Mark Sullivan warned about security risks faced by firms
Chris Smith gives attendees the lowdown on getting ahead CarDealerMag.co.uk | 61
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
Motors.co.uk: The customer journey
n an industry full of second-hand car dealers, not to mention large franchise groups, it can be increasingly difficult to generate the customer recognition you‘re looking for. But Dermot Kelleher, director of marketing at Motors.co.uk, provided a range of top tips on how to make sure you get the most from you online marketing budget during his workshops at #CDX15. Kelleher reminded his audience that making the most of your online presence is key to attracting more customers to your stock and securing more deals. ‘You should aim to adopt a new mindset when it comes to online marketing,’ he explained. ‘You have to move on from the mentality of simply doing one big thing, by doing lots of little things better. ‘By doing so,
Dermot Kelleher in full flow
You have to invest time with your customers from the very start
you’ll find the entire business function runs much more smoothly.’ Kelleher explained that understanding consumers and the way they work is the first step to ensuring your stock is at the top of their ‘to-buy’ list. Using data from Motors.co.uk – the world’s largest automotive services company, which lists more than 300,000 used cars for sale from nearly 5,000 of the UK’s leading automotive retailers – car buyers spend approximately 459 minutes searching for their next car online. And what’s more, 15 per cent of consumers now use their mobile phones as their primary shopping product. ‘We know that modern car buyers hunt down their ideal vehicle using numerous car search sites, and it’s important to make sure your stock is there waiting for them,’ explained Kelleher. ‘To make sure you’re at the very top of their search list, you have to be a mobile-friendly dealership – you can no longer rely on customers to pinch and zoom when they visit your website. Your site needs to be user-friendly and quick and simple to use.’ Providing dealers with some food for thought, Kelleher listed a few areas where dealers can increase their online presence for little cost. By simply adding more images to an online advert, dealers could see an increase of up to 180 per cent in customer click-rates. ‘By adding five more images to your advert, you provide potential customers with confidence in the vehicle you’re selling, as well as more reasons to come and look at it in person – it’s a small change, which can achieve a significant effect.’ Kelleher also touched on the time taken to respond to customer inquiries during his presentation, urging his audience to be on the ball. ‘You have to invest time with your customers from the very start,’ he explained. ‘Consumers on Motors. co.uk expect a reply within 24 hours, while 27 per cent expect a response within one hour. ‘It’s important to be aware of this. ‘To deliver the best possible experience, you need to focus on personalising each of your customer interactions, and speed matters,’ he added. ‘Be human, be flexible and be quick.’
HPI: Write-offs, repos and other cons
atch out for gangster grannies! That was the message from vehicle provenance specialists HPI at #CDX15. The next time a kindly elderly lady arrives at your dealership with a low-mileage, regularlyserviced car for sale, she could be the head of a notorious family of criminals who are involved in clocking cars and arranging multiple finance deals. Her son could have given her the car to front, knowing she looked innocent and trustworthy, and you could end up in a whole heap of trouble. A worst-case scenario, maybe, but it’s worryingly easy for dealers to get caught out when taking cars in part-exchange. That was the message from HPI managing director Neil Hodson. Hodson explained that two of HPI’s favourite sayings were ‘never trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and ‘beauty is only skin deep’. ‘One in four cars on the road today has a finance agreement recorded against it. That’s a substantial risk if you’re a dealer or consumer,’ he said. ‘And don’t let mileage discrepancies ruin your reputation. This is a risk because with PCPs and customers facing financial penalties when they hand back cars over a certain mileage, guess what, there’s a growth in the number of people clocking cars before returning them to dealers or finance companies. ‘Mileage disclaimers on their own aren’t enough to protect you. There are various things that we would recommend you do. Firstly, conduct a mileage investigation – it’s a good defence mechanism if you are investigated by trading standards. ‘And if you are suspicious, getting a signed declaration from the owner of the vehicle you are going to buy is another way of defending yourself.’
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
CAP: Know Your Customers
Philip Nothard addresses his audience
here’s no question that social media is a vital tool in a dealership’s armoury these days – but Philip Nothard, retail and consumer editor at CAP, had an interesting take on the subject during his workshops at #CDX15. He reminded his audience that ‘people and products are core’ and urged them: ‘Don’t get carried away by being on social media 24/7. ‘Consumers are becoming a lot more time-poor. They want things to be a lot more efficient. But do they actually expect us to be available 24/7? If a consumer emails you at 11 o’clock at night, you don’t necessarily need to open up a dialogue then – it depends on your business.’ Nothard explained that the conflict for many dealerships was that they wanted to provide a prompt and timely response to customers, but had to bear staff welfare in mind too. ‘Recently, a few more dealers are starting to close on a Sunday – and they have found that it hasn’t impacted their businesses,’ he observed. ‘They are doing other things to attract the customer. They’re highlighting their positive
reviews, they’re making sure their website is customer-friendly and that when they get a query in, they answer it in reasonable time. They don’t necessarily have to be there seven days a week. If you try to give a little bit back to the staff, you might get more in return.’ Nothard acknowledged that customers were receiving a lot more information during the car-buying journey these days, adding: ‘We are putting values and insight into the consumer market but we’re trying to supply the same information that we’re putting into the trade so there is transparency between the two. And of
course, we’re trying to give customers the right information. We don’t want them arriving at dealerships with inaccurate information because that would create an issue.’ Nothard touched on a range of other subjects during his presentation, urging his audience to consider a PCP approach to selling used cars; saying that buyers were actually looking for pre-reg cars as a purchase option these days; and noting it was becoming more and more difficult to work out what ‘typical spec’ meant owing to the increase in the popularity of personalisation options.
Consumers are now becoming a lot more time-poor
RAC: The Power of Customer Reviews
hink Checkatrade. Think Trip Advisor. Customers are now accustomed to going online to tell the world about how they have been treated by businesses. And if car dealers believe the best way to cope with a poor online review is to look the other way and hope it goes away, they are missing a trick. Mario Dolcezza from the RAC, pictured right, told delegates that reviews – good and bad – have to form part of every dealer’s marketing strategy. And the 64 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
review system must be embraced by the automotive industry, whether they like it or not. ‘Let’s be honest – customer reviews are happening already and we need to be a part of it,’ he said. ‘We just can’t afford to ignore any review. Even negative reviews can serve a purpose if they help to improve your service. ‘Of course, we all want to make sure the customer journey is a great journey, because then we know the customers will keep
coming back. But we know there will be some negative reviews. We have a period of grace to allow dealers to respond to those reviews. It’s not about recrimination, it’s about addressing a negative. It’s a powerful tool. ‘If someone complains that the dealer said they would replace a mud flap and didn’t, the dealer can respond and say sorry, that it was an oversight, that they will go to the customer’s home or place of work and replace all the mud flaps. ‘The dealer can demonstrate their commitment to the customer journey. No-one expects a business to get it right all the time – but how they deal with complaints says a lot about them.’
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
Finance and FCA regulations
t’s now more than a year since the Financial Conduct Authority took over regulation of the consumer credit industry from the Office of Fair Trading. The auto industry viewed the change with a fair bit of trepidation – the FCA, we were told, wasn’t afraid to flex its muscles and was itching to make an example of someone… and quickly. But that hasn’t happened. Yet. So what has the industry learned over the past 12 months or so? Black Horse put on a Regulation Workshop at the conference, to investigate. Paul Brotherton, Black Horse’s head of business strategy, improvement and support, said: ‘On April 1, 2013, the FCA replaced FSA, then one year later the regulation of the consumer credit industry transferred from the OFT to the FCA. That was just the start of the process, which in the long run will sweep away the 1974 Act and replace it in its entirety with principles-based regulation and FCA rulebooks. ‘One year on and the FCA talk about significant progress, although there remain issues. Martin Wheatley, the chief executive of the FCA, has talked about a sector “that’s beginning to appreciate the importance of placing consumer outcomes at the centre of debates around business strategy”, so we need to think about this as just the start. We need to do more. ‘Treating customers fairly morphed into something the FCA call “retail conduct risk”. It soon became
clear it wasn’t just about a change of regulator, it wasn’t just about getting your interim permission and then authorisation, it wasn’t just about putting your policies and process structures in place. Just complying was no longer enough – this was the beginning of a cultural change. ‘The FCA expects customers’ interests to be at the heart of how firms do business. I think it’s fair to say the FCA is more enforcement-led than previous regulators, it has more powers, and it uses them – it talks about using forwardlooking, judgement-based regulation. ‘When the FCA issued its Consumer Credit Rulebook, it was more principle-based, so firms were not required to just follow the rules, they also had to follow the spirit of them. ‘What are we required to do, as lenders? The FCA expects us to take reasonable steps, to have adequate oversight to ensure dealers acting on our behalf comply and act in the spirit of the relevant consumer credit regulations and the Consumer Credit Rulebook. ‘The key theme through all of this is customers. Their needs are changing and their behaviour is changing – rapidly. As lenders, we all must focus on the impact technology is having on customers’ research and consider how this becomes an opportunity for dealers to engage with customers early in the buying process. ‘Investment in tools which will enhance customers’ digital experience is vital. These should provide transparency, value and control and should enable dealers to generate leads and potential sales. Ultimately, the full digitalisation of finance fulfilment is inevitable.’
iVendi: Understanding your digital customer
ore than 2,000 dealers across the UK use the e-commerce products supplied by iVendi – and the company’s chief executive, James Tew, was among those sharing his expertise at #CDX15. iVendi supplies e-commerce products that make vehicle selling easier for dealers; vehicle buying easier for buyers and vehicle finance easier for all. And Tew’s workshop showed delegates how to use small amounts of personal data to build a comprehensive picture of each of their prospective customers in order to better meet their needs. For too long, the online customer has been largely anonymous, but that no longer needs to be the case. iVendi carried out an experiment during which they tried to collate the consumer ‘digital data trail’ by finding out who had made online inquiries and viewing their publicly-available social media feeds and finding out about other websites they had visited. After all, with the increasing influence of the internet, consumers are becoming more empowered than ever – but dealerships are quite often in the dark about who is checking out the cars they have for sale. However, when customers make inquiries, they enter a lot of information to online forms which can be used as a basis for a little investigation work. Tew said: ‘We can build up a picture of the consumer, their family, where they live, what car they drive – it can all help to personalise the customer journey.’
James Tew CarDealerMag.co.uk | 67
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DASHBOARD. CAR DEALER CONFERENCE & EXPO 2015: WORKSHOPS
CitNOW: Using video to sell the modern dealership
n this day and age, earning a customer’s trust can be quite a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Dealers can build relationships with their customers by simply communicating with them more, according to Alistair Horsburgh, chief executive of CitNOW. CitNOW works with 1,500 dealers in the UK to help their customers make faster and more confident decisions about the cars they’re interested in purchasing by emailing them a short video clip. ‘Video is a crucial tool in today’s hectic and time-conscious market,’ explained Hosburgh. ‘If you’re not using video then you’re behind the curve.’ Horsburgh informed his audience at CDX15 that a video camera, even if it’s one on a smart device, is one of the greatest boons in the motor trade, helping to provide customers with a greater, more personalised insight into the car they’re looking at. ‘Using video, aftersales technicians can give
potential customers detailed condition reports of the vehicle, pointing out any areas which require attention, while sales staff can focus on the key functions that fulfil a customer’s buying requirements,’ he said. ‘Not using video in the sales or aftersales process is a mistake.’ According to CitNOW, 40 per cent of UK franchised dealers use video, helping to increase the trust and transparency between the sales team and the consumer. If you’re a franchised dealer and you’re not using video, the chances are you’re likely to fall behind. For those dealers who believe video is too timeconsuming, Horsburgh said: ‘It doesn’t matter if your video is 15 minutes or one minute long,
they’re designed to achieve the same goal: sealing more deals. Our research shows a 15-minute video will increase the chances of making a sale by 75 per cent, but a one-minute video can have the same impact.’ In a world where consumers prefer to shop online, it’s important to bond with your customers and personalise their buying journey as much as possible. Video has proved to be the ideal way to do this. Horsburgh reminded his audience that it’s important to make customers feel loved. ‘Customers want to know you’re taking an interest in their enquiry and are dedicating the full 100 per cent of your time to making sure their experience is as satisfactory as possible,’ he said.
Manheim: Right stock, right channel, right profit
aking sure you’ve got the right stock on your forecourt is one of the most important aspects of running a dealership. After all, without the right cars, how can you run a successful used car dealership? During his presentation at CDX15, Jonathan Schwartz, head of buyer development for Manheim UK, explained how dealers can maximise their profit by making the best buying decisions and making the most of online auctions. ‘It’s important to be aware of the current trends in the market, the migration to online auctions, as well as understanding the buying decisions of modern car buyers,’ Schwartz said. ’Around 50 per cent of transactions are made online and, as a result, physical auctions are
steadily declining.’ As dealers switch to the web to source their stock, they’ll find themselves saving time and money. But without seeing the car in the metal, how can dealers be sure they’re buying the right products for their customers? The answer is simple: do the research. By finding out which cars your customers are searching for and the market’s current hottest specification packages, dealers will know exactly which cars to buy and
precisely the right time to buy them. To help dealers make more informed decisions when it comes to purchasing stock, Schwartz provided his audience with a range of Manheim’s top buying tips. ‘There are too many dealers out there who aren’t focusing on vehicle retail demand,’ he explained. ‘Customers are asking themselves “I know what I want to buy, I know what it’s worth, but where should I buy it from?” – the trick is to know exactly what they’re Jonathan looking for and make sure Schwartz they find you first.’ CarDealerMag.co.uk | 69
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FEATURE. INVESTIGATION: UNRAVELLING THE VALUATION PUZZLE
All hail the
How do those men in their ivory towers come up with the used-car values that dealers study so avidly? We sent COLIN CHANNON to the back of beyond to find out...
o, I asked the wise old motor dealer, who has more years in the business than Baggott has gold air-mile cards (and that’s a LOT), please tell me: Just how do those trade bibles come up with their used-car valuations? ‘Ah, young truth seeker,’ he answered (yes, he spoke funny), ‘that is a fine, fine question. It is said that the managing directors of manufacturers and the big bosses of the franchised dealerships get together on sacred ground in Battersea at midnight and dance naked under a full moon. ‘The age of the virgin they slaughter as the clock chimes for the 12th time decrees which cars are valued higher than others….’ Now, okay, I’m just a local hack, and I love being on the trail of a good story as much as the next journalist. But I couldn’t believe this. Come on, it can’t be true. Sacred ground in Battersea? It’s too full of office buildings and traffic jams to have any green space.
So this truth seeker’s quest for the facts began. It took me to far-flung parts (well, Leeds and the outskirts of London) but I got there. I now have the knowledge. And, dear reader, I am prepared to share it. But be warned – it’s nowhere near as exciting as sacrificing virgins… I learnt it’s all to do with market forces. The public holds the key. Not manufacturer bosses. Not dealerships chiefs, or those sales people on the shop floor. No, the ordinary motorist. Mr and Mrs Average. The great unwashed. If the public across the land suddenly decided a three-year-old Vauxhall Insignia was worth £3,000 and wouldn’t pay a penny more – and dealers found they couldn’t shift it for more than that, no matter what – the trade bibles would reflect that. Fortunately for the manufacturers and dealers, the public are a pretty sensible bunch. They know value when they see it. And they also know when they’re being asked to pay over the odds. So the bibles reflect that.
I visited Glass’s in Weybridge and sat down with their head of valuations, Rupert Pontin, then trekked to Leeds to discuss things with Dylan Setterfield, the senior forecasting editor of CAP. On the following pages, we go into detail how both come up with their figures. One thing was very clear – they go to tremendous lengths to come up with their figures. They both believe their system is better than their competitors, and come up with the reasons why. I was also interested to discover which cars are likely to fare well in the next 12 months or so – and which may struggle. Their answers were quite a revelation… Glass’s felt Audi may struggle, because it wants to claim more market share, and wasn’t sure it had the balance right between being a premium brand and a volume brand. CAP disagreed strongly, and expects Audi to continue performing well. So let’s look at some of our other questions – and some of the answers…
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FEATURE. INVESTIGATION: UNRAVELLING THE VALUATION MYSTERY PORSCHE
The high-end brand has hardly ever put a foot wrong, says CAP
The ‘glossedup Toyota’ marque is near to being seen as a premium brand, says Glass’s
The German manufacturer is looking for an eight per cent market share this year.
We quizzed Glass’s and CAP over how they set the values of used cars and this is what they said...
The joke a few years ago was Skoda was a skip on wheels. Now it’s a prized car. How long would an improvement like that normally take to feed through the system? Glass’s: It’s market driven, but it does tend to take a period of time. It can be between seven and 10 years to take what is a very bad manufacturer to being a very good manufacturer. And with Skoda, it probably took that kind of time period. But let’s remember, Skoda put a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort into it. Take a different manufacturer. Take Lexus as an example. It’s a glossed-up Toyota. It has taken some years, probably seven to 10 years again, to get into a position where it is genuinely accepted as being almost a premium brand. It’s not quite there. CAP: Fiat have improved – the cars they are producing now are way better than 10 years ago. When we saw the 500X, we put that at the top of its competitors’ basket, recognising it’s a healthy prospect. Alfa started down that route, with MiTo and Giulietta. They gained momentum, but the next model they were going to produce, Giulia, never happened because the bosses decided it wasn’t different enough and sent them back to the drawing board. That was almost three years ago and it’s not here yet. It can take a while for a manufacturer to see their reputation increase and their used-car values improve. It’s all to do with the quality of the product. Kia and Skoda have both achieved this – just remember what people thought of their cars
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a few years ago. And then there’s Audi. A lot of people say they want to aspire to be like Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But it took Audi 15 or 20 years to get to the position they’re in now. It’s not something you can do overnight. A lot of brands have tried and failed to be considered alongside those brands. It’s not easy. It takes a long time to build a brand, but you can destroy the credibility of a brand much more quickly. The steps Kia and Hyundai have taken have been accelerated by the advances they made that tied in with the scrappage scheme. It was fantastic for them, and they built on that, and now they’re supplying good-quality cars, highly specced and at competitive prices. And warranties play a part in that, too. Look at Kia. They announced they had no doubts about any of their cars and introduced a seven-year warranty – they were saying we are producing a good car and we are standing behind it. There was no financial benefit of that, but it was a gradual brand perception and got people looking at the brand who otherwise might not have done. It promoted the brand significantly. Who will be this year’s stars? Glass’s: Jaguar is going to be an enormous success over the next couple of years. People love the Jaguar brand, it’s fantastic. It’s interesting that the man who was behind Audi through all those years of expansion, Jeremy Hicks, is now at Jaguar Land Rover. He knows what he is doing.
And you look at what’s happening at Mercedes, who are becoming more prominent in the market. Who’s sitting there? Gary Savage. He was at Audi, too. They’re taking what they learnt at Audi and taking it elsewhere. Everything is cyclical, and the concern is that Audi have just got to that point where they’ll have too many cars in the market and the demand will come away. People want something that is different. Today’s buyer is all about different. CAP: Jaguar will have a good year – the XE is a very good car, and there’s the refreshed F-type. Porsche know exactly what they’re doing and hardly ever put a foot wrong. It will be interesting for Honda – it’s a big year for them. I think they need to be a bit bolder than they have in the past, and the signs are that’s happening. So who, in your opinion, will struggle? Glass’s: Vauxhall, because of their product desirability, and Audi, because of their volume aspirations. Take Audi. Really, really good news, have been for years and years, But how many vehicles are Audi putting into the marketplace this year? They were 6.5 per cent market share last year. BMW were six per cent. Mercedes were five per cent. They’re the premium-batch vehicles, the premium marques. Audi have said they’re going for an extra 1.5 per cent share this year, taking it
GLASS’S: HOW WE DO IT
A lot of time, money and effort was spent on to achieve its phenomenal turnaround
The Italian manufacturer’s cars are much better now than they were 10 years ago, says CAP
People want something that is different. Today’s buyer is all about different.
and look slightly more modern. The Insignia was a big departure from Vectra when it came out. I don’t agree with Glass’s over Audi – they’re no worse than BMW or Mercedes. I don’t think they’ll struggle. If you have good cars to sell, and people want to buy them, where’s the problem? It’s difficult for the French manufacturers, because the French market has been so subdued, and that’s their major route to market. Renault took action a while ago to reduce the product line-up and the number of cars made available in the UK. Citroen are clearly trying to do something different with the move to split DS, but that will be a little fragmented as for years you’ll have Citroen DS on the used-car forecourt, so it’s a bit more difficult to get the brand message over.
up to eight per cent. Volkswagen were at 8.7 per cent last year, so that puts Audi really as a volume manufacturer. Now there is concern among the trade that there are too many Audis in the marketplace. If there are too many Audis, what’s going to happen to Audi? They’re going to drop in value because you get to that critical mass. For me, this year Audi is a worry, and for a lot of the trade, because there’s going to be so many of them out there and they’re looking to increase market share. CAP: Vauxhall are in a bit of a transformation period. I think they suffer in comparison with Ford, comparing the Insignia with the Mondeo, and the Astra against the Focus, the Corsa against the Fiesta. The Ford cars tend to be better to drive
Why are Ford number one? Glass’s: They’re very cute. They’re a big company producing lots of vehicles with a good level of quality, and they have an interesting level of design. They have been very cute in asking customers what they would like to see in their vehicles, their designs have been very attractive, where, for example, Vauxhall’s haven’t. Vauxhall’s designs have been less well received than Ford’s. I don’t know why, but we see it in the values. As far as the trade is concerned, the look of some of the new models isn’t brilliant. The new Corsa was meant to be all-new, all-singing, all-dancing, very attractive... but put it next to the Fiesta and what’s the more attractive? The trade says the Fiesta, and the Fiesta
We make on average 1,682,671 retail observations daily which, once duplications are removed, equates to a real-world figure of 557,904 per day. In addition, there are 150,000 trade observations – an observation is an example of a particular car that has been sold at auction or through a wholesale remarketing channel. We work very closely with the National Association of Motor Auctioneers, and they give us a feed of all their data. We use that data as the basis of how we value a vehicle. I have a chief car editor, two used-vehicle editors, two forecast editors and three assistant editors. The editor looks at the data that has come from the observations into our valuations system and combines that with dialogue with manufacturers, leasing and contract hire companies, auctions, small businesses, franchised and non-franchised dealers, Fred the Shed who is operating from the side of the road, and anybody who might buy and sell used cars. We will run through a process where we have perhaps a two-week period where we would do very focused valuation and we then produce the data, and in the other two weeks I’d be expecting those guys to be out knocking on doors, sometimes cold calling, just turn up at a dealer or an auction, and it’s their job to research and understand what’s going on in the marketplace. We have a policy meeting once a month to review all the data and observations, and we discuss what has gone on. That’s globally. To be specific… Our valuations system is a bespoke piece of kit written to operate on a primary-andsecondary basis. It currently contains 53,600 different models and that goes up every month, because manufacturers produce new models. We have data from 1992. How do we decide what is primary and what is secondary? Let’s take for example a Vauxhall Insignia. They have perhaps 500-odd different diesel models. We have a look at all the observational data on all those 500-plus models and we find the vehicle that has the most observations each month. Bingo. That’s the primary because that’s an extremely strong reference point. At that point we attach all the other Insignias as secondaries, and we decide it’s worth that there, that there, that there, so we have a curve that is that shape… and we apply that depreciation curve to that primary model because it accurately reflects the value that ties in best as possible with all the observational data available. We then apply that curve to all the secondaries so they’re all operating the same. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 73
FEATURE. INVESTIGATION: UNRAVELLING THE VALUATION MYSTERY is two and a half years old. It shouldn’t be that way. CAP: Manufacturers have to keep improving to stand still, because everyone else is improving. Ford are still producing good cars, they’re great to drive and almost all of their range has been refreshed. It’s all about product. No-one can afford to have a dud. Do manufacturers come to you for advice on what a car should have to ensure future good residuals? Glass’s: Manufacturers will have an idea of a new model and they want to put it into a particular market sector, so they will invite my new car forecast editor to go and have a discussion with them and look at a very early pre-production version of the vehicle. They’ll say it will have electric windows in the front, keep-fit windows in
the back, it’s not going to have alloy wheels and it will have part-leather seats, at which point they will say, ‘We’re going to ask £25,000 for it. What do you think?’ We would give an opinion – no, you need electric windows in the rear, you need full leather seats and you can get away with bin lids on the wheels, and you need to ask £26,500 for it. They’d ask us for an opinion on what we felt, and they’d go off, make some decisions of their own based on profitability and then invite us to the actual launch and say ‘Here’s the car, this is what we’ve decided on’ and away we go. CAP: Manufacturers do come and meet our CAP Consulting experts, who get involved at a very early stage of models of cars. They do Residual Value Optimisation Reports and will advise on the UK market, or across the various European markets, on what should be on the vehicle and what approach needs to be taken, and even down to individual brands and what is needed to improve, But they are independent to us.
What might happen is, say, for a facelift they suggest how the premium model might fare over the current model. They may say the new model will be worth £2,000 more than the current model, and they’ll come to us to sense-check that number – and we might say that £2,000 is a bit strong, it may be more like £1,000… We get involved about six months before the model comes out and by then the specification has been pretty much finalised. Marketing obviously plays a part in brand perception, which in turn makes a difference to what a car is worth. Could you get a good valuation based on how good your advertising campaign is? Glass’s: Yes, it will have an impact. You’re creating a brand awareness and a desire for that brand, and that feeds all the way back through the marketplace. You’re not going to get a higher residual value for something you can’t sell. There are ways a manufacturer can support a vehicle, but essentially if you haven’t got a market for that new car through the used-car network, you’re
CAP: HOW WE DO IT WE give customers access to all our data and the supporting evidence behind all our decisions, so every time we make a change to an existing forecast or introduce a new vehicle, there is a commentary to say what we have done and why we have done it. We have a new and used Gold Book forecast from 12 months to 60 months, and we have another product called Black Book Plus, which does nought to three months. This gets used in a couple of ways: this car has been on my forecourt for a while, so if I reduced the price does that make sense? Or a customer’s buying a new car and wants to trade in his old car, and there’s a lead time on the new car, so you don’t want the used-car value today, you want it in 12 weeks’ time when the customer takes delivery of the vehicle. We now have Black Book +12. 74 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
There was a gap between three and 12 months, so we are launching a short-term forecasting product that does nought to 12 months. That’s a live, researched product, not an algorithm, with a dedicated editor in charge. The market was asking us for expertise and at the end of November 2013 we published the first Gold Book. It was well received, and the IQ transparency product has been very successful, especially with manufacturers. Under Monitor, you’d get a gradual reduction in value over time, with a nice smooth curve in value. In reality, unfortunately, I don’t think there’s ever been a car that has followed such a nice neat curve. We look at a deflation curve now – an actual market measurement. We don’t do just one number for the overall market, we segment it.
You could work out the figures and draw one line through them all, but it wouldn’t be truly representative as there is not one consistent difference, because they react to different things. The one-year market is sensitive to short-cycle business, while the three- and four-year market is more closely matched to leasing returns, and cars on three- and four-year contracts always have a big impact on supply of cars into the used marketplace, and when you get to five-year plus, it’s perceived as an old car. That doesn’t mean the older cars fare worse. In early 2013, five-year cars were actually doing much better in terms of year-on-year percentage change compared with the other sectors. That’s all to do with supply and demand. If there is a shortage of four-year-old cars, there’s more demand.
stuffed. You can only force it for a short time. Unless the customer wakes up in the morning and says ‘You know what? I really fancy that Skoda, I’m going to buy one’, you can have the new-car end pumping cars into daily rental, pumping cars into contract hire and leasing companies, and getting bums on seats, but when it comes to the end of the three years, and they flood out to the dealerships, and the dealers say ‘We don’t know what to do with it, no-one wants to buy this’… There is one way they’ll buy it, and that’s cheap. So how do you do it? Let the dealers sell them cheap and the manufacturer through the back door pays a bonus and says sell 50 of these in a month and you’ll get so much – that’s not uncommon, that’s how the business works – but you have to start somewhere. Doing it that way, it will not get you becoming an ‘it’ brand, though. You have to get a draw from the customer. I’m sure there are examples where a less well-built vehicle is worth more than a better-built vehicle because the market hasn’t understood it, or the manufacturer has not got that message across to the end user. Take some of the less-well-known brands, such as Mitsubishi or Subaru – the Subaru Outback
It’s all based on supply and demand, and it doesn’t take much to upset the balance. didn’t sell in great volumes but it was actually a fantastic 4x4 car with stunning performance. But you might find that it’s worth less at 10 years old than a Ford Mondeo – and there are millions of them – because people think they’re a good family car. But nobody’s tried the Subaru, and they should have done because it’s a better car. It all comes down to how they got it across to the end user. CAP: It’s all based on supply and demand, and it doesn’t take much to upset the balance. For example, if a new car is launched and there are too many models around and they need to be sold before the next batch arrives, they’ll be sold more cheaply to clear the forecourts for the next cars. But as the supply and demand stabilises, there may be more demand for the number of cars available, so the price goes back up again. Often, the highs and lows flatten out over time. In the same way it takes seven to 10 years to get a Skoda from a skip to a prized car, how long does it take to go the other way? Glass’s: You can do it much quicker than that, you really can. If you were a newly-emerged brand, I think you’d find yourself back down very quickly. BMW could probably bring out two generations of dogs before people would say ‘This really isn’t very good, I’ve had enough of this…’ But BMW would probably listen to the
We don’t just split it by age, we split it by the different vehicle sectors. We’re much more granular – we’re not broad brush. Because it matters. We get our figures from all the major auction houses – and most of the smaller ones – leasing companies and daily rental companies, manufacturers, dealer groups, large remarketing operations … from all over the place, and increasingly more retail data. We’re up to 550,000 retail records a day at the moment. The start point from our forecast is always the Black Book value. That’s one of our big strengths – we are confident, and so are our customers, that our Black Book values are accurate. Some organisations will sit down in the middle of the month and review data from the past month and be making decisions on the
numbers they publish for the next month, so some of their figures will be two months out of date. Ours is updated every day. We still publish a monthly number, but that book number is purely a snapshot on the deadline date. Every day, the editors’ first job is to go into the system and see all the cars that are better or worse than three per cent from the target figure. They are all flagged, and they look at every one and the reasons behind it. Each range has a master vehicle, which is normally where we’d see the most sales. We then add the other specification models and then do the same for engines, trim, body style, transmission and other features, such as satnav or panoramic roof. That gives you a value for the whole range and we break down every car by date, mileage or derivative. The Black
marketplace and change things. With a good brand, you’ll get away with one or two. There’s no timescale. Your customers will carry you for a while. There’s a lot of brand loyalty out there for the prestige brands, like BMW and Audi. What we have now is the direct-debit generation, and that has changed the face of newcar buying. At the moment it’s affecting the smaller cars because they’re the really cheap ones, and the young drivers think most cars will drive the same, they’ll choose one that does 50mpg and off they go. PCP is a great way to buy a car… well, rent a car, you’ll never actually own it, unless you get to the end of the three years and want to buy it. How accurate are your figures? CAP: In December 2014, the first time we could compare our figures from our predictions a year before, our figures were within 1.6 per cent. Almost every major sector was within three per cent, while the customer expectations are that we will be plus or minus five per cent. Since then, things have improved. In January 2015, we were within minus 0.04 per cent. If we had publicised that, people would probably have accused us of cheating! In February and March it’s an average of well under one per cent in all the major sectors. If you’d offered me those figures when we launched the products, I’d have ripped your arm off. Glass’s: Our customers consistently tell us our current prices and our RV predictions are the most accurate to which they have access and, crucially, there are no obvious weaknesses. However, what we can say is that in terms of key metrics during recent months, our figures have been more accurate than our key competitor based on monthly auction prices and overall, we were about a fifth closer to the hammer price with a 103.5 per cent value compared to our trade observations. [CD]
Book guys are trying to come up with a price that this particular car, on this plate, with this mileage, in this condition would sell for if it was sold tomorrow. We also look at the condition of every car. Gold Book iQ is our transparency product, delivered through CAP Connect, which was originally designed as a demonstration tool to show what we could do online for customers. It gives people the same information as they see through our Windows product. Within Gold Book IQ, we go into more detail about how we come up with the values. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 75
Toyota Auris Toyota brand manager Richard Lacey says attracting conquest customers will be key if this facelifted Focus, Astra and Golf rival is to fulfil its potential What makes the Auris stand out in this massively competitive sector? There are three big players in the segment. Golf, Astra and Focus. Our ambition is to be next best. Those three take about a 60 per cent market share in the UK C segment, so we have to establish ourselves in fourth place behind them – and that’s where we’ve set our share ambition. Our main USP and way to get people into the Auris is through the hybrid – which is our big push – and we know where we conquest buyers from, the conquest for the hybrid is much higher than with conventional drivetrains. In terms of growing and competing with the big three manufacturers, that’s where we see our gains coming from. We really want to push hard with the conquest message going forward. Who is your target buyer for the Auris? In terms of hybrid there’s a bigger weighting towards fleet, naturally, because of the BIK benefits that come with it. We’re seeing more and more retail buyers buying hybrids as well. Where we’re trying to conquest from is the French brands, the Korean brands. The market’s slightly in favour of fleet, but we’re more 50:50. The press materials talk a lot about a jump in quality with the facelift. What is that in response to?
It’s more bringing it in line with the segment in general. The current car is performing very well, but for us to be a serious player in the segment and to really challenge the top three, rather than just sit in that fourth position, then we obviously benchmark against the likes of Golf. So that’s where a lot of the investment went. With the new Activ grade we’re lowering the price point in terms of hybrid accessibility. We’re doing more and more activities to try to think about how we structure the Auris range to really capitalise on the opportunity that’s there. Can you reveal what the target sales figure is for this year? 19,000 is our target for 2015. For 2016 it depends on what our market forecast is as it’s done on market share. We planning to grow share by 0.1 per cent and go from 5.3 to 5.4 per cent. Based on current market forecasts that will take us to about 19,200 units. Do you have allocation figures for dealers? No, we set dealer targets at the start of the year, but we have a free supply situation.
Dealers can call down stock from our central stock as required. So they can overachieve if they want and request additional production from the factory. Given our relationship with TMUK in Burneston, we have quite a lot of flexibility within that. What has feedback been like to Toyota’s hybrid models so far? Our key strength in the hybrid is that it is one of our strongest models in terms of advocacy, loyalty and customer recommendations. In the UK for Toyota only, we’re probably approaching 120,000 hybrids sold, so hybrids have become mass market almost. One of the biggest hurdles we have is getting people from manual to automatic transmission with the hybrid. Are dealers marketing the hybrid in a different way to conventional models? Not necessarily. Dealers can do what they want to some extent, but we are encouraging them to promote hybrid because of that conquest benefit.
The Auris may be one of the most unexciting cars you can buy, but is it still a worthy WHAT IS IT? The Auris is a sensible five-door medium hatchback and estate, which is available in petrol, diesel and petrol-electric hybrid form. Two petrol, two diesel and one hybrid model are available, with buyers able to choose from five specification levels. Despite a facelift for 2015, which has updated the Auris’s styling inside and out, this Toyota remains inoffensive rather than striking and is likely to appeal much more to those who follow their head than their heart. It’s not the cheapest car you can buy or the most exciting.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? Petrol buyers can choose from a weedy 1.3-litre unit or a much more punchy turbocharged 76 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
1.2-litre model, which produces 114bhp and accelerates to 62mph in 10.1 seconds – making it the fastest Auris – while being capable of up to 58.9mpg. Those after a diesel have the choice of a 1.4-litre 89bhp engine or a 110bhp 1.6-litre unit, which lags just behind the 1.2 petrol in the acceleration stakes and returns fuel economy of up to 67.3mpg, falling into the £20 annual car tax band. Most economical of all is the 1.8-litre hybrid, which is capable of up to 80.7mpg – matching the 1.4-litre diesel, while offering even lower claimed emissions – with both 1.4 diesel and hybrid qualifying for free car tax.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? Entry-level Active cars get air conditioning,
electric front windows and Bluetooth, with hybrid models gaining 15-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up to Icon trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen media system with digital radio, reversing camera, electric rear windows and front fog lights. Meanwhile, Business Edition specification offers a touchscreen sat-nav system, cruise control, and heated front seats, while identically priced Design trim includes 17-inch alloys, tinted rear windows, cruise control, and different seat upholstery. Rangetopping Excel spec, on the other hand, features a more sophisticated sat-nav system with voice recognition and WiFi hotspot functionality, plus a park assist system, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and heated part-leather seats.
The Auris is still bland to look at, but the facelift has made it a bit sharper than before.
Despite Toyota’s claims of increased quality, the interior is still a pretty dreary place to be.
UNDER THE BONNET
Petrol, diesel and hybrid options are all available. Affordable petrols make the most sense.
family transport option? Christofer Lloyd finds out WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The predicted bestseller – the hybrid – takes some getting used to, with the engine screaming away furiously should you need to accelerate at all briskly, while not providing much in the way of performance. The 1.2-litre petrol, however, is much more impressive, providing a strong spread of power across the rev range and a slick gear change, with little in the way of noise or vibration. The hybrid does come into its own around town, when it can often run solely on electric power, in near silence.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK? What Car? said: ‘The Toyota Auris is a decent car that should be painless to own. Unfortunately for
Toyota, though, there are much, much better cars in this class.’
WHAT DO WE THINK? Toyota expects that more than half of buyers will opt for the hybrid Auris – and while it is a unique proposition among its immediate rivals, it is not he most appealing Auris, weighing in at £2,400 more than the punchier, more refined and more relaxing to drive turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol. It also isn’t tangibly more appealing than models from rival brands. The Auris is comfortable, refined, easy to drive and reasonably economical in both petrol and diesel form. The Auris is by no means a bad car, but several rivals cover many more bases for a similar outlay.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model:
Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid Excel Price: £25,095 Engine: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, electric motor Power: 134bhp, 142Nm Max speed: 112mph 0-60mph: 10.7 seconds MPG (comb’d): 72.4mpg Emissions: 92g/km
TARGET BUYERS: Town drivers after an economical hybrid model
Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Nissan Pulsar, Skoda Octavia
KEY SELLING POINTS: 1. Hybrid hatch and estates available. 2. 1.2 petrol is both punchy and refined. 3. Relatively strong level of standard kit.
DEAL CLINCHER: For anyone after a comfortable compact hybrid, it fits the bill. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 77
Mazda CX-3 PAINT JOBS
The car is available in nine colours including Mazda’s new Ceramic Metallic paint.
Model: Mazda CX-3 2.0 120ps 2WD SE-L Nav (as tested) Price: £19,595 Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol Power: 118bhp, 204Nm Max speed: 119mph 0-60mph: 8.8 seconds MPG (comb’d): 47.9mpg Emissions: 137g/km
TARGET BUYERS: Premium brand customers looking for a change.
Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka, Renault Captur, Fiat 500X.
KEY SELLING POINTS: 1. Stylish coupe-like looks. 2. User-friendly cabin, nicely designed with a quality finish. 3. Impressive levels of safety equipment.
DEAL CLINCHER: The sense of style that will appeal to so many. 78 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Across the range there are heated, powerfolding door mirrors, coming-home lights and body-coloured handles.
Sweeping A pillars and coupe-like profile give the car a sporty stance on the road.
The latest addition to the Mazda line-up is the CX-3 crossover. WHAT IS IT? In a nutshell, it’s a small SUV from Mazda, which the company hopes will help it achieve record-breaking sales figures for 2015. With a flurry of new vehicles arriving in showrooms this year (the new version of the company’s iconic roadster MX-5 will be with us a bit later) they could well pull it off. However, CX-3 doesn’t have the compact SUV segment to itself. Don’t bet against Mazda though. There is a bit of a buzz around the brand at the moment and the CX-3 should do well. It arrived in showrooms last month.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? Buyers have a choice of one diesel and two petrol variants. Offered with either 118bhp or 148bhp, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre petrol engine is predicted to
account for around 60 per cent of UK sales. Available in all five trim levels, and in both manual and automatic guises, the 118bhp engine with frontwheel drive powers most of the cars in the line-up. However, at the top of the petrol range, the 148bhp engine is matched exclusively to all-wheel-drive and is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox in Sport Nav trim. Having made its debut in the all-new Mazda 2 supermini, the 104bhp SKYACTIV-D 1.5-litre diesel engine completes the engine line-up. As with petrol versions, front-wheel-drive versions make up the majority of the range, although a four-wheel-drive version is offered in the top trim level. With CO2 emissions from just 105g/km, the front-wheel-drive SKYACTIV-D has an official combined economy of 70.6mpg.
Can Mazda hit the sweet spot with the new CX-3 in the same way they did with CX-5? Managing director Jeremy Thomson hopes so . . . We gather that 2015 would be Mazda’s best-ever year if the company could sell more than 51,500 cars... It’s around that number – and it would be quite interesting if we did. When we were last doing 50,000, the company was in a very different position. When I think back to 2001, the launch Mazda 6 was £1,000 cheaper than a Mondeo. Today’s Mazda 6 is priced closer to the VW range with the appropriate level of spec. The brand has moved a long way in 15 years. And you’re attracting customers from premium brands these days... With CX-5 in particular, we’ve had twice the inflow from premium brands than we’ve had for any previous model. It just shows that sometimes you hit the sweet spot with a new product launch. Even within the company, we talk a lot about the magic that has made CX-5 such a success for us. Not in terms of matching a car such as Qashqai for volume, because we don’t operate in quite the same way. It’s a car that has very little consumer spend in terms of offer and almost no marketing and yet we have reached a critical mass where we sell every single car we can get and have done for four years. I’m hopeful the CX-3 will do that as well. What about timing? Is CX-3 arriving at the right moment? With CX-5, we arguably came quite late into the
segment, whereas with CX-3, we’re coming in at the beginning of the story. Having something that’s visually distinctive, and that stands out in quite a congested segment, is crucial. I think we’ve got a stunning-looking car. Are dealers impressed with the levels of equipment in the car? The high level of equipment is absolutely intentional and a little bit different from premium brands who typically do the opposite. Their cars are very under-specified and buyers spend a lot of money to specify them up to the level they want. We think we need a proposition that is a no-brainer. We need to make Mazda an obvious, clear-cut choice. We don’t want them to have any reason not to purchase our cars. Any features that stand out with CX-3? Well, when it comes to specification, we do it in two ways. One is the infotainment, the connectivity, the sat-nav that is updateable free of charge for three years whereas other manufacturers maybe charge you a couple of hundred pounds every time you renew it, but also on the safety front. We have very high levels of safety equipment.
Turning to the dealer network, we understand that 20 per cent have the new brand identity... So far! It changes by the day. I’d say about 60 per cent of dealers have got the interior only completed, 20 per cent have got interior and exterior completed. It’s all about making the car the star. For a long time, showrooms have been quite cluttered, windows have become full of graphics, the lighting has been legacy lighting from various decades.... What’s going on now is a real clean sweep that’s right at the forefront of modern retailing. It allows consumers to really appreciate the cars in a great buying environment. But more important than that, we are talking to our dealers about the way they engage customers, and make the buying experience more dynamic. Our dealer training is very much focused on dealers helping customers understand the Mazda difference. CX-3 will draw people to Mazda who may not have thought about us before.
Is it any good? Dave Brown reports WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? Generous. This really is where Mazda scores highly, especially in the areas of tech and safety. Entry-level SE cars come with 16-inch alloy wheels, power-folding door mirrors, ‘coming home’ lights and manual air-con. We liked the seven-inch colour touch screen, and the car has a great-sounding audio system with six speakers, CD Player, plus the usual iPod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Safety-wise, there’s hill-hold assist and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Move up the range and more goodies are thrown into the mix, of course. A lane departure warning system, smart city brake support and rear privacy glass are added at SE-L level, while a smart keyless entry system, head-up display, digital speedometer and
reversing camera are included in range-topping Sport Nav models.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? We had a spin in the car expected to be the bestseller, the 118bhp 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive petrol version in SE-L trim and were pretty impressed. Cabin refinement is good, the car holds the road well with minimal body roll and the engine is willing and responsive. A three-and-a-half-hour tour around the Scotland-England border country flew by and even after such a long drive, we exited the vehicle without any aches, pains or tiredness. Design-wise, it’s certainly a good-looker, but we thought the dash looked a tad drab and the readouts lacked a little clarity.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK? Motoring Research said: ‘Mazda has nailed it with the CX-3, creating what can certainly be described as a sporty crossover.’ Auto Trader said: ‘It’s expensive to buy and not practical enough, so before you get one, make sure you prioritise style and fun above all else.’
WHAT DO WE THINK? Mazda should have another winner on its hands with the CX-3. We were told that the company received ‘an incredibly rich mix of pre-orders’ before the arrival of CX-3 in showrooms, with 80 per cent for the top-spec Sport Nav. And with a car as accomplished and likeable as this, it’s not hard to see why. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 79
Hyundai Tucson We chatted to Tucson product manager Jamie Woods to get the lowdown on the Hyundai Tucson and find out about the company’s sales expectations The crossover market is massively competitive. What makes the Tucson stand out? Certainly in this segment, design is hugely important. It amazes me how high design comes as a purchasing factor. Obviously, you’ve got to get everything right, the price right, the features right, you’ve got to get the CO2 right. You’ve got to have all the ingredients, but if everything stacks up, quite often it comes down to which car people like the look of most. So, what makes it stand out for me is its design. I think it is a very striking, stand-out design and that is what it set out to achieve, because you can’t produce something that’s generic. Certainly the engineering counts, too, and that encompasses many things. So that would include all the safety equipment, so there’s a lot of active safety equipment to be found on this car. You’ve got the blind spot detection and autonomous emergency braking. I think those features are really beneficial if you can show how they benefit customers.
The Tucson is not a direct replacement for the ix35. Can we expect a new ix35? No, the ix35 will be discontinued and you have Tucson as its replacement, but the point is that it’s not just a new ix35, it’s a whole new car. We’ve described it as a step change, so there’s a big, big difference from ix35 to Tucson. Different remit too. The remit is still the lifestyle C-segment SUV, so the appeal sits in that space, so it’s similar dimensions – slightly longer, slightly wider and a bit lower. People like the high riding position, they like the design, they like the space and practicality. It ticks all the boxes, but you’ve got with this car a wide range of engines so long gone are the days when C SUVs equalled high CO2. You still get the economy elements from this type of vehicle. It seems like the CO2 figures lag behind off-roader rivals. Is that correct? Yes, but we’ve got the 1.7-litre diesel that will probably be the biggest seller and that’s 119g/ km CO2. As long as it’s below 120g/km that will appeal to the fleet business.
It seems like Hyundai has steered away from making a ‘sporty car’. Handling certainly has been addressed, because it’s an SUV and you can’t ignore that. You have to look at the handling as well as the ride, but certainly ride comfort is certainly what people look for in this market.
Christofer Lloyd delivers WHAT IS IT? This medium-sized off-roader slots below the seven-seat Santa Fe in Hyundai’s line up, offering a practical, solid interior, a wide range of engines and plenty of high-tech kit. The Tucson is no rough-and-tumble off roader, but buyers can opt for four-wheel drive models, which will no doubt be able to take them much further off the beaten track than they ever need to go. Hyundai’s latest model is available from £18,695 and offers much more striking styling than the ix35, along with strong refinement and comfort levels and generous interior space, claims the company.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? Two petrol and three diesel engines will be 80 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
The 1.7-litre diesel seems slow compared to more economical alternatives. That’s why there’s a wide range of engines. Obviously you want people to go in and test drive a car and that’s hugely important. We’re saying test drive it, if you want more power, you can go to the 2.0-litre diesel. Regardless of that, you still expect the 1.7-litre diesel to be the bestseller? Yes, I would expect that. Who is the target buyer? It’s about 52 per cent fleet, 48 per cent retail. The target customers are the loyal customers who have bought ix35s and want to stay with the brand and a younger, more affluent audience, which is why we’ve got a much wider range of engines to choose from. Pricing does go up to £32,345. Can a Hyundai crossover persuade people to part with that amount of money? Yes, absolutely. I look at the overall market and see where volumes are and the percentage of volumes in the price brackets and we see there is an opportunity for this top-spec car for those people at the top end of the market who say: ‘I want everything.’
his verdict after putting available. Most economical is the 1.7-litre diesel, which offers claimed fuel consumption of 61.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km, placing it into the £30 annual car tax band, though it requires a lengthy 13.7 seconds to amble to 62mph. Next in line is a 134bhp 2.0-litre model, which slashes three seconds off the benchmark acceleration time while still being capable of returning 58.9mpg in two-wheel drive form. Car tax, meanwhile, weighs in at a reasonable £110 per year. A more powerful 2.0-litre diesel with four-wheel drive is also available, offering similar performance but fuel economy which falls below 50mpg. Petrol buyers, on the other hand, can choose from 1.6-litre engines with and without a turbocharger.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? Hyundais typically include plenty of standard kit and the Tucson is no different. Entry-level S cars include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, reclining rear seats and automatic headlights, plus Bluetooth connectivity and a digital radio. SE trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, rear parking sensors and heated front seats among other kit, while SE Nav includes an eight-inch touchscreen sat nav system with a reversing camera. Premium spec further adds 19-inch alloys, leather upholstery, electric front seats, heated outer rear seats, automatic wipers and front parking sensors, while rangetopping Premium SE features cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and glass roof.
The Tucson manages to successfully mix sleek lines with a stockier 4x4 profile.
Despite its huge list of standard kit, the Tucson doesn’t feel as upmarket inside as it should.
THE KNOWLEDGE UNDER THE BONNET
Engines vary from weedy 1.7-litre diesel to powerful turbocharged petrol and diesel units.
Hyundai’s new medium-sized off-roader to the test WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? As a family-oriented off-roader, the Tucson places comfort above roadholding, offering a smooth, comfortable ride, but providing little satisfaction when driving quickly. Both the most powerful diesel engine and the turbocharged petrol model that we tested provide adequate acceleration when worked hard, though they can sound a little gruff and can’t mask the Tucson’s substantial weight. As a result, the equivalent units under the bonnet of the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai feel more sprightly, with higher refinement levels to boot. The Tucson’s suspension, however, does do an impressive job of ironing out bumps in the Tarmac, and little road or wind noise makes its way through to the cabin. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox,
available on the turbocharged petrol, meanwhile, is reasonably responsive, though it can’t match the smoothness or speed of Volkswagen’s ‘DSG’ equivalents.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK? Honest John wrote: ‘The new Tucson is a capable, competent and comfortable choice of family car that represents real value for money.’
WHAT DO WE THINK? The Hyundai Tucson should prove an attractive prospect to those after a practical, boldly styled and relatively affordable off-roader. It is comfortable, quiet when cruising and packed with standard kit, whichever model you go for.
Model: Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi 185 4WD Premium Price: £28,945 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel Power: 182bhp, 400Nm Max speed: 125mph 0-60mph: 9.7 seconds MPG (comb’d): 47.9mpg Emissions: 154g/km CO2
TARGET BUYERS: Value-focused buyers after a stylish road-oriented 4x4.
Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage.
KEY SELLING POINTS:
1. Huge amount of equipment as standard. 2. Comfortable, relaxed driving experience. 3. High refinement levels.
DEAL CLINCHER: Top models are full of luxury kit including heated rear seats. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 81
SsangYong Tivoli Paul Williams, the CEO of SsangYong Motor UK, is delighted with Tivoli. And he says there are some big plans in the pipeline... You chatted to Car Dealer at the Geneva Motor Show and you said then the TIvoli would be game changer for SsangYong. So.. is it? Yes, it is going every bit as well as we hoped it would. Of course, it’s still early days – the first ones arrived in May, and it only went on sale in June. But the early figures have been very good – we’re pleased. And now you’re on TV, too. The TV ad is going well. You must have seen it – the little drones flying around the car, and then going inside. We wanted to make the ad very different. Most car ads are the same – nice images of it somewhere attractive, pictures of it in action, an aspirational couple in there somewhere – it could be any one of 20 brands. We wanted ours to stand out. Isn’t SsangYong’s main problem one of awareness? Not many people have heard of the brand... And the TV ad is helping there, too. Let’s be honest, awareness is always going to be an issue for the smaller brands – we just don’t have the budget. Saying that, we are spending three times more on marketing this year than we did last year – and people have noticed the TV ad. We’re taking the car along to shows and exhibitions and events, and people are saying ‘oh, that’s the
car on the TV...’ It’s working. So the marketing plan is working – people are recognising the car, and they’re recognising the brand. We still have some work to do, as there isn’t one simple fix, but we have plans in place. TV is undoubtedly helping us achieve that. Are sales numbers good? Yes, they are. In percentage terms, we’re selling 300 per cent more cars now than two years ago. Okay, when you’re talking smaller numbers, the percentages look more impressive, but we’re planning on selling 2,000 Tivoli models in the next 12 months – and we’ll achieve that. What’s exciting is that Tivoli is a reason for people to visit our dealerships, but once they are there, other models catch their eye, so we’re seeing increased sales right across the range. We sold almost 400 cars in June, including commercial vehicles, substantially more than a year ago. Are you still looking for more dealers? In Geneva, you said you hoped to grow the network. Plans are still in place. We have 60 dealers now, and we’re looking for 65 by the end of the year. There will be a bit of change, because as well as taking on new dealers, we’ll be losing some along the way. The present dealers are excited about the future, and several of them are investing in bigger and better facilities, and more personnel.
So on to the Tivoli. What makes it so special? It’s a very nice car. It looks good, drives well, and the interior is very attractive. That’s why we wanted the drones in the TV ad to go inside the car and to concentrate on that – it’s a quality environment. I saw some research which showed drivers spend about three years of their life inside a car, and if they’re going to be in there for that period of time, we might as well make it a decent environment. Most people who have seen the car have been surprised by the quality of the interior. It’s stylish and oozes quality, it has a leather trim, and you can buy it for £14,600. No-one else gets anywhere near that quality for the money. You told us before that SsangYong has plans to bring out a new model every year until 2020. Is that still the case? Very much so. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Korea to see the plans for the next 24 months or so, and to see some of the models we will be bringing out. Obviously I can’t go into too much detail now, but I’m very excited. We’ll also be introducing an SUV into a sector that we are not currently involved in. We have a lot of work to do, but things are looking good for us. I think in the future we’ll look back at this moment and see it as a pivotal time for the company.
We handed over a Tivoli to COLIN CHANNON and told him to go off on a long drive. WHAT IS IT? It’s the latest offering from SsangYong, the oldest car manufacturer in Korea, don’t you know. And if you’ve never heard of SsangYong, the company suits hope that will change as it embarks on its biggest publicity campaign ever, including TV ads (you may have seen it, with little flying drone things zooming inside and outside the car). The Tivoli was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, and the bosses then said it would be a game changer for the firm, as this was a quality SUV the industry would have to take seriously.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? Now this is confusing, so pay attention – there’s a 1.6 petrol version, and a 1.6 diesel version. And 82 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
that’s it. There’s a choice of six-speed manual and automatic ‘boxes, The 4WD models have a torque-on-demand 4x4 system, so in auto mode it remains in two-wheel drive but when sensors detect a potential loss of grip, it switches to fourwheel-drive mode. No customer is going to get confused with power options – this is simples!
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? We had the EX model, which includes as standard a rear-view camera, heated leather front seats, dual climate control, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. The ELX asdds push-button starting and front and rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. The interior is neat and tidy without assaulting the
senses with buttons galore – and the top-of-therange ELX allows you to change the colour on the instrument cluster. Feel calm, have blue; in a rush, go for red. Or yellow... The ELX also includes sat-nav.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? There’s a glut of SUVs on the market, so something has to be good to stand out from the crowd. SsangYong hasn’t really set the pulses racing with its other models, and it suffers from a lack of awareness in the market – goodness, if Kia says only 40 per cent of the UK’s car-buying public have heard of its brand, what’s the figure for Korean rival SsangYong? One per cent? Two per cent? And that’s a bit of a shame, because
Leather seats, leather steering wheel, leather gear knob – cattle everywhere will hate it...
It’s modern and elegant – it’d look okay sat outside the family home...
Make it a quiz: how many of your friends will recognise the SsangYong emblem?
Model: Tivoli EX 2WD Price: £14,600 Engine: 1.6 petrol manual Power: 126bhp Max speed: 106mph 0-60mph: 11sec MPG (comb’d): 44.1mpg Emissions: 149g/km
Here are his impressions of the new kid on the SUV block the Tivoli is a good car. It drives very nicely – okay, it may lack the finesse of a Suzuki Vitara or the striking, stand-out looks of a Cactus, but it’s a very solid proposition. Some models out of Korea look... well, a bit basic and boxy, but the Tivoli doesn’t look half bad. The rear-view camera as standard on two of the three models is a nice touch. but it would have been better if parking sensors were standard, across the range, too. And in this day and age, why launch a completely new model with no digital radio, when you’re appealing to families? But we digress. It’s a very comfy drive, the manual gearbox is crisp, it accelerates very adequately and the ride is smooth. There’s plenty of room for five adults inside, and there’s a plush feel to the interior, with leather trim as standard in the EX and ELX.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK? Autocar says: ‘It may not have the character or the standout price of a Dacia Duster, but the Tivoli isn’t far behind that model as a value champion. SsangYong hopes the new car will double its UK sales volumes over the coming year... it deserves to do nothing less.’ Auto Express says: ‘The Tivoli isn’t the last word in quality but it handles neatly, offers lots of cabin space and looks good.’
WHAT DO WE THINK? It looks pretty good, drives pretty well, and has lots of goodies – it’s certainly not the worst car out there. Would customers choose it over betterknown models? Debatable – but it deserves a slice of the ever-increasing SUV market pie.
TARGET BUYERS: Families on a budget who want a roomy SUV
Nissan Juke, Citroen C4 Cactus and the Suzuki Vitara
KEY SELLING POINTS: 1. For an SUV, it’s very good value 2. Plenty of room inside for adults, kids and the shopping 3. You get a lot of kit for your money
DEAL CLINCHER: As an all-round package, it represents good value CarDealerMag.co.uk | 83
Weâ€™ve developed the Black Horse Roadmap to help you navigate the changes the industry is facing and use them as a catalyst to grow your business. The steps we take today will help build a sustainable platform for point of sale automotive finance. Letâ€™s navigate the future together.
YOUR FUTURE. OUR ROADMAP. Find out more about our Roadmap for point of sale finance at blackhorse.co.uk/dealerportal or contact your Account Manager. 84 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
s technology develops, it pulls every part of the sales process into its ever-growing net. We must embrace it and use it to its full advantage. DMS has been around for years, but, what does it mean to dealers today? It is far more than just keeping customers’ details safe – it can mean the difference between selling a car or not! Can dealers really get by on using bits of paper and a Rolodex to keep up-to-date with what is going on in their dealership? Not any more. There are tools and systems that you can now use that will open up new areas of revenue, improve your customer service and even do some of the admin work for you. Do not overlook the importance of dealer management software. Maximising the success of a modern dealership takes more than just good sales people and shiny stock. But how can DMS help you? Keep reading over the coming pages and we, with the help of DMS specialists, will tell you. Over the next few pages, we have highlighted some of the best in the business that offer far more than just an online database. These companies offer dealers the chance to keep a very close eye on everything that is happening and of course help you sell cars and make more money. And that’s what it’s all about, after all. So don’t hesitate to call these companies and find out how they can help you run a more effective business.
Coming up.. Dragon 2000
P86 The benefits of a powerful, integrated system that avoids data repetition but is still intuitive and easy to use.
Company’s future vision focuses on enhancing the customer experience by making life easy and straightforward.
A company that works closely with its customers to make sure all their requirements are met.
Smaller dealerships can take advantage of technology that was once the preserve of the big boys.
Dave Brown (@CarDealerDave) Production Editor
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 85
Seamless integration gives DRAGON2000
T: 0845 838 2000
ragon2000’s Dealer Management System offers a single point of data entry right from the initial prospect enquiry through to the vehicle sale, a service or parts enquiry. All with seamless integration between a Dragon2000 website and the DMS providing instant stock updates to their website, stock broadcasts to advertisers, as well as live receipt of sales and service enquiries, all received directly into the heart of Dragon2000’s powerful CRM. Couple all of the above with award-winning integration into Sage50 accounts software and their class-leading customer support helpdesk, it is little wonder that Dragon2000 has been awarded Dealer Management System Of The Year two years running by readers of Car Dealer Magazine at their annual Power supplier awards in 2014 and 2015. INTEGRATED WEBSITES This year Dragon2000 have established their own website design department and are now able to offer first-class web design services to their customers. And because the website is built inhouse by Dragon2000, they are ‘live linked’ to the Full Dealer Management System. Mark Kelland, Dragon2000’s commercial manager, picks up the story. ‘Having a linked website and DMS gives our dealers a real advantage and single point of data entry. Stock is instantly live on the website, as soon as it is keyed into Dragon2000. When deposits are taken, the car is marked as reserved and when the vehicle is sold, the car is automatically removed from the website.’ Dragon2000 also transmit the vehicle details to all the dealers’ chosen advertisers, without the need for any re-keying of information. Another key advantage of having both website and DMS with Dragon2000 is that website enquiries arrive live into the CRM
within Dragon2000. All customers’ information – including their part-exchange details – arrive in the CRM in real time, so a salesman can act. There is no need to re-key data and all CRM activity is monitored and traceable. There is no reliance on re-keying an email received from a website or fear of lost communication through spam filters. Customers can also book in their vehicles for an MOT or for service work from the website, and again the information arrives directly into a pending enquiries area within the workshop program, so a service advisor can deal immediately with the enquiry. ‘All our websites are modern and responsive, meaning they automatically re-size to mobile phones and tablet devices,’ added Kelland.
Having a Dragon2000-built website with live integration to our DMS system gives our dealers a real advantage, managing advertising and enquiries in one place – the DMS. 86 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Dragon2000 believe they have added another major innovation to their product that no other company offers – and judging by the number of website orders taken so far this year, Dragon2000 customers can also see the benefit of having a single point of data entry for DMS and website alike. VEHICLE HEALTH CHECK APP Dragon2000 have also released their own Vehicle Health Check app to their customers – and unlike many of Dragon’s competitors, the VHC app is available at no additional cost. The app can be downloaded to a phone or tablet on an Android or IOS platform. The health check app can be used in appraising vehicles within the workshop, highlighting any issues or important work that need attention. The health check is sent direct to the Dragon2000 DMS and either added to work in progress or flagged for further attention. A customer-facing condition report can be printed off, highlighting any defects. Kelland says: ‘We’ve been impressed by the
dealers the edge
Customer success stories HAMMOND CARS are based in Great Yarmouth and Ipswich, and became users of the Dragon2000 software in 2009. They have recently added a Dragon2000built website to their existing Dragon2000 DMS to take advantage of integrated data. Instead of maintaining their stock on their website separately, with the Dragon2000 car sales website the moment they create a stock vehicle in the Dragon2000 software, it is instantly updated on the website. The dealer management system handles all the onward stock advertising broadcasts to Auto Trader, Motors, eBay, Piston Heads and the other main advertisers. Being able to action website enquiries quickly is imperative, and Hammond Cars achieve this by having both the DMS2015 dealer management system and a Dragon2000 car sales website, as each customer enquiry is submitted from the website and received instantly within the DMS, accompanied by an email alert. Hammond Cars managing director Mark Skoyles said: ‘We are very pleased with our new website – it has been designed to our liking, not just another template, and all our requirements have been met. We cannot thank them enough.’
customer take up and their favourable comments. Where a VHC app is being utilised, we can see there is a clear uplift in workshop revenue.’ Dragon2000 are working on further developments for their VHC app. In the coming months, upgrades will bring even greater sales opportunities to subscribers of their software. CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM) The importance of staying in touch with prospects and customers has never been so important. Customer loyalty is constantly challenged by rival offers and services. Dragon2000 has a powerful CRM that enables sales prospects to be easily logged and flagged for future follow-ups. Salesmen’s diaries clearly show when contact is due. After-sales customers are automatically flagged when service reminders, MOTs or emerging work is due. All customers can be emailed, texted or sent letters as required. The powerful CRM can also be used to query just about any part of your database – for example, highlighting customers who bought vehicles
two or three years ago and are getting near to a finance end date, or for sending special service offers to customers of a certain make or model. Dragon2000 are keen to point out their constantly-evolving software program. ‘We listen to the opinions of our customers, who are encouraged to suggest product improvements,’ says Kelland. ‘We have our own product development management team, who meet regularly to discuss the latest technologies and developments and then plan the improvements and additional features, that we believe will keep our dealers ahead of the field in software terms.’ Dragon2000 have a totally transparent software pricing policy and all software prices are clear to see on their website. Furthermore, customers can increase or decrease their software licences at any time, and are not tied to a minimum contract period. Kelland adds: ‘We firmly believe this level of flexibility gives our customers confidence in our products and services. ‘Our aim is to have a powerful integrated system that avoids data repetition, but is still intuitive and easy to use.’
HIPPO MOTOR GROUP are a thriving new business involving used and prestige car sales, leasing and servicing, based in Blackburn. The sales operation boasts a modern sports and prestige cars showroom. It was vital to be able to manage their prospect enquiries and track their progress, which they are able to do easily within the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) feature. In addition, each salesman has their own appointment calendar to remind them of contact follow-ups, test drives and handovers. Tom Preston, Hippo Motor Group’s managing director, describes Dragon2000 as ‘very easy to use’. He said he finds the stock list, reports and the CRM integration ‘particularly useful’ features. He added: ‘The sales CRM is extremely useful, as we can match customer interests to new stock coming in.’ Hippo have also just ordered two new websites from Dragon2000. Preston also had special mention for the support helpdesk. ‘The response after logging a call is very quick,’ he said. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 87
We’ve changed our name... Kerridge in 1970 to ADP Dealer Services in 2005 to CDK Global in 2015 From
Visit us at: ©2015 CDK Global. All rights reserved. MFH 06-15 V1.0
88 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Neil Packham Vice President, UK Region, CDK Global
Neil Packham, Vice President, UK Region for CDK Global, explains why dealers’ futures are safe in CDK Global’s hands. CDK Global is the largest global provider of integrated information technology solutions in the automotive retail industry and arguably one of the most innovative. CDK’s core dealer management systems give a single view of a dealer’s interactions with its customers, accessible at every stage of the sales and aftersales process. Neil Packham, Vice President, UK Region for CDK Global, explains why dealers’ futures are safe in CDK Global’s hands. Many dealerships might know CDK Global better as Kerridge (or ADP Dealer Services), which opened its doors in 1972 with a vision to bring dealers and their customers together for life. More than 43 years later, CDK Global continues this vision, providing dealers with the insights and solutions they require to enhance their business through efficiency, intelligence and innovation. With valuable consumer intelligence shared across all areas of the business, whether it be sales, aftersales or servicing, customers benefit from a more positive, personal experience boosting CSI and retention. Having universal access to bespoke customer information empowers staff to strengthen relations, improve retention and ultimately bolster profits. CDK Global is already the silent partner in
dealerships throughout the UK – a significant proportion of new car sales are processed by a CDK Global DMS product. However, there is still scope for greater integration, where dealerships with a disparate approach to DMS software are still creating silos of information. CDK Global’s future vision focuses on
A significant proportion of new car sales are processed by a CDK Global DMS product. enhancing the customer experience by enabling easy interaction with dealership staff in a way that suits them. These processes allow the necessary data to be captured, guiding each customer through their buying journey. A clear demonstration of customer flexibility being delivered within a business-boosting structure is the introduction of tablet technology. CDK Global’s tablet-based suite of products for Showroom and Aftersales is an important step in the evolution of the modern dealership.
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 89
Everyone’s a winner GEMINI SYSTEMS
W: gemini-systems.co.uk T: 01522 698911
ow close is your relationship with your DMS provider? Does the company in question really meet your needs, with cleverly-tailored solutions designed to help you drive your business forward? If the answer is no – or you’re having to pause while you consider your response – then maybe it’s time you talked to Gemini Systems. The company is dedicated to the production of class-leading software to all franchised and nonfranchised dealers, as well as related motor trade businesses. And 2015 is proving to be a pivotal year for the firm that promises to go ‘Beyond the DMS’. You might remember our profile on Gemini Systems in the last edition of Car Dealer – and we recently caught up with Martin MacIver, the company’s head of commercial, to find out more about what’s been going on recently. MacIver told us about two new business accelerators that integrate seamlessly into the company’s core DMS products. They are proving extremely successful in helping dealers sell more cars, carry out more servicing and in helping parts operations run more smoothly. The first, Campaign 365, is a fully automated marketing platform that allows dealers to create, send and manage their own HTML email campaigns, in addition to the standard campaign contact avenues such as postal or SMS. It also supports full campaign integration with popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The second is called TechMate which is aimed at digitalising the entire aftersales department, from the welcome to the workshop. At the heart of TechMate is its tablet based clocking module, which uses existing technician eVHC tablets but replaces older technology such as barcode clocking stations. All scheduled and non-scheduled tasks can be managed by technicians and service advisers with real-time integration into Gemini’s Evolution DMS. Clocking on/off tasks is made simple and the software removes the need for anyone to move away from the service bays.
VERY POPULAR EVENTS THE regional customer events Gemini Systems held during June were certainly well-received. Comments from participants feature on the company’s website, with one attendee saying: ‘I just thought I would drop you a quick note about yesterday – terrific! The new products are nothing short of brilliant and their potential for users to improve the bottom line is staggering. I cannot wait to get my hands on them and put them into use.’ The Evolution DMS solution offered by Gemini Systems is supplied in two versions with full support and continuous development to meet the scale and functional requirements of franchised dealers, independents and car supermarkets. The Gemini team certainly go the extra mile when it comes to looking after their customers. MacIver told us: ‘We work hard to make sure the customer is at the heart of everything we do. We have a substantial professional services department which manages on-site installation of our products as well as training. We use webinars and e-learning to show people remotely what we can offer. ‘In addition, we have a user group that meets
The customer is at the heart of everything we do. We have a professional services department which manages on-site installation of our products as well as training. 90 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
twice a year and we get a lot of very good direct input from customers, which is instrumental in shaping our products and development direction. ‘The feeling we get when we talk to people who work with our competitors is that they are not always fully engaged with their DMS vendor. ‘What we try to do is make sure that we actually deliver products and services that are going to be beneficial for them rather than stuff that we just think looks good and sounds good.’ What’s really refreshing to hear when you chat to the Gemini Systems team is the fact they actually get out ‘in the field’ to meet their customers face to face. In doing so, they really find out what their needs and requirements are and what makes their businesses tick. During June, MacIver and his colleagues held regional customer events to talk business with their clients – and they will be repeating the exercise in the autumn because of the ‘fantastic’ feedback they have received. MacIver said: We are close to our customers partly because we’re not a massive company. We’re a team of 30 – so we’ve got a much more personalised relationship with our customers, I guess, than a big plc, where you might not know quite who to talk to. ‘In addition, we are continually growing the business, in terms of our development, support and installation resource, and we have on-going enhancements in respect of our core DMS products and business accelerators. And we’ve got very flexible relationships with third parties and other companies who support dealers. For example, if a manufacturer is pressing a dealer to take certain features or software, we don’t try to fight it, we work with it. Everybody wins then.’ by Dave Brown @CarDealerDave
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Never miss an opportunity TITAN DMS
W: titandms.co.uk T: 0845 235 9907
n a world where technological advancement is at the forefront of every business’s priority list, it’s surprising to learn that these ideals aren’t generally associated with the motor trade. When it comes to monitoring the daily activities of a dealership, from independents to large dealer groups, it’s crucial that the management staff are fully aware of the tasks in hand and how each and every inquiry is handled. This is where Titan DMS enters the picture. With its roots reaching as far back as 2004, Titan DMS was founded in Australia by managing director Matthew Kroll with the aim of developing a next-generation DMS, designed to help simplify and streamline the everyday activities of a working dealership. ‘We began working on Titan DMS in 2004,’ Kroll told us. ‘The first pilots were launched in 2007 and 2008 with our first commercial sale in 2009. In 2010 we concentrated our efforts on refining our implementation and support procedures and we then went live with our route to market. Since then, we have achieved a 12.5 per cent market share in Australia and are currently positioned as the second largest supplier of DMS’s to the franchised automotive network.’ Titan identified that the motor trade – one of the largest marketplaces in the world – was still largely dominated by ageing technologies and a lack of innovation in developing new systems to successfully run a business. The firm’s vision, therefore, was to take a technological approach to creating a single Dealer Management Solution, which is capable of being deployed for markets worldwide, and positively influence the way thousands of dealers run their business. Now, in 2015, Titan is bringing this technology to the UK.
‘Now is an exciting time for Titan DMS as the UK business starts to take off,’ Kroll said. ‘We’ve just completed a two-year period of market research involving smaller dealers as well as larger franchised dealer groups. Having also met with a number of manufacturers, we have ensured that we have a complete understanding of both dealer and OEM requirements, an essential element for any new market.’ Titan DMS develops, maintains and supports a streamlined, next-generation DMS for dealers across the world and is built upon the foundations of the most highly-skilled software engineers, database developers and support personnel in the automotive industry. Focusing on performancecritical and technologically-advanced systems, Titan DMS provides the core strength to any dealership that requires a fully-featured solution to running every aspect of the business. To do this, Titan has developed an all-inclusive, fully-integrated, cloud-based platform for dealers of all sizes to manage and monitor a range of activities including administration, service
Our product is currently being utilised by a range of dealers and we have worked with the industry to further develop the software. 92 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
scheduling, analysis, sales performance, CRM and comprehensive reporting for all departments. This results in a product that is not delivered or sold in segments but as a complete solution with all the tools dealers would require from a best-in-class DMS. ‘Titan DMS is very much a customer servicedriven company,’ explained Kroll. ‘Our product is currently being utilised by a range of dealers and we have worked with the industry to further develop the software. By listening to our customers’ feedback, we have been able to create a cost-effective solution that is easy to use and provides all dealers with the service and support they need to run their businesses.’ Kroll added: ‘In the UK, our team are on hand to train our dealers how to best utilise the system, to provide tools to streamline processes and offer advice on how to utilise the system for their unique business. In the next two years, we aim to be an established, leading provider of dealer management systems in the UK as we are in Australia and South Africa in terms of market penetration.’ Kroll concluded: ‘Titan DMS treats all customers equally by ensuring that subscriptions remain the same regardless of size. We level the playing field through bringing the best functionality to businesses of any size. Smaller dealerships can now easily access systems that were previously only within reach of larger dealer groups. ‘We are an enabler of technology and we are here to effect change.’ [CD]
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Trying to serve proceedings on an errant party
Car Dealer Club lawyers at Lawgistics answer dealers’ legal questions. Join for £39.99 a year to get advice like this when you need it
It is my understanding that the law in relation to holiday pay has changed and I must now pay my employees their commission and overtime while they are on holiday. Is this the case? How do I work out what to pay them, as they won’t be here? Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended) all employees are entitled to annual leave each year of 5.6 weeks. This is equivalent to 20 working days and the eight bank and public holidays we usually have in the UK each year. This is the statutory minimum entitlement. A week is the equivalent to a standard full-time working week, ie, five days. If an employee works a six-day week, for example, they are not entitled to a higher entitlement. You can, however, offer contractual holiday entitlement over and above the minimum entitlement if you wish to. This applies to all employees (not self-employed people) and begins to accrue from the first day of the employee’s employment. Since the decisions in Bear Scotland v Fulton (14) and Lock v British Gas Trading Limited (14), the way in which employers pay holiday pay has changed. Under the EU directive, workers should be entitled to their ‘normal pay’ when taking annual leave. Previously, this was interpreted in national law as meaning the
employee’s basic wage only. However, an employment tribunal ruled this unfair and has deemed that an average of the employee’s overtime and commission should now be included (averaged over the previous 12 weeks) in any holiday pay. It is worth noting that this will only apply to the first four weeks of the employee’s annual leave, as this is the minimum holiday allowance given in the EU directive. The additional 1.6 weeks given under national law and any additional annual leave you give to your employees will not be subject to this ruling. At present it is inferred that this will only be implemented for mandatory overtime, as the ruling states nothing about voluntary overtime (unless regularly worked). However, this may alter at a later date. We therefore recommend that you begin paying employees in this manner, as neither case has yet been appealed against. To stop employees cherry-picking when it is more profitable for them to take annual leave, we recommend you work out an annual average for each employee over a 12-month period. You should then review and renew this figure when the next leave year starts. If an employee begins with you part way through a leave year, then the 12-week average can be used until the employee has completed 12 months of service.
Court sought two fees for one application
Why has the county court asked me to pay two fees for an application to set aside judgment and a stay of enforcement? This has been a recurring theme of late. We have seen many cases where certain courts insist on payment of two fees totalling £310 for what amounts to one application! Anyone who has missed a court deadline for filing an acknowledgment of service or defence and received a default judgment will be required to apply
for an order setting it aside, if appropriate. This is made using form N244 upon payment of the appropriate fee. For general applications on notice to the other party where no other fee is specified, the fee is £155. When making an application to set aside judgment it is usually appropriate to apply for a stay of enforcement at the same time, pending the outcome of the primary application. One application form and one fee was
always good enough until recently. An inexorable drive to make the Courts Service self-funding has led to huge increases in court fees over recent years and some ‘creative’ interpretations of the Fees Rules by certain courts. However, under Schedule 2, Fee 2.7 of the Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2014, ‘Where more than one remedy is sought in the same application only one fee is payable.’ So, if the court suggests otherwise, complain.
Can civil proceedings be served upon a last known address? Yes. The recent case of American Leisure Group v Garrard (2014) EWHC 2101 confirmed that where a claimant has reason to believe that the address of the defendant is an address at which the defendant no longer resides or carries on business, the claimant must take reasonable steps to ascertain the address of the defendant’s current residence or place of business (‘current address’). The claimant can serve on the defendant’s usual or last-known address when the current address cannot be ascertained. However, if reasonable steps aren’t taken then it’s likely that a defendant will succeed in any application to set aside judgment at a later date. An obligation to use ‘reasonable steps’ or ‘endeavours’ means that a claimant should adopt and pursue one reasonable course of action to achieve the desired result, bearing in mind its own commercial interests and the likelihood of success, and which need not be exhaustive of every course available to it. So, in this instance the claimant may, for example, instruct an inquiry agent to try to trace the errant party. If the agent draws a blank, then the claimant will at least be able to serve the defendant at its last-known address and show that it took reasonable steps.
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Dealer drove Porsche 1,000 miles in three weeks and wanted his money back – until Lawgistics stepped in EVERY reputable dealer stands by the cars they sell. But how far do you go? That was the dilemma facing Adam Neath, a 4x4 specialist in Herefordshire. He sold an 03 plate Porsche Cayenne to a fellow dealer on AutoTradeMail and the new owner loved it – he even sent him a text saying how much he was enjoying driving it. However, three weeks later, and with another 1,000 miles on the clock, Adam heard from the customer again, complaining about a gearbox problem and demanding his money back. ‘He did a lot of miles in those three weeks and the indication was that he thrashed it a bit. ‘It seems the fault is a pretty common one, but he was demanding we take the car back and refund him all the money. ‘We’re a reputable dealer and like to have satisfied customers, but we weren’t sure about this one.’ So a phone call followed to those legal eagles at Lawgistics to find out just where they stood. ‘It was great to have someone like them on the end of the phone to discuss this with,’ said Adam.
‘First of all, the customer pretended he wasn’t a fellow dealer and that he was a retail customer, but as he bought the car on a trade-to-trade website we knew that couldn’t be right. And in the end he admitted he was a dealer. ‘We were under the impression – like lots of other dealers – that when we sold to someone in the trade the car was sold as seen. But Lawgistics told us that wasn’t the case. Lawgistics was very good in giving us advice, and a few letters went back and forth with the customer. ‘As I said, we’re a reputable dealer and this is the first time in ten years we’d had anything like this. ‘So I offered to make a contribution to the work on the gearbox and he was very happy with that. ‘In the end we had a satisfied customer and I still did okay on the car. We’re a Land Rover specialist and I trade from home with 20 or 30 four-wheel drives, and it was good to have Lawgistics to call on.’ As a Car Dealer Club member, Adam – who trades under the name Adam V Neath 4x4 Ltd – was able to use motor trade legal specialists Lawgistics to gain vital advice.
LAWGISTICS’ basic membership – which you receive as a member of Car Dealer Club – is a cracking deal, but what if you need something that has extra clout? Larger dealer groups or a dealer embroiled in a big legal battle may require some more firepower, and the good news is that Club members get discounts on Lawgistics’ other packages. You’ll receive a £100 discount off the small business package (normally £695) – perfect for sole traders, a partnership or a small dealer group – and £250 off the professional package (normally £1,295). This is ideal for franchises, a dealer group or a car supermarket and covers all areas of legal law and documentation. There’s a package for everyone with Lawgistics.
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GO TO CARDEALER MAGAZINE. CO.UK/ CARDEALER CLUB
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SMMT Sales Data
Registrations keep on rising – despite Eurozone turmoil And strong demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles helps keep market buoyant
egistrations of new cars in the UK grew seven per cent in the first half of 2015 to the highest half-yearly total on record, according to figures recently released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. A total of 1,376,889 cars were registered between January and June – higher than the previous record of 1,376,565 in the same period in 2004. Buyers’ appetite for British-built cars such as the Nissan Qashqai is on the increase, moreover, with 13.9 per cent (around one in six) choosing a UKmanufactured vehicle so far this year – the highest level in five years. Low interest rates and attractive finance deals, combined with a wealth of new models featuring the latest technologies, have continued to encourage consumers to purchase new cars. June marked the 40th consecutive month of growth in the market with a 12.9 per cent increase in the month to 257,817 units. A significant feature of recent months has been a strong surge in demand for alternatively-fuelled
vehicles, and this was once again the case in June with volumes rising 70.9 per cent. Fleet registrations continue to drive the growth, although registrations to private customers remain strong. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘It is still a great time to buy a new car in the UK, and it is encouraging to see more consumers choosing British models. This is important for the wider economy with 799,000 people now employed across the UK automotive sector, including retail. We anticipate a flatter second half of the year as the market finds its natural running rate.’ Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: ‘Forty consecutive months of car registrations growth along with confirmation of
a record half-year are remarkable achievements and come hot on the trail of the news that the UK automotive sector achieved its highest ever turnover in 2014, giving the industry yet more reasons to celebrate. ‘Despite uncertainty in the Eurozone, June’s figures demonstrate a robustness in the new car market. The challenge now will be to try to sustain this during the second half of the year.’ The top 10 best-selling models in June were, from the top, the Ford Fiesta (12,543); Vauxhall Corsa (9,561); Ford Focus (9,089); Volkswagen Golf (7,575); Nissan Qashqai (7,140); Vauxhall Astra (6,428); Mini (5,551); Volkswagen Polo (5,457); Vauxhall Mokka (5,026) and Vauxhall Insignia (4,478). In the year-to-date figures, the top six cars are in the same running order: Fiesta (71,990 registrations in the first half of 2015); Corsa (50,125); Focus (45,078); Golf (38,261); Qashqai (34,501) and Astra (29,966). Then come the VW Polo (28,980); Audi A3 (25,765); Mercedes-Benz C Class (24,676) and Mini (23,455).
Manufacturers smiling after positive sets of results MOST manufacturers had reason to celebrate when the June registration figures were revealed. With 898,425 vehicles delivered to customers in the first six months of 2015 (up 14.7 per cent), Mercedes-Benz recorded the highest half-year sales figures in its history. The second quarter of the year also exceeded all previous quarters in terms of sales figures. In June, the brand with 96 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
the star handed over 169,616 vehicles to customers (up 19.3 per cent). The company put its success down to the high demand for SUVs and the C-Class Saloon and Estate. Meanwhile, Ford’s total vehicle sales and share increased in June, compared with the same month last year. The company stretched its sales lead over its nearest competitors and notched up the best June sales for more than
25 years. Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: ‘I am delighted that we have consolidated and extended our longstanding UK market leadership.’ Kia set further new sales records in June to deliver its best ever sales performance for that month and also saw its year-to-date sales total reach a new high – delivered by strong demand for its whole range of vehicles.
SMMT sales data Jun/year to date
Most-improved manufacturers in June
SsangYong +279% Jeep +160% Infiniti +131% smart
Worst-performing manufacturers in June Perodua -100% Chevrolet -95% Chrysler -91% Alfa Romeo -24% Honda -8%
SUZUKI -6.90% Figures supplied by SMMT
Marque Abarth Alfa Romeo Aston Martin Audi Bentley BMW Chevrolet Chrysler Citroen Dacia DS Fiat Ford Honda Hyundai Infiniti Jaguar Jeep Kia Land Rover Lexus Lotus Maserati Mazda Mercedes-Benz MG Mia MINI Mitsubishi Nissan Perodua Peugeot Porsche Proton Renault Saab SEAT Skoda smart SsangYong Subaru Suzuki Toyota Vauxhall Volkswagen Volvo Other British Other Imports Total
210 428 93 14,024 148 17,242 1 19 7,466 2,568 768 6,562 33,055 4,394 8,204 104 2,200 918 7,707 5,044 1,240 34 133 3,486 13,055 234 0 7,166 2,142 15,771 0 10,004 1,004 0 6,654 0 5,049 8,135 804 379 245 3,089 9,801 30,022 23,670 4,317 56 172 257,817
% market share 0.08 0.17 0.04 5.44 0.06 6.69 0.00 0.01 2.90 1.00 0.30 2.55 12.82 1.70 3.18 0.04 0.85 0.36 2.99 1.96 0.48 0.01 0.05 1.35 5.06 0.09 0.00 2.78 0.83 6.12 0.00 3.88 0.39 0.00 2.58 0.00 1.96 3.16 0.31 0.15 0.10 1.20 3.80 11.64 9.18 1.67 0.02 0.07
138 570 94 13,503 127 15,052 23 212 7,274 1,931 0 6,463 29,376 4,802 7,198 45 1,792 352 7,260 4,027 1,076 22 134 2,700 11,200 196 0 5,465 1,266 13,524 3 9,684 766 0 6,277 0 5,075 6,477 467 100 239 3,318 8,850 28,304 18,654 3,915 67 273 228,291
% market share 0.06 0.25 0.04 5.91 0.06 6.59 0.01 0.09 3.19 0.85 0.00 2.83 12.87 2.10 3.15 0.02 0.78 0.15 3.18 1.76 0.47 0.01 0.06 1.18 4.91 0.09 0.00 2.39 0.55 5.92 0.00 4.24 0.34 0.00 2.75 0.00 2.22 2.84 0.20 0.04 0.10 1.45 3.88 12.40 8.17 1.71 0.03 0.12
% change 52.17 -24.91 -1.06 3.86 16.54 14.55 -95.65 -91.04 2.64 32.99 0.00 1.53 12.52 -8.50 13.98 131.11 22.77 160.80 6.16 25.25 15.24 54.55 -0.75 29.11 16.56 19.39 0.00 31.13 69.19 16.61 -100.00 3.30 31.07 0.00 6.01 0.00 -0.51 25.60 72.16 279.00 2.51 -6.90 10.75 6.07 26.89 10.27 -16.42 -37.00 12.93
2015 1,078 2,612 496 86,009 732 80,363 4 129 45,483 14,463 794 32,676 177,150 27,653 46,743 609 9,882 5,354 42,248 36,164 6,929 187 778 23,548 74,803 1,670 0 31,304 13,190 83,423 0 57,337 6,192 0 36,840 0 27,327 39,468 3,520 1,355 1,667 17,687 53,945 142,434 120,064 21,156 379 1,044 1,376,889
Year-to-date (YTD) % market share 0.08 0.19 0.04 6.25 0.05 5.84 0.00 0.01 3.30 1.05 0.06 2.37 12.87 2.01 3.39 0.04 0.72 0.39 3.07 2.63 0.50 0.01 0.06 1.71 5.43 0.12 0.00 2.27 0.96 6.06 0.00 4.16 0.45 0.00 2.68 0.00 1.98 2.87 0.26 0.10 0.12 1.28 3.92 10.34 8.72 1.54 0.03 0.08
789 2,957 482 83,761 810 75,122 2,759 1,084 44,090 12,976 0 34,870 173,554 29,919 42,732 226 9,826 1,628 40,849 30,019 5,631 95 564 19,887 63,866 1,204 5 21,408 6,000 70,929 22 57,428 4,640 1 32,064 1 27,342 39,176 2,527 738 1,309 19,726 51,064 141,609 110,666 19,850 432 628 1,287,265
% market share 0.06 0.23 0.04 6.51 0.06 5.84 0.21 0.08 3.43 1.01 0.00 2.71 13.48 2.32 3.32 0.02 0.76 0.13 3.17 2.33 0.44 0.01 0.04 1.54 4.96 0.09 0.00 1.66 0.47 5.51 0.00 4.46 0.36 0.00 2.49 0.00 2.12 3.04 0.20 0.06 0.10 1.53 3.97 11.00 8.60 1.54 0.03 0.05
% change 36.63 -11.67 2.90 2.68 -9.63 6.98 -99.86 -88.10 3.16 11.46 0.00 -6.29 2.07 -7.57 9.39 169.47 0.57 228.87 3.42 20.47 23.05 96.84 37.94 18.41 17.12 38.70 -100.00 46.23 119.83 17.61 -100.00 -0.16 33.45 -100.00 14.90 -100.00 -0.05 0.75 39.30 83.60 27.35 -10.34 5.64 0.58 8.49 6.58 -12.27 66.24 6.96
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TAKING STOCK. Remarketing specialist BCA finds that demand and supply are balanced reasonably well, with conversion rates staying quite stable
Fleet and lease values stay at record levels once again Cars can make more than guide price expectations, but vendors must ensure their vehicles are appraised honestly and accurately, says Simon Henstock
he latest BCA Pulse report shows that the average values in the fleet/lease sector remained at a record level for the third consecutive month as a rise of just £8 was recorded for the average fleet car sold at BCA in June. In contrast, average values for dealer partexchange cars stalled in June, falling month on month by £119. However, values for P/X cars remain at near-record levels – June was the third highest monthly average value ever recorded by BCA. Nearly-new values also declined, although model mix plays a significant role in this sector. Reflecting this, the headline average value of a used car fell by £45 (0.6 per cent) to £7,758 in June. Year-on-year, however, values continue to climb. The average value of a car sold by BCA in June 2015 was up by £282, a rise of 3.7 per cent compared with June 2014. The summer months typically see some pressure exerted on average values, so we are not surprised to see the headline figure drop for the second consecutive month. The most
‘Buyers are continuing to compete strongly for good retail-quality stock.’ significant factor in the current marketplace is that supply and demand are reasonably well balanced, with conversion rates remaining relatively stable. It is also worth remembering that values remain at exceptionally high levels on average, reflecting that buyers are continuing to compete strongly for good retail-quality stock. While cars presented in the best ready-to-retail condition will typically make values in excess of guide price expectations, vendors should not expect similar returns for vehicles in poor or below-average condition. It is important to appraise vehicles honestly and accurately as there is little to be gained by placing over-aspirational reserve prices on poor-condition cars.
Fleet and lease cars averaged £9,727 in June, a rise of just £8 compared with May but enough to establish a new record monthly average value. The five highest average monthly fleet & lease values have been recorded in 2015. Retained value against original MRP (manufacturer’s retail price) was static at 41.89 per cent over the month, with age and mileage broadly static. Average values were up by £279 (2.9 per cent) compared with June 2014, with performance against CAP Clean up by a point and retained value down on 2014 by half a point. Average values for dealer part-exchange cars fell by £119 (2.7 per cent) in June to £4,278, although this figure is the third highest monthly average value recorded. Year-on-year values remain ahead by £305 (7.6 per cent), with CAP Clean performance ahead by a point compared with a year ago. Nearly-new values fell in June, although model mix has a significant effect in this very low volume sector. CAP Clean performance fell marginally to 99.37 per cent.
BCA DASHBOARD Value month-on-month All cars vs May 2015
vs May 2015
2.7% Variance year-on-year All cars vs June 2014
98 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
Avg value fleet/lease
All cars vs June 2014
vs June 2014
Average mileage All cars vs June 2014
Retained value against MRP
Avg value nearly new vs May 2015
Mercedes A-CLASS This small hatchback started off badly but has definitely improved over the years, says ANDY ENTWISTLE
hen launched in 1997, the original A-Class was quite a departure for Mercedes-Benz. Not only was this frontwheel drive, it was the first time it had created a small hatchback. The A-Class was intended to expand Mercedes into new market segments. However, many diehard Mercedes fans lamented this, claiming the company should only be making high-end prestige cars. The design and practicality of the A-Class won it many fans, but the infamous ‘elk test’ – where a Swedish motoring journalist managed to flip the car on test while avoiding an elk – did not do its reputation any favours. More than 1.1 million of the first generation sold, considered to be a great success for the company. However, time has shown the Mk1 A-Class to be less than what customers would expect from the manufacturer. Made during Mercedes’ well-documented period of cost-cutting while partnered with Chrysler, the Mk1 suffers from body rot, poor trim quality and a host of mechanical problems, including a very fragile CVT gearbox and a raft of engine problems, resulting in many being scrapped as a result of engine failures. The W169 came along in 2005, bigger and better built than its predecessor. Some would argue (with reason) that the styling is not as easy on the eye. However, with a larger glass area in the cabin, bigger doors and a larger cabin, it’s found many fans, particularly among those of the older generation. The big improvement is the quality of the cabin and trim. Unlike the original, it’s a proper Mercedes in miniature rather than just a small
car with a Mercedes badge. It drives like a larger car too, insomuch it’s quieter, more refined and smoother. It’s no E-Class, but it has more of a feel of Mercedes of old, rather than feeling like it’s built to a budget. However, all this comes at a price. Although prices started at around £14k, if you wanted any of the extras expected with Mercedes, such as air conditioning, the costs quickly rise and it was quite easy to spec an A-Class well over £20k new – a lot of money for a small hatchback. The car came in the standard Mercedes trim offerings of Classic, Avantgarde and Elegance, with a host of special editions through its life. All models except the base Classic should have air con and alloys, with partial leather appearing on the Avantgarde and full leather on the Elegance. Electric mirrors, remote audio controls, split-fold seats and height-adjustable driver’s seat are standard across the range, but powered rear windows only came on the top spec elegance. Bluetooth and nav were cost options and are relatively rare on the A-Class. If you find one with nav it’s worth paying a little extra as it will stand out and your likely buyer will appreciate this option.
The car came with a raft of petrol engines, from the base 1.5, which is best avoided as it’s harsh and underpowered, to the marginally better 1.7, However, it’s the 2.0 petrol which is best suited to the car. There is also a 193bhp 2.0 Turbo. Confusingly, all three diesel models use the same 2.0-litre diesel engine but offered in different power outputs. The A160 Cdi offered 82PS, the A180 Cdi 109PS and the A200 Cdi 140PS outputs. Economy is roughly what would be expected for the size of car, with the A180 being the pick of the bunch for a combination of economy and power. If you’re going to stock petrol cars, the A170 is the best bet. However, the best stock is the A180 Cdi in Avantgarde trim. Avoid cars with sports seats (rare, but they are out there) and oversized alloys. Silver and gold are a good bet, and buyers like bright metallics.
A TOUCH OF GLASS
The W169 featured a larger glass area in the cabin, bigger doors and a larger cabin in general
Find an A-Class with a nav and it’ll certainly be worth your while shelling out a little extra for it CarDealerMag.co.uk | 99
This is as big as it gets... and with armour plating, you’ll be safe as houses! But how will the extra weight involved affect the experience behind the wheel? ANDY ENTWISTLE reports on a Cadillac Escalade with a difference
nspired by some time spent in the USA recently, this month’s Real Deal is without doubt the largest vehicle we’ve featured in the mag for some time. In Florida, they like their cars big and none comes as big as the Cadillac Escalade. Even by US standards, this is a sizeable vehicle. Aside from some simply gargantuan pick-ups which dwarf our Transits, this is as big as it gets. With size, of course, comes weight and in a game of top trumps, this car is going to have a fairly strong hand to play in this category too. Out of the box, the standard Escalade weighs 2,650kg. That’s before you add options such as fully-electric seats, enhanced in-car entertainment and, of course, armour plating. Yep, that’s right, this is no normal 2011 Escalade, this one has been fully armour-plated by INKAS, a company which specialises in the armour plating of luxury vehicles in the USA.
£48,000 might be a wise investment if you keep questionable company LIBRARY PICTURE
100 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
‘There should be enough power on tap to get you out of intense crossfire.’ And if you are going to travel in an armourplated car, you really can’t afford to do without your fully-heated leather interior, drinks cabinet and enhanced DVD surround sound system... heaven forbid! INKAS don’t specify how much additional weight armour plating adds to the car, but we reckon it would be north of a 50 per cent increase. Not that power is lacking. With a 6.2l 403bhp V8 under the bonnet, there should still be more than enough on tap to get you out of even the most intense crossfire. They do confirm, however, that the armour plating is up to 51mm thick in some places. Yes, 51mm! Clearly, INKAS are expecting more than just a Colt 45. Over and above the already luxurious
spec, INKAS also provide you with two captain’s chairs in the rear and a partition to separate the front and rear compartments (bulletproof, of course). In addition, all seats have security bases, there is an internal intercom, front and rear surveillance cameras and viewing monitors in the passenger area. The Escalade has full perimeter monitoring as well as reinforced suspension, door hinges and bullet-proof glass. We can’t help but think that all this extra weight is going to impact the MPG and handling a little. This will be fine in the States, with petrol hovering around 50p a litre and the roads being arrow straight, but I imagine that trying to escape an attacker in the city of London may be hampered by the sheer size of the car and the fact you’ll need to keep stopping to refuel. Nevertheless, we think it’s pretty cool and if you mix in dodgy circles, then £48k may be a wise investment. If you’re interested, give Freedom of Stafford a call. However, don’t expect them to be happy if you turn up wanting to test its capability to resist small armaments!
RESULTS RESUL LTS T DRIVEN
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Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Online: symcotraining.co.uk CarDealerMag.co.uk | 101
NFDA’s dispute and resolution service receives accreditation. bit.ly/NFDA89
City Auction Group set to introduce weekly sales from October ‘Vendors committing more corporate vehicles to us than ever before’
Be aware of local and regional differences
ity Auction Group’s latest auction saw 300 vehicles sold, with a total value of £2.75 million. The auction results led the market in the first two weeks of June, with 80 per cent of vehicles achieving an average CAP clean value of 98 per cent. Demand was strong for 12 and 13 plates, and small to mid-range vehicles with an average of 30,000 miles. The top five best performing vehicles were: l BMW 316d ES, achieving the highest CAP clean value (118.1 per cent); l Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi, pictured (112.8 per cent); l BMW 320d SE (109.8 per cent); l Jaguar XF 3.0 DS Portfolio (109.7 per cent); l Peugeot RCZ 1.6 THP (108.3 per cent). There was strong demand for hatchbacks, which made up more than half the vehicles, achieving the best price in the top-20 CAP clean list. Overall, BMW dominated the top 20 vehicles, with the
BMW Series variants appearing five times and achieving an average CAP value of 109.3 per cent. Michael Tomalin, managing director of City Auction Group, said: ‘Feedback from our vendors indicates we achieved the best CAP clean values in the market for the first two weeks of June. ‘Our vendors are committing more corporate vehicles to us than ever before with the introduction of further vendors joining the sale programme very soon. ‘We are attracting large franchised dealer groups, as well as leading car supermarkets and independents. ‘Our auction attendance is growing month by month and we are planning to introduce weekly auctions from October 2015, as there is clearly demand in the market to support this.’
Rare Toyota 2000 GT up for sale of only 351 cars. Being sold as part of a A RARE 1967 Toyota is set to fetch a large Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, the 2000 sum of money at an auction in California GT is completely unrestored. Restored next month. examples sold previously have fetched The 2000 GT was made famous after a more than $1m at auction. Initially, the convertible version of it was used in the 2000 GT didn’t see great success, though James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. it showed Toyota was able to create sports Dubbed ‘the Japanese E-Type’, this classic Car dealer May 2015 24/4/15 10:53 Page 1 cars to rival those made in Europe. Toyota was part of a tiny production run
No cowboys. Just Just trade trade professionals. professionals.
hile the benefits of scale and size are appreciated and understood across many business disciplines, have we forgotten about the benefits of thinking locally? With many of us becoming increasingly time-poor, is there still the desire to travel several hours to shop – even if it is for such an important purchase as our next used car? Wouldn’t motorists prefer to buy locally, with a business they perhaps have a history of dealing with? The trend in supermarket shopping certainly appears to be towards smaller local and regional outlets. While no-one would equate the regular needs of our supermarket shopping with buying a replacement used car once every three years (or more…), there is a definite change in the air. Interestingly, in research carried out for BCA’s annual Used Car Market Report last year, being ‘local’ was the third most important factor in choosing a dealership. The sixth most important was ‘have bought [there] before’. Research for BCA’s The Closer View report (also 2014) highlighted how motorists across the country have a range of different preferences when searching for a used car and choosing which dealer to buy from. It suggested that used car buyers often have quite different expectations across the regions, which creates marketing and promotional implications for used car retailers on what they offer in their local markets and at what price. Not only that, but economic performance varies across different parts of the country, in terms of inflation, earnings and unemployment. The critical point is to be aware of those local and regional differences and to be able to respond to them effectively. Wherever they choose to buy, you can be confident that used car buyers will always expect the best possible deal on the exact car they want. And that will never change!
Who is Simon Henstock?
Simon is UK network operations director for BCA. Visit british-car-auctions.co.uk or call 0845 600 6644.
Strictly Trade only (VAT No. and verified bank details reqd). Purpose built 12 acre auction complex . Enclosed and heated auction halls. Fleet Car Sales every Monday & Thursday. Excellent variety of weekly stock from premium sources. Collection of vehicles 24 hours a day. Fixed cost buyer’s premium. Excellent on-site restaurant. Call now for account applications. Brindley Road, Stephenson Industrial Estate, Coalville, Leicestershire LE67 3HG T: 01530 833535 email: email@example.com www.fleetauctiongroup.com
102 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
CarDealerMag.co.uk | 103
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Biker Survives Head-on, GoPro Captures Everything
Highlights Of The Goodwood Festival Of Speed
This is one biker who will be thanking his lucky stars after surviving a head-on, high-speed collision with a huge fire truck. Just watching the video makes us feel dizzy… Visit: sprunl.de/bfc9t
Did you miss out on the raucous, petrolscented four days of fun that was the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed? We have selected 15 of the best photos from the event. Visit: sprunl.de/28it3
Flaming Monster Truck Pulls Off Double Back Flip
Man Doesn’t Like The Police, Jumps On Their Car
While hefty, big-wheeled beasts aren’t really our forte here at SuperUnleaded, we can’t help but admire the balls of Tome Meents, the 11time Monster Jam World Finals Champion. Visit: sprunl.de/e9oag
Apparently violence against police vehicles isn’t just found in GTA. A man in Dartford, Kent was recently filmed taking his anger out on a squaddie car by using it as a trampoline. Visit: sprunl.de/rszpe
Tractor Wheeled Drag Race Bikes Are The Weirdest Thing
Lewis Hamilton Drifts A Mercedes Like Only He Can
Ever wanted to combine your passion of tractor driving and motorcycle racing? Then these nitro-methane powered muddy machines of mayhem will be right up your street. Visit: sprunl.de/piqvf
If you’re one per cent the man Lewis Hamilton is, then you’re still super cool, very rich and a damn good driver. But only Lewis can drift a Mercedes E63 AMG around a track like this. Visit: sprunl.de/i78fu
Lego Creates Miniature Ferrari F40, We Love It
White Van Man Angry At Fine For Middle Lane Hogging
Lego must be one of the longest lasting children’s toys. The Danish plastic-merchants have made a glossy red plastic Ferrari F40. Awesome! Visit: sprunl.de/g28e4
The driver who was fined £940 fine for middle lane hogging claimed he was treated like a ‘common criminal’. Perhaps he should have thought of that beforehand. Visit: sprunl.de/6roy1
ot too much activity with results announcements this month, with only Caffyns announcing its preliminary results. Share prices dipped slightly in the month but are holding up well compared with a jittery FTSE 100 index. Halfway through the year, the motor stocks are holding up well, with all shares increasing in value since the start of the year. The impressive debut of Marshall Motor Holdings, which has seen a 31.5p (21 per cent) increase on the listing price of 149p, continues to demonstrate the appetite for the sector. With a relatively unstable FTSE position given the uncertainty surrounding Europe, the generally UK-based motor shares are probably viewed as a safe haven for investors. Inchcape’s shares showed a modest decline in the month, and while they are 95p (13 per cent) higher than the start of the year, they have fallen 74p from a May high of 894p. This may be because of a slowing-down in the share buy-back programme, which saw only 350,000 shares repurchased in the month, or because of its greater exposure to European economies. Inchcape is the most diversified geographically of the motor portfolio, operating in 26 markets, and can be expected to suffer more from the turmoil in the more significant Russian market (forecast units down 35 per cent to 1,620,000) rather than the modest exposure in Greece (forecast units up nine per cent to 83,000). Caffyns’ share price has fallen slightly from a high of 632.5p before its results announcement and closed the month at 580p, eight per cent lower than the start of the month but four per cent higher than January 1. Consistent with what we saw with the other full-year announcements, Caffyns increased its full-year dividend by 12.5 per cent to 20.25p, having delivered an impressive earnings per share on an underlying profit basis of 78.1p. BCA Marketplace announced in its AGM statement that it continues to trade well and in line with expectations. It confirmed that the adjusted EBITDA, which was anticipated at ‘not less than £80m’ in the prospectus, came in at £82m.
..in association with ASE-global.com
Share prices are holding up well in jittery market UK is proving a safe haven for investors, says Jason Leach Share price movement from January 1 to June 29, 2015
Share price movement from January 1 to May 29, 2015
*movement since admission to AIM on April 2 Financial performance The only results announcement in the month was from Caffyns, which reported revenues up £17.1m to £210.3m, with like-for-like new car unit sales up by 6.6 per cent and used car unit sales rising by 4.3 per cent. Profit before tax of £11.4m was buoyed by a one-off credit of £8.9m in respect of changes to the defined benefit pension scheme, giving an underlying profit before tax of £2.5m, up 14 per cent from the previous year. Operating cash flows were £3.0m and were reinvested in the property portfolio, with further redevelopment of the Eastbourne Volkswagen site announced to the value of £2.7m. Caffyns
BCA Marketplace continues to trade well
operates primarily from freehold properties that were valued in the year at £8.5m higher than the net book value. This ‘hidden’ value in the asset base is not uncommon for the motor sector, and adds to the appeal of the sector, given the relatively positive outlook for the commercial/ residential property sector in the UK. Outlook With the European outlook continuing to be uncertain, the UK remains a safe option for manufacturers to sell their cars. There is increasing evidence of manufacturer targets proving more difficult to achieve during the first half of the year, and this may increase the prevalence of self-registrations in a drive to hit bonus targets. However, the increasing size of the UK car parc should continue to drive aftersales volumes, and the increase in PCP deals continues to help customer retention, which should hopefully offset slower sales in the top line. Transactional activity The main news this month was that Pendragon has aborted its proposed acquisition of Glendale in the USA. In a short Stock Exchange announcement on June 8, Pendragon announced that Lexus had exercised its right to purchase the dealership instead. This will be disappointing news for Pendragon, which had stated that it expected the acquisition to be earnings-enhancing from 2016. However, with goodwill estimated at $21m, it did appear to be a full acquisition price and it now keeps the war chest intact to pursue future acquisition opportunities. BCA Marketplace confirmed its acquisition of SMA Vehicle Remarketing Ltd – a multi-channel seller of vehicles online and through physical sites. The acquisition has since been referred to the Competition and Markets Authority. Board composition and activity/Directors’ holdings There have been no board movements of significance during the month.
Who is Jason Leach? He’s Audit Partner and Managing Director – Professional Services at dealer profitability specialist ASE plc. Read his views here every month CarDealerMag.co.uk | 105
I have a lot of chances to win the league...
p to 2001, the franchised motor trade had 11 busy months, with one crazy push in August. I well remember my first August in the business, a fresh-faced university student still waiting to have the inevitable bitterness and cynicism drilled in to me at a later date. We had 45 Rovers and MGFs leaving the showroom at midnight ( and true to form, an MGF was being brought back to us about 10 minutes later ). With the move to two registration periods, the expected dilution of focus, energy and business from one peak month never materialised. Instead, like the myth of Hydra, two beasts grew instead. Today, the motor trade is more clinical and professional. We never used to worry about payments arriving by month-end or workshop WIP being closed. What’s more, registrations were targeted annually, not quarterly or monthly. However, times have changed and Hydra has now grown 12 heads, with Herculean efforts required to close each month successfully. My sales meetings on the last day of each month resemble the final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth, the actors lining the trench with an eerie silence ahead of the anticipated carnage. The only thing guaranteed at this time is where you need to be at 6pm before you go home. You lose deals, do deals, discover admin cock-ups, dish out and take a few b****ckings, talk to the manufacturer, negotiate with the manufacturer, beg with customers, plead with customers, pray to every religious power known to man and some eight hours later, you get where you get. As I walk home, there is no feeling of accomplishment or general well-being. Then there is the dread that on working day one, I will have the payroll minefield to negotiate. My department is not big compared to some, but our commission structure is more complicated than the Hadron Collider, resulting in error-strewn commission claims. Despite what it may read like, I am not moaning. There is only one Champions League trophy given every year, an Ashes every two years or so, and the Olympics every four. I have 12 opportunities to win the league every year and this is what keeps me going.
‘My sales meetings on the last day of each month resemble the final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth.’
Who is James Litton?
James is sales manager at Mercedes-Benz of Taunton. He always has something to say about the industry he loves. 106 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
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This story isn’t really a badge of honour!
on’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of what follows at all and I have now very much changed my ways. Honest! It all started when I was working at a small independent selling £5,000-£6000 cars. I took an old BMW 330i in part-exchange for a Golf GTI. The Bimmer had an M3 badge on it – stupid. If you want an M3, buy one! Anyway, I forgot to take it off and two days later I sold it. With the badge still on it. The guy didn’t mention it and was happy enough. However, when he came to pick it up, his actual words were, ‘I can’t believe I own an M3!’ I thought, ‘Is this guy really that stupid?’ Well, it turns out he was! I thought, ‘I might be on to something here.’ We had a Seat Leon on the forecourt which had some aftermarket wheels on it and looked a bit ‘racy’. So, off I went to Seat and bought a genuine Cupra-R badge, stuck it on and waited. Sure enough, a day later a couple of boy racer types were kicking the tyres on it and I went in for the kill. ‘Cheap for a Cupra-R, innit mate?’ one of them said. ‘Yeah, it certainly is,’ was my reply, thinking he was going to see through it. But no… the conversation continued. ‘I like it, do finance?” he said. ‘Sure, come inside and we’ll have a chat.’ Now, I didn’t actually say it was a Cupra and he had plenty of chances to read the finance docs and log book, where of course there were no mentions of it being a Cupra. Anyway, he bought it, was happy and off he went a couple of days later in his 1.4 Cupra-R as happy as Larry. A naïve Larry, but a happy one. I never saw him or the M3 guy again, so I kept doing it. Golf ‘GTIs’, Mercedes ‘AMGs’ and even a Civic ‘Type-R’. None of which were genuine cars. Look, if people are that stupid and think they are getting away with a deal, then so what? I just hoped none of them came back after being smoked off the lights by a 1.2 Corsa! Still, if I had sold it, it would have been a VXR! Needless to say, I have mended my ways these days. Still lie about my age from time to time, though!
‘If people are that stupid and think they are getting away with a deal, then so what?’
Tell us your story
Have you something to confess? We’d love to hear your tale of woe. Email the editor (you can find our details on page three) or post them on our new forum – simply type cardealermagazine.co.uk/forum into a web browser and get confessing! CarDealerMag.co.uk | 107
..in association with Traka
Know your customer...
Paul Smith says dealers need to learn everything about the people buying their cars
recently read an article by the BBC’s longstanding global business correspondent Peter Day. Entitled The World Turned Upside Down, it reflects the conversations Day has had with leading business thinkers over the past 10 years. Its central thesis is we are at the start of a post-industrial revolution – an era when the business winners will be those that can precisely meet the needs of many small groups of like-minded individuals. An era of mass customisation. He contrasts the newly-emerging era with the industrial revolution and specifically the founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, who pioneered efficient mass production and mass distribution. To be a successful company then you needed to sell your products to the maximum number of people, whether they were in your home market or around the globe. The techniques of mass production and mass marketing pioneered by Henry Ford are still being played out by big business today. But the nature of manufacturing, in the developed world at least, is changing now manufacturers have worked out that no matter how much they improve production methods, build standardised parts and cut prices through the supply chain, they can never compete on price with the developing world economies. So what, I hear you ask, is the future of making things in the UK and the rest of the developed world? The answer appears to lie in: n focusing on creating systems, machines and services to help us customise products costeffectively; n working more collaboratively to innovate –
globally if necessary; and, of course n listening to customers more keenly to ensure we deliver exactly what they want, when they want it. The final key ingredient is high quality. We must achieve that to differentiate ourselves from the new mass producers. If you delve into the world of manufacturing and industrial automation today, much of the focus is on building production-line machines which are capable of rapid retooling and reconfiguring so products, including cars, can be mass customised. Day also uncovers why firms such as Google have become the business megastars of the age while many dot.coms went by the board. Google sees the world as all businesses need to see us – the consumer – as individuals, or at least small groups of individuals. As Silicon Valley-based dot.com pioneer Joe Kraus said to Peter Day: ‘The 20th century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers.’ So how do we take the lessons learned in
custom manufacturing and by Google, into a service-led world of car dealerships? Start by thoroughly understanding your customer base. What is their new and used-car history and after-sales buying history? And what are they not buying from you? Work out why they are not buying. Use everything at your disposal to gather this intelligence – online surveys, questionnaires completed in the dealership or from home. Once this has been completed and analysed, begin to segment your customers into meaningful groups. One group might be ‘first-time car buyer prospects’; another ‘loyal used-car buyer who does not currently buy servicing from us’, and so on. Once this work has been done, you can begin to analyse how they would like to be communicated with. Are they interested to know more about the latest offers on regular servicing or financing options, for example? Tailor the communications specifically to these pools of customers. What about extending that customisation into how you communicate with your customers? Vehicles are already highly configurable, but are your after-sales services equally so? Are your servicing and finance products available for consideration and purchase online? Are they supported with an online chat facility? Can you take service bookings online around the clock? If not, why not? If we continue to strive to get closer to our customers, tailor our offerings to more accurately meet their needs and treat them more as individuals, can UK dealers begin delivering the service equivalent of mass customisation?
Who is Paul Smith?
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LATEST FROM THE FLEET... Second report:
AudiS7 It’s the little things that make all the difference...
’ve been racking up the miles in our Audi S7 over the past few weeks and it’s given me some time for reflection. Not on the meaning of life, but about the fact that it’s a combination of the little things that make or break a car. That’s why long term tests like these are so invaluable to us hacks, because it’s only after a few months with a car that you start to see past the stonking performance and looks and start to appreciate the little things. This month my time in the S7 has clicked over 100 hours behind the wheel. How do I know that? Well, the handy dashboard computer told me so. It also revealed I’ve done 3,690 miles in that time at an average speed of 35mph, averaging 25.4mpg. That last figure might sound a bit poor, but considering I used to get 24mpg out of my 2.5-litre Ford Focus ST, it’s something I can live with. Remember this S7 has a 4.0-litre twin turbo under the bonnet and produces 414bhp. It’s pretty damn rapid. So to those little things. In no particular order I’ve found myself marvelling at the track pad on the centre console that allows you to ‘draw’ letters with your finger for inputting addresses into the sat-nav. It works brilliantly and I find it far easier than twiddling the knob. On the subject of the sat-nav you can’t fail to
miss its directions. As well as on the main screen – which joyfully rises out of the dash with a beautiful, smooth movement (another of my loves) – you also get directions on the dash between speedo and rev counter (a full map display) and it’s also repeated arrow-style on the head-up display. It makes following directions a doddle wherever your eyes are looking. Audi really has worked wonders on the multimedia interface in the S7. It’s clearly laid out, simple to understand and quick to pick up. I tried a new Mercedes C-Class recently and couldn’t
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Audi S7 Price: £61,995 Engine: 4.0-litre, V8 twin turbo Power: 414bhp Max speed: 155mph 0-60mph: 4.7s Emissions: 225g/km Mileage this month: 2,123 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Celebrating our 100th hour anniversary with a top-up of super unleaded
believe at how backward the controls were – I tried and failed many times to input a difficult destination into its brain. The Audi, on the other hand, is a lesson in simplicity. Perhaps the Germans should swap notes? What else do I love? Well, the fact there’s carbon fibre everywhere makes it look cool inside and marks it out nicely as a performance model while the seats are wonderfully comfortable, even on very long distances. I haven’t found myself fidgeting even after two hours or more in the saddle. For me, that’s highly unusual. And it’s simple things, like the fact it displays Spotify track names on the dash, that I really love. They’re all small touches, but ones that add up to making owning a vehicle so much more pleasurable. And looking after the S7 is certainly proving to be just that. It’s not all good news though. There are a few things I feel could be improved, but I’ll save those gripes for next month. No point putting a downer on things just yet. James Baggott (@CarDealerEd) CarDealerMag.co.uk | 111
LATEST FROM THE FLEET... New arrival:
Plenty of seats, gadgets galore and great mpg – that’s why I like Dannii so much more than Kylie
Narrow driveways mean lengthy manoeuvres
It looks great – but the coffee run’s a nightmare
THE 6 may be a CD favourite for long motorway journeys, with the punchy diesel motor punting it past slower cars with ease, but it’s definitely not as comfortable manoeuvring into London’s tighter parking spaces. Posted off to the capital for several events (thank you Hyundai and Infiniti), I stopped off at one of my aunts’ houses and lined up to park on the two-car driveway. Despite having parked here in all sorts of machinery, the 6 proved trickier than normal, because of its size. After toing and froing several times to line up this oversized burgundy beast, I eventually managed to fit the 6 in – all without flattening my aunt’s flower-packed flowerbeds. Phew. Arriving back from Frankfurt after the Hyundai Tucson launch, I returned to hear the 6 had been getting all sorts of admiring glances from the people of Wembley, who all seemed to think my aunt had come into some money… Hopping back into the 6’s comfy leather seat on one of the hottest days of the year, however, the memory I have is scouring the dash for the practically invisible fan buttons to cool down the cabin. Chris Lloyd (@ChristoferLloyd)
IT’S safe to say vans live a hard life. Already three months into its life with us and we’re starting to form a strong opinion of what works, and what doesn’t. There’s no question it absolutely looks the part. It is, after all, the weapon of choice for a large number of production companies, largely thanks to the running costs and load space. But the body kit and sporty alloys really give it presence on the road, so much so that I often get admiring glances and thumbs-up from fellow Transporter-o-philes. I think the only changes I would make to spruce its looks further would be to slightly lower the ride height. Unfortunately though, the bad points of living with the Transporter are starting to outweigh the good. I’ve already reported on the rather complicated sat-nav system, but the rather impractical cup holder is making my morning routine of stopping for a coffee a little more stressful than it should be. It’s designed to fit any size cup, but when you take it out, the clasp closes meaning you somehow have to try to open it and slide your coffee back in without spilling it. I’ve not mastered the technique yet. Nigel Swan (@motoringnut)
THE LATEST vehicle to join the Car Dealer fleet is the Mitsubishi Outlander diesel – the Dannii Minogue of the Outlanders which lives in the shadow of its more successful sibling, the PHEV. While the hybrid version might be all you hear about at the moment, the diesel still has plenty to offer, starting with two more seats that pop up in the spacious boot. That extra row of seats has already come in handy on a number of occasions. Among them was a night out with some former newspaper colleagues. I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a group of hacks – and I won’t invite suggestions – but the point is the Outlander meant we needed to take only one car. We also managed to squeeze two families into it for a day out, including two child seats when again the alternative would have been a more costly trip in two cars. Very handy indeed. Our model comes with a load of gadgets, including a multi-select four-wheel drive system, auto stop and go and DAB radio. And, of course, it’s got a Euro NCAP five-star safety rating. The automatic boot is one thing I’ve really come to appreciate, especially when it makes that loud beeping noise as I open it before leaving for work at 6am while my neighbours are still in bed. Having said that, I did manage to accidently 112 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
open it by banging the button with my knee while parked up and on the phone, scrabbling for a pen, so it’s not entirely idiot proof. The boot isn’t the only thing that beeps at you but, those noises aside, it’s a quiet and refined drive, with a nice finish to the interior. The satnav is not quite as user-friendly as the one in the ASX, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually got some clever features. And the green leaf challenge, which displays how economically you have driven at the end of each journey, has become an addictive game that’s turned me into a more eco-friendly driver. The extra seats in the diesel version and the mpg on the sort of driving I do, which is mainly long journeys bombing all over the country, make this car a winner. Gareth Bethell (@garethbethell)
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4 Manual (Diesel) Price: £30,498 Engine: 2.2-litre diesel Power: 147bhp, 380Nm Max speed: 124mph 0-60mph: 10.2s Emissions: 140g/km Mileage this month: 1,312 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Seeing the lanky frame of Baggott in the pop-up seat in the boot.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Mazda 6 Price: £27,655 Engine: 2.2-litre diesel six-speed manual Power: 173bhp Max speed: 130mph 0-60mph: 9.1s Emissions: 107g/km Mileage this month: 1044 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Leaping past slow traffic with just the smallest flex of your right foot.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: VW Transporter Sportline 60 LWB Price: £37,306 (as tested) Engine: 2.0-litre BiTDI 180PS 7spd DSG Power: 178bhp, 400Nm Max speed: 119mph 0-60mph: 10.2s Emissions: 211g/km Mileage this month: 841 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Managing to finish my skinny latte – once – without spilling a drop.
Thanks for everything – we’re going to miss you
Looks good, feels good – but still too thirsty
Our in tents (geddit?) trip was a sheer joy
Figures show budget brand is well established
AND so it’s time to bid farewell to the faithful old IS300h, which has been one of the most popular motors in the CD fleet for the past six months. It’s nice and nimble around town; it’s in its element cruising up and down the motorway, and as I found on a couple of occasions, you can pack a lot of your daughter’s gear into the back when she’s moving house... A couple of colleagues think it’s a bit slow off the mark from a standing start, but it’s more than powerful enough for me. And no-one can deny the hybrid technology works well, with mpg in the mid-50s, even when there’s a lot of around-town driving. It’s so efficient that I thought it had to be diesel, and not petrol – and thankfully came to my senses just before I pulled on the nozzle at the gas station... Niggles? Getting any DAB station apart from the BBC is a bit of a challenge, and the sliding heating control is fiddly – looks over substance there, I fear. But overall, it drives really well and we’re going to miss it. It’s a hybrid that works as a hybrid, and has the kind of looks executive cars should have. Colin Channon (@colinchannon)
I’D been handed the keys and was looking forward to seeing whether or not what I’d heard (both good and bad) was true over a week’s motoring. First off the bat, I like the styling. The alloys fill the arches well and, for the most part, the various grooves and slashes along the body make it look, dare I say it, like a hot hatch. So well done there, Kia. The interior isn’t a bad place to be either. I like the heavily-bucketed and bolstered Recaro seats and the steering wheel has a nice shape and size to it, considering it plays host to a variety of control buttons. The one thing I would say is that you can’t quite get the seat low enough or the steering wheel close enough, but then I do tend to sit like a bit of a boy racer. Trips to and from the office have been dealt with easily, albeit with a certain level of disdain while looking at the fuel gauge. Sub-35mpg just isn’t acceptable for a 1.6-litre turbo, but the superb build quality of the car lets you brush over that. A short blast in the New Forest showed itself to be quite capable on the bends – despite the torrential rain. The British summer, eh? Jack Evans (@JackRober)
THERE is nothing like a long road trip to inspire deep love or overwhelming resentment in a vehicle. The boss decided such a trip was in order (details in next month’s mag), and involved 1,500 miles through England, Scotland and Wales. We have pounded miles on to the V40 over the time it has been with us and I felt it was the only logical option for the role of trip support vehicle. For reasons I can’t yet reveal, it far exceeded my high expectations and met every challenge that was thrown at it (including a sudden, drastic increase in load weight). The D4 engine gives exceptional range on long motorway stints while still managing responsive performance on the twisty fast roads of Wales and Scotland. The engine is happy to rev further than many other diesels with a power band that feels more petrol than diesel, allowing the B-road barnstorming pace need to reach all of our chosen locations on time. The suspension set-up absorbed the irregularities of the UK’s ageing motorway surfaces like a magic carpet. Jonny Fleetwood (@jfleetwoodphoto)
THE Dacia Duster has been with us for so long now, it almost feels like a member of the family. There’s a certain familiarity about it when you take the wheel, although the car isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as my colleague Chris Lloyd (soon to be departing Car Dealer Towers) has indicated before. Talking of family, the latest journey I embarked on in NJ14PFD was to see my sister and her brood in Gloucestershire. (My nephew Ed is a total car nut like me.) And once again, the car was adept at gobbling up the miles on the motorways in the south of England, and negotiating the foliage-filled lanes of the West Country. Elsewhere in this edition of the magazine, we report that Dacia achieved 2,568 sales in the UK in June, according to the figures released by the SMMT, equating to a market share of one per cent for the month. Not bad for a brand that, after all, has been around for only a few short years. Renault Group UK boss Ken Ramirez is understandably delighted – as are we, that the company has let us hang on to our well-used (and well-looked-after) vehicle for so long. Dave Brown (@CarDealerDave)
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Lexus IS300h Price: £38,495 (as tested) Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl, 178bhp, plus electric motor Power: 178hp, 300Nm Max speed: 125mph 0-60mph: 8.4s Emissions: 109g/km Mileage this month: 862 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Using it for a golf trip – there’s room galore for the bags and trolleys.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Kia Procee’d 1.6 T-GDi GT Price: £22,495 (as tested) Engine: 1.6-litre petrol Power: 201bhp Max speed: 143mph 0-60mph: 7.4s Emissions: 171g/km Mpg: 38.2 (combined) Mileage this month: 429 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Feeling snug inside the cabin while the rain poured down outside.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Volvo V40 Cross Country D4 Price: £36,045 (as tested) Engine: 1969cc, 4 cylinder, turbo-charged Power: 190bhp, 400Nm Max speed: 130mph 0-60mph: 7.1s Emissions: 104g/km Mileage this month: 2,439 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Ah, the comfort – it’s like sitting in your favourite armchair.
THE KNOWLEDGE Model: Dacia Duster Laureate dCi 110 4x4 Price: £16,380 (as tested) Engine: 1.5-litre, turbocharged diesel Power: 109bhp, 240Nm Max speed: 104mph 0-60mph: 12.3s Emissions: 137g/km Mileage this month: 799 THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHT Travelling to enjoy some familybased fun and games. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 113
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Why a lost parrot made me think of the farce of pre-registered vehicles...
here’s a lunchtime walk I like to take occasionally. It’s not far from the office and by the sea. It crosses the course that our editor likes to hit little white balls around with big metal sticks – I say big, I can only assume they’re very small sticks, possibly for children, but I know how much he hates it when people wander through this public right of way, so like to ensure I do it as often as I can so I can tell him about it. Anyway, pinned to the gate the other day was a sign that got me thinking. It had a picture of a pet bird. ‘Lost African Grey’ it said, declaring a reward for anyone who found it. Under that it simply said ‘Call Dean’. I must have been in one of those moods because all I could imagine was the people of Gosport walking around calling out for Dean, in the hope he’d flutter down from the trees and land on their shoulder. I think it was the italicised Dean that confused me. Was the bird called Dean? Did the owner really want me – and the dog walkers of our seaside town – to walk around the golf course shouting his name? Did he even know his name? Or was the owner called Dean and in which case what were we meant to shout to attract Dean 2 down from his new perch? I was confused. There were just six words on this sign and I was still lost. But during my walk, I thought about Dean some more. What made the owner make the sign and pin it to this gate? Did Dean like golf? He’s a bird, after all, so what made Dean’s owner think he’d only fly to the beach? How far and wide are these signs spread? I did some Google research when I got back to the office and Dean could be 30 miles away in one flight – in which case will this sign by a golf course frequented by child-sized Car Dealer Magazine golfers make any difference? So many questions… I came to the conclusion that Dean’s owner, or Dean, was a desperate man. And in desperate situations we do things that aren’t logical. Like italicising Dean and confusing dog walkers. Which brings me neatly (albeit in quite a lengthy way) around to the point of my column: Desperation. Depending on which way round you read this magazine you’ve either read (again) about the rising new car sales in the UK or are about to – and, like me, you might be wondering if all really is as it seems. At our CDX15 Expo I hosted a panel discussion between manufacturer
Who is James Baggott?
bosses and then, following that, with some dealer big wigs too. The difference in mood was stark. The manufacturers were upbeat, singing from the same hymn sheet that ‘pre-reg wasn’t a problem’ and that sales were rising and ‘still would’ in 2015. The dealers, on the other hand, looked positively depressed. JCT600 chief executive John Tordoff let rip while Perrys’ Ken Savage blasted manufacturers for their ‘unrealistic sales targets’. There was a clear dichotomy of opinion – and it was worrying to witness. These bosses on two different sides of the automotive retailing fence couldn’t have been further apart. So what’s driving this division? Greed? Desperation? Well, it could well be the latter. For the past few years manufacturers have been enjoying
James Pre-registered cars Baggott are being forced on to EDITOR’S NOTE: NEXT TIME YOU WALK IN FRONT OF GOLFERS, JUST TAKE A LOOK AT THIS SIGN YOU KEEP ON IGNORING...
steadily growing sales – and they all desperately want them to keep on rising. They’ve got plants to keep happy, bosses to impress. But so much of that is being forced in this market it’s clear the picture that is being painted is in no way as rosy as they’d like us to think. Pre-registered cars are being forced on to dealers’ forecourts by desperate manufacturers fighting to keep sales figures in the positive. There’s no question as to whether it is happening, it IS happening. Dealers, on the promise of bonuses in line with unrealistic sales targets, are accepting them. Month after month, quarter after quarter. The Perrys chief even described pre-reg as ‘a drug that’s nearly impossible to wean yourself off’. It takes a strong dealer to stand up to a desperate manufacturer – of which many of them out there currently are – and sadly there are few dealers strong enough to do it. We’ve been over the pre-reg farce many times before, but now that bubble is growing even bigger and I can’t help but worry it’s about to come to a sad and depressing end. Much, I fear, like the search for our feathered friend Dean.
He’s the founder of Car Dealer Magazine and managing director of parent company @BlackballMedia, an automotive services provider. He now spends most of his time on Twitter @CarDealerEd and annoying the rest of us. 114 | CarDealerMag.co.uk
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