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FEATURE.

Automotive influencers W

ho could have predicted what was going to happen to the motor industry this time last year? We suspect that even Mystic Meg would have had her work cut out as 2012 proved just how much the car business can surprise us all once in a while. Not only did the economy drop into and rise from a recession, but the year started out with the SMMT predicting a modest 1.84m new cars would be bought by hungry customers. Mid-year the organisation decided to up the estimation to 1.95m saying customers were hungrier than they initially

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expected. And then by the year’s end, would you believe it? Two million cars were sold by dealers. Putting aside the rumours surrounding strong UK car sales, if there was ever a reason why predictions were a tricky art, 2012 was probably it. That’s why we’ve spoken to some of the very biggest names in the industry in an attempt to come up with a colourful and interesting picture of what we might be expecting in 2013. We’ve brought together 15 automotive influencers and asked them five set questions. Here’s what they have to say.


PICTURES: STEPHEN HALL

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FEATURE.

Ford Mark Ovenden: Meeting customers’ needs will create a sustained future What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? Ford’s ever-strengthening product line-up helped the company extend its UK market lead in 2012. The new Transit Custom, new Kuga and new Fiesta will complete their launches in Q1 and then we move quickly on to Fiesta ST, new Transit Connect and the new two-tonne Transit. Ford’s industry-leading technologies such as SYNC, MyKey and the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will provide further opportunities for Ford to build both its brand and its market leadership. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? The economic environment in Europe continues to be very difficult with overcapacity in the automotive industry creating severe profitability issues. Ford has announced a comprehensive plan to accelerate the transformation of our business in Europe, which includes improved margins through a strengthened brand and a richer product mix; and expanding our portfolio of sports utility and commercial vehicles. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Increasing UK sales through 2012 drew in extra production from depressed European markets and it was a credit to Ford’s outstanding product lineup and its dealer partners that Ford’s market lead was strengthened during this period of intense rivalry for sales. Current expectations are that the UK market will continue at similar levels, which means that 2013 will be similarly challenging. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? It’s absolutely critical that the retail experience meets increasing customer expectations. Through 2013 we will be implementing a programme of improvement starting with our online presence but importantly cascading the approach all the way to the shop floor, including cultural change as well as physical and virtual upgrades.

Mini CV Name: Mark Ovenden Job title: Managing director Age: 48 Lives: Essex Drives: Ford Mondeo the Favourite car ever: Ford Model T, ise to first example of Ford’s brand prom inues to cont h whic gy nolo democratise tech this day. Non Ford; Original Land Rover Family: Married with two daughters am Education: Graduated from Nottingh raphy & University in 1985 with a BA in Geog

Economics. analyst Career: Joined Ford in 1985 as a sales ings post ious Prev e. offic ict in Daventry distr car brand include pricing director and small as Ford manager in Ford of Europe, as well 2006. of Britain marketing director from in as Ovenden returned to Ford of Brita years as managing director in 2011 after three of t iden pres and tor managing direc Ford Russia.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Dealers are the front line of the Ford brand and it’s absolutely imperative that they focus all their attention on customer service. Customer choice and expectations are always growing – meeting those needs creates a sustained future. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? In 2013, Ford will be concentrating on the positive aspects of the number 13 by adding a further model to its current 12 model line-up. Since the introduction of our global One Ford strategy in 2006, the company has delivered more vehicles faster to increase its competitiveness. Ford has added five all-new car nameplates: S-MAX, Kuga, Grand C-MAX, B-MAX and Tourneo Custom. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 37


FEATURE.

The AA Edmund King: Focus on good communication and less on the coffee What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? The chancellor’s autumn statement made some changes which will make investment in the industry more effective. We believe interest in electric vehicles will grow slowly as concerns over range-anxiety reduce. EVs will be marketed as the second car. Used car sales will be shaken up by new brands entering the market. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? In the UK, fleets buy a large proportion of new cars and the government needs to provide them with clear indication of long-term policy on company car taxation, VED and how we pay for roads. A government-floated idea of an access charge to use the motorway network depending on vehicle C02 or weight could distort the market. In environmental protection there is worry over the increasing costs of developing new systems to reduce toxic emissions and carbon dioxide. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Not sure about a smoke screen, volumes of car sales have always fluctuated but there is no doubt the economy needs to improve so more drivers feel able to commit to the expense of a new car purchase. We suspect that some people are buying now because the return on their investments is so low and there are incentives for low-emission cars – VED etc. High fuel prices may also be making some drivers wonder if they should change to more fuel-efficient models. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? We would like to see more customer contact, such as open evenings with salesmen and mechanics, so drivers can examine new cars without pressure and appreciate the complexity and sophistication of modern vehicles. Offer good straightforward finance deals, more attention to building good relationships and trust between dealerships and customers. Give customers want they want, for example, spare wheels. The latest AA car buyer poll shows 16 per cent will change car in next 12 months. Less than a quarter will buy new, 37 per 38 | CarDealerMag.co.uk

Mini CV Name: Edmund V King Job title: President Age: 52 Lives: St Albans, Herts te Drives: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Esta Favourite car ever: Citroen DS 21 s (10), Family: wife Deirdre, Finbar (12), Luca

Eloise (8) Education: 3 A Levels, 11 O Levels, ersity, BA(Hons) Politics at Newcastle Univ ica Mon a Sant at ma Broadcasting Diplo of College, California, Visiting professor y ersit Univ e castl transport, New et Career: Wine taster at Bouchard Aine nt rtme Depa ee, train uate Fils, Beaune; grad in LA; DJ of Employment; antique jewellery thon Rent at K-RTH Radio; LA director, Mara British a Car, LA; campaigns manager at RACF; tor, direc utive exec n; Road Federatio president of AA.

cent will buy one up to three years old, with just over a quarter buying one over three years old. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Good communication with their customers and excellent customer service to establish loyalty. Less emphasis on coffee and somewhere to plug in the laptop and more focus on provision of better information for customers. Cars have been transformed over the last few years but many drivers feel intimidated by their lack of understanding of the new technology and by the daunting, appearance of main dealer reception. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? An AA Populus poll found 10 per cent of drivers said they would not buy a car with 13 on the number plate. A third said a car with 13 on it would make it harder for them to sell. Personally I would love a new Aston Martin DB9 with 13 on it.


Manheim

Mike Pilkington: If you look after your customers, they are more likely to recommend you to others What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? We’ve seen some fantastic strides in technological developments in both the remarketing and retail markets in recent years. This pace of change continues to quicken at a phenomenal rate and we are likely to see more innovations that will help reduce the time it takes to push a car through the complete remarketing and retail journey and improve the effectiveness of the services that we offer our customers.

Mini CV Name: Mike Pilkington Job title: Chief strategy officer Age:50 Lives: Small village of Woore, north Shropshire Drives: Audi A5 lo Favourite car ever: Lamborghini Diab ren child two ied, Family: Marr ol Education: Educated at Kings Scho 3A and ls Leve O 8 with left Macclesfield, Levels the Career: Pilkington managed two of went on largest car auctions in the UK and Motor to be operations director at Central tor at GRS Auctions. He was a founding direc ting and went on to start Vehicle Remarke me MD Solutions where he was MD. He beca MD of of Manheim Retail Services and then Manheim Remarketing in the UK. He is now chief strategy officer for Manheim International

What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Economic uncertainty is still probably the biggest single threat. Where consumers are worried about job security, paying rising bills and keeping a roof over their head then they will continue to put off big-ticket purchases. However Manheim’s research shows that dealers are more confident about 2013 than they were about 2012. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? There has been a significant rise in consumer purchases as well as fleet in 2012. There is anecdotal evidence that some of this is forced as manufacturers take advantage of a slightly stronger pound and look to place surplus stock in view of the weak European market and below-expectation sales in China. While economic uncertainty continues, some areas of the UK are growing and will drive new sales growth. 2013 will continue to see a shortage of quality retail stock and therefore some preregistrations volumes could be absorbed.

But the impact on some dealers’ profitability could be considerable if not managed well. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy thanks to the wealth of information at their fingertips and have probably made a purchase decision before setting foot inside a dealership. Therefore dealers needs to stress test their business processes to ensure they have the basics right. Is their website well optimised and well presented? How are sales leads captured and followed up? In a recent Motors.co.uk survey 53 per cent of email enquiries were not answered or followed up. How do you monitor sales performance? Have you got the right stocking strategy in place? What should dealers focus on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Making sure customer loyalty is a major part of their business plan. Repeat business is vital to building profitability over time. As an example, in a recent Manheim survey 97 per cent of respondents stated that improving service absorption was a key part of business profitability. Look after your customers well and they are more likely to return and recommend you in the future. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? Inevitably some people will be superstitious and not buy but they will be few. I expect we will see some very creative marketing initiatives from manufacturers and dealers to entice customers not to mention continued new car offers. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 39


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FEATURE.

Toyota Jon Williams: Dealers who are proactive will be the winners in 2013 What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? 2013 is an exciting year for Toyota and Lexus. Combined Toyota and Lexus sales grew by over 11 per cent in 2012, and we have ambitions to grow again in 2013, supported by a number of new model introductions. Toyota is renewing its entire C-segment line-up; in December we launched the new generation Auris and Auris Hybrid both of which are built here in the UK; in January we will launch a major refresh of the Verso MPV; and in February we launch the fourth generation RAV4. Later in the year we will be launching the Auris Touring Sports (which was revealed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show) and the new ProAce medium commercial van. Lexus will launch the new generation IS and a lower displacement hybrid powertrain in the GS. What is the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Keeping a close eye on stock levels will be important as economies vary across the European markets. Production levels will need to be carefully managed. This in turn helps to protect residual values and avoids the pitfalls associated with ‘stress selling’. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Economies in other European markets are still uncertain and this does have a knock-on effect on the UK economy which is hard to predict. We will be looking to increase sales in 2013 helped by new model introductions and by making our industry-leading hybrid technology available on more models. Running costs become even more important to new owners in times of austerity and the cost advantage of hybrid provides a clear benefit for Toyota and Lexus. Consumers are increasingly demanding better value and our Toyota True Value campaign for 2013 promotes well-specified cars at very affordable monthly payments backed by our five-year Toyota warranty. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? With sustained pressure on disposable incomes,

Mini CV Name: Jon Williams director Job title: President and managing Age: 45 Lives: Epsom, Surrey Drives: Lexus RX 450h Favourite car ever: Lexus LFA Family: married with three sons science Education: Jon holds a bachelor of and ent agem man in ee honours degr y of chemical sciences from the Universit ce Scien of tute Insti Manchester and Technology (UMIST). ial Career: Joined Toyota GB as commerc r director in 2007 from Toyota Moto of Europe where he had been director a-half marketing for Toyota for four-andyears. Before joining Toyota, Williams the worked for Ford, in both the UK and t of iden pres vice as d perio a USA, including rica. marketing for Land Rover North Ame

raising the awareness of the low running costs associated with hybrid technology will be important for Toyota and Lexus. For retail customers this can then be increased further through accessibility schemes such as our AccessToyota and Lexus Connect PCPs which promote low monthly payments. For corporate customers, the low CO2 of Toyota and Lexus hybrids results in lower taxation for the company and for the driver.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and sustained future in 2013? In tough market conditions, the best performing dealers are always the most active. They don’t wait for customers to appear in their showrooms or after-sales facilities; they have action plans in place to generate enquiries and to schedule appointments. Providing outstanding customer service (which will be recognised through social media) and excellence in lead conversion should be top priorities for all dealers. The ability to meet and exceed customer expectations for different types of consumer enquiries on a consistent basis will define the most successful dealers in sales and aftersales. And finally for the superstitious are you worried the 13 plate change will put off buyers? I do not believe the ‘13’ plate will have an adverse effect on sales. For those who are superstitious they can easily transfer their current registration plate to their new car, take out a personal plate, or wait until September for the ‘63’ plate. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 41


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FEATURE.

FLA Stephen Sklaroff: The greatest threat is arguably from new regulation What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? Car finance sold in showrooms performed impressively in 2012. FLA member finance companies provided over £22bn to businesses and consumers over the most recent 12 months for which we have figures, including finance for over 70 per cent of private new car sales. There may well be room for further growth in 2013, and new car finance penetration could go even higher and dealer finance could also take a larger share of the used car market. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? The largest threat is arguably from new regulation. The government is proposing a radical overhaul of consumer credit regulation and to introduce new regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority. Given the huge economic importance of motor finance, 2013 will be an important year for us to help shape the government’s proposals and ensure that they do not damage the industry’s competitiveness. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Discounted deals have so far helped deliver 10 consecutive months of double-digit car finance growth. At the moment, there is little sign of this situation changing – provided the deals continue to bring customers into showrooms. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? Revisit the fundamentals of your business and get them right. High-quality customer service is no longer an extra; it is expected by all consumers as standard. Make sure your customers get the service they need by ensuring you understand the products that can help them make their next purchase more affordable. Better communication will also lead to better retention and more repeat business. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Lenders, manufacturers, dealers and suppliers all have a role to play. Dealers should look to 44 | CarDealerMag.co.uk

Mini CV Name: Stephen Sklaroff Job title: Director general Age: 59 Lives: London Drives: n/a in Favourite car ever: UK ambassador e Washington’s armoured Rolls Royc Family: Wife, Sarah-Jane Education: Stephen graduated from completed Edinburgh University in 1980 and y College a PhD in Biochemistry at Universit . London in 1984 Career: Sklaroff worked in several Service departments and posts in the Civil deputy until 2000, when he left to become British of n ciatio Asso the of ral director gene current Insurers. In 2007 he started in his post at the FLA.

strengthen their relationships with their finance providers to ensure that their showroom offerings meet the needs of their individual customers. In 2012, PCP accounted for 63 per cent of private new car finance sales and an increasing proportion of the used car market, and so is an important tool in a dealer’s armoury. So too is HP, which accounted for 28 per cent of new car finance sales. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? No, I don’t think buyers will be put off by the new plate – particularly when they see the range of deals available to them in showrooms. There really has never been a better time to buy a car on finance. As ever, March will continue to be an important month for the industry.


Peugeot Tim Zimmerman: The importance of social media is greater than ever What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? The UK car market in 2012 was ahead of 2011 so I am hoping for continued growth in 2013. It is one of the few bright spots in Europe and the retail market is improving. There’s exciting new product coming such as the new RCZ, 208 GTi and the 2008 for Peugeot which will continue to stimulate demand. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Inconsistent fiscal policy. For example reducing CO2 levels requires investment from manufacturers and customers alike and we must not keep moving the goalposts if we want to encourage customers to buy cutting-edge ecological technology like our own Diesel HYbrid4 range. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? I personally don’t see a smoke screen! Cars are being purchased by customers and in fact our stock levels are reducing year on year. However, the market is very competitive in fleet and retail and we have to remain agile. Peugeot’s retail mix is improving and we have drastically reduced our short-term fleet business. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? Peugeot dealers know, following our national business meeting last month, that they have a lot to look forward to in 2013 with further fantastic new product. The launch of 208 in 2012 has given our dealers much to be optimistic about and they need to continue to capitalise on this success throughout 2013. Customer expectations continue to rise and dealers need to be dynamic commercially and at the same time provide the highest levels of customer service What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? The retail market is out there and we should prepare a solid marketing plan to maximise opportunities. The internet and social media are both playing increasing roles and that includes

Mini CV Name: Tim Zimmerman Job title: Managing director Age: 48 Lives: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire Drives: Peugeot 508 RXH Favourite car ever: Peugeot 504 Coupe Family? Wife Rebekah and two children Education: BA (Hons) Business Studies, DipM, DipMS Career: Joined Peugeot Talbot Motor Co as a graduate trainee in 1986 – rose to regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland in 1995. 1998-2007 based in France in various roles, including director of marketing and commerce for Banque PSA Finance and director of fleet, business and used car sales for Peugeot France. From 2007, managing director of Peugeot Netherlands and in 2009 appointed general manager, Dong Feng Peugeot based in Beijing. Appointed MD for Peugeot UK in October 2011.

within the dealer network, too. Equally, we must improve our service to the point where customers are not just completely satisfied but also recommend us to their friends and colleagues, and Facebook friends. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? I am not superstitious and so certainly not worried about that. In fact, the DVLA is saying that early indications suggest that the ‘13’ plate will prove incredibly popular with UK car buyers. However, for the few customers who still believe in superstition in this technological age, make sure they take delivery of their car in January or February on a ‘62’ plate and maximise dealer cash flow! CarDealerMag.co.uk | 45


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FEATURE.

Marshall

Daksh Gupta: Aftersales absorption is the key to dealers having a successful 2013 What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? There will continue to be further consolidation in our sector and I can see Marshall playing an active part in this.

in the world but with poor management driving them it just won’t happen. In my view the amplitude in profit swing is eight per cent ROS. Great people will make you four per cent and poor lose you four per cent!

What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? The decreased levels of aftersales absorption is the biggest threat in the business right now as the one to four-year-old parc has reduced by 21 per cent since 2008. We need to drive top-line labour turnover and make sure our cost base is fit for purpose.

And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? Even if there are fewer buyers out there during the ‘13’ plate they will come out in January and February or wait ‘til September for ‘63’ plate regardless. Nothing stops you stealing other people’s dinner or making your own luck!

Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? The new car market will continue to grow in the UK, principally as the European markets are in turmoil and the pound-to-euro exchange rate have helped drive UK volumes as the current consumer offers are incredible. Buying a new car in this country has never been so cheap. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? I do believe the new car market will be driven to an extent by continued strong consumer offers that will be driven in turn by the manufacturers, but used cars and aftersales is critical if you want to be profitable, that’s what we will focus on for 2013. We need to get a balanced performance across all income streams. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? People, people, people, but in particular management. You can have the best processes

Mini CV Name: Daksh Gu pta Job title: Chief ex ecutive Age: 42 Lives: Filgrave, Bu ckinghamshire Drives: Range Ro ver Sport Favourite car ever : Aston DBS Family: Married to MacKenzie with tw o boys, Ajay (13) and Myles (three months) Education: Studie d Computer Scien ce (Software Enginee ring) at Oxford Br ookes University Career: After unive rsity, Gupta joine d the Nissan dealer netw ork and worked his way from sales exec to GM at the Camden Retail Group. In 1998, he joined Inchcape as a GM and progressed to franchise director where he looked after VW , Audi and Mercede s-Benz. In 2007, Gupta joi ned Accident Exch ange Group PLC as CO O. He became Rid geway Group managing director in 2008, where he is still a non-exec utive director and became CEO at Marshall Mo tor Holdings in October 2008.

CarDealerMag.co.uk | 47


FEATURE.

GMAC Erhard Paulat: Great customer service with benefits is the motto What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? We are continuing to expand our market presence and will continue to offer a broad spectrum of financing products and services for dealers and their customers in 2013. We have a number of exciting new propositions for dealers. Along with innovative consumer offers we are looking to maximise our opportunities in 2013. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? An uncertain economic outlook for the European and/or global economy could impact consumer confidence. If a market shows signs of moderation, though, it is important to offer attractive options to support the vehicle sale. Auto financing is one of these options and finance companies such as GMAC play a vital role in supplying credit for vehicle purchases by consumers and businesses alike. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? GMAC is working closely with its manufacturer colleagues to achieve sustainable and beneficial growth. In my view, this is based on offering the consumer the right products and services with sustainable conditions. Additionally, we want to be poised to help dealers finance sales across the spectrum. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? A professional finance and insurance programme is an important competitive advantage and continues to be a significant contributor to dealer performance. We are here to support our dealers to make the most of opportunities in this area and add value through this business for them to achieve or even exceed their goals. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Great customer service with benefit is the motto. Auto financing for example is not only about credit but also about availability, treating customers fairly, 48 | CarDealerMag.co.uk

Mini CV

quality of service and expertise in this specialised field. Training the skills they need to run their business is crucial for dealers as well. That is why GMAC puts a heavy focus on high-quality training which received industry recognition by the IMI Awards in 2012. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? We have no worries over the plate change but are planning for another good March.

Name: Erhard (Ed) Paulat Job title: Chief operating officer Age: 43 years Lives: Cardiff and Potsdam, Germany Drives: Vauxhall Insignia Favourite car ever: Vauxhall/Opel GT Family? Two beautiful daughters aged 14 and 16 Education: Earned the German equivalent of A-levels, German state approved Banker, Bachelor of Banking/Finance and, as I believe in lifelong learning, I am studying for an MBA at Henley Management College, Henley-onThames. Career: Paulat has lived on three different continents and has done business on four. He has worked in the banking and financial services industry all his working life. He describes it as a challenging, rewarding and personally fulfilling experience, so far.


Citroen Linda Jackson: 2013 must be the year of outstanding customer service What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? It will be another challenging year for the UK automotive sector and, I believe, another successful one for Citroen. Personally, I’ll be focused on continuing our move up-market, further developing the revitalised image of our brand, delivering an outstanding ownership experience for our customers and supporting our dealer network with initiatives that will help enhance their profitability. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? For me it’s all about customer confidence, so the biggest threat would be anything that has a negative impact on that. Of course, if we experience changing market conditions, the industry will always react. Whatever the market dynamics, our job is simply to tempt buyers into our showrooms and to give them tangible reasons why they should buy the new car (or van) that’s right for them. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? We see the market in 2013 as broadly similar to 2012. There are many factors at play, so we will be concentrating on delivering sustainable growth in terms of market share. The success of the DS line, as well as the desirability and breadth of our C-range, means we have the right products at the right time. By delivering outstanding customer service, we’ll attract more customers as the market continues to recover. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? By concentrating on customer satisfaction and providing an outstanding customer experience at every stage of the buying and ownership process. The quality of our cars has never been better and UK customers have never had higher expectations or been more informed. So it’s the quality of service that we and our dealer partners provide that will maximise the number of customers returning to the Citroen network.

Mini CV Name: Linda Jackson Job title: Managing director Lives: Near Rugby, Warwickshire Drives: Citroen DS5 Favourite car ever: Citroen DS Family: Married . Education: Warwick University, MBA career ve moti auto her n bega a Lind Career: ce roles. finan us vario at MG Rover working in pean Euro r’s Rove MG as inted appo She was g finance director in 2004 before joinin . Linda Citroen UK as finance director in 2005 en Citro of tor was appointed finance direc UK’s en Citro me beca and 2009 in France managing director in 2010.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Again, dealers need to focus on the customer experience to ensure their own profitability. That means investing in all customer touch-points across the business. A customer that’s had a great experience is the best possible advocate. In 2013, the Citroen UK network will continue investing in customer-focused staff and training. The rewards will surely follow in the form of an even more profitable future. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? What a strange question. I’m looking forward to driving my new ‘13 plate’ DS5. No, I don’t believe for a moment that it will put people off buying a brand new car in March. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 49


FEATURE.

Google Alex Rose: Dealers should be focusing on aftersales presence online What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? Continuing to help dealers align their marketing with today’s – digitally-reliant – consumer. Despite compelling findings for new, used and aftersales customers (18.2 different websites used before making a new car purchase, top seven media sources used by today’s used car buyer are all digital; owners 16x more likely to turn to the net than offline sources to research servicing) how many dealers can truly say that their marketing efforts and expenditure reflect this reality? What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? My answer will come as no surprise to those who know me: continuing to invest the slimmest of margins upon which dealers operate into marketing channels that are unable to deliver measurable profit back to the business – in the form of phone calls, web enquiries and, ultimately, sales – simply through habit and convenience! ‘Flying blind’ and planning marketing without understanding return is simply not an option in today’s market. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? A tricky one for me to answer as an ‘observer’ of the automotive industry. My gut feeling is that we won’t return to the sales levels seen five or six years ago, sustained as they were by cheap and plentiful credit – and that we will see 2013 sales at a similar level to 2012. The long-term threat lies in today’s teenagers’ relative apathy towards cars and to driving, of course. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? The greatest opportunity to improve, and improve fastest, lies in dealers’ aftersales presence online. Vehicle servicing and MOTs are, like insurance, a grudgingly accepted ‘necessary’ expenditure. Yet drivers renewing their insurance turn to some of the very slickest web experiences out there to make the process as painless as possible. Why – in consumers’ eyes – should booking a service be any different? 50 | CarDealerMag.co.uk

Mini CV Name: Alex Rose ve Job title: Industry manager, automoti Age: 31 Lives: London Drives: BMW E30 325i Convertible o (930 Favourite car ever: Porsche 911 Turb Series, pre-1990) Family? No wed Education: Westminster School, follo Business by Edinburgh University to study the real Studies and Spanish, then out into world in 2005. riments’ Career: Following a couple of ‘expe English in selling door-to-door and teaching the BMW Spain, Rose took up a position on years at graduate scheme. After five happy to Google on ed mov he , knell BMW UK in Brac stry in summer 2010, originally as an indu ager man stry indu ming beco analyst before in late 2011.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Plan your advertising to be where your consumers are: online and, increasingly, on mobile devices. Dealers who aren’t visible online will simply fall off buyers’ radars as they narrow their choice of car and seller. This means a sustained commitment to online marketing across all business areas, with equal focus on your desktop and mobile device presence. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? If we see a dip in sales attributed to superstitions around ’13 reg’ plate change I will willingly perform my next speaker event for Car Dealer magazine in a Spurs shirt!


Auto Trader Craig Stevens: Dealers need to think of themselves as retailers in 2013 What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? The opportunity to help more dealers meet their business objectives by providing them with the tools to maximise new and used car sales. Dealers need to make better use of the market data available with new metrics such as desirability rating, cost to retail and dynamic price positioning set to become the norm in 2013. Dealers also need to understand that the used car market is constantly evolving yet our research shows that 35 per cent of vehicles advertised for more than 60 days have never had a price change. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? The market is still suffering from a lack of quality used car stock. We can see, based on Auto Trader demand levels, that consumer demand for quality used cars cannot currently be met in the short term. Although it’s good news that we’re back to a 2m new car market in 2012, the downstream benefit of this will not be felt for a couple of years, yet. This lack of sufficient stock risks stifling used car opportunities. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Steady growth in new car sales is sustainable if it is the result of long-term strategies by manufacturers. That means matching demand with supply in an orderly manner. Customers get what they want and dealers can manage their business with some certainty. However, ongoing short-term tactical activities could undermine the credibility of this fragile growth. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? By understanding consumer behaviour, stock supply and demand and pricing. That means dealers must embrace the digital revolution and utilise the wealth of data at hand to stay ahead of their competition. A dealer needs to have a strong online presence with a frequently updated and easy to navigate website. A mobile website presence is now also an absolute must, with our latest research showing an 81 per cent year-on-year increase in used vehicle

Mini CV Name: Craig Stevens Job title: Group director digital mark eting Age: 40 Lives: Wimbledon, Greater London Drives: Jaguar XJL Favourite car ever: Audi RS6 Family? Married, no children Education: During his career at Trad er Media Group, Craig has continued to educ ate himself and in 2003 attended the Henley Business School. In 2011, Craig went to Harvard Business School, completi ng the Advanced Management Program 180. Career: Stevens started with Trader Media Group in 1996 and subsequently held a number of posts including managin g director of Ireland. Stevens is now responsib le for digital marketing services within Trad er Media Group and retains his interests abroad by sitting on the board of iAuto in China.

searches from mobile phones to more than 28m in 2012. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Maximising the gross profit potential of their used car operations by implementing best practice. And dealers need to start thinking of themselves as retailers. They need to know the retail demand to understand which cars to buy and need to know the retail price to determine how much to pay for those cars. If they get that right then their used car operation will be a success. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? On the contrary, a ‘13’ plate could be a collector’s item, particularly in the cherished plate market for people called BO13. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 51


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FEATURE.

Hyundai Tony Whitehorn: The industry will remain stable for the foreseeable future What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? The dynamic nature of the automotive industry means there’s many opportunities in spite of the challenging market conditions. Hyundai is building on the foundations set by the launch of eight new products in 2012 with significant investments in fleet sales, the dealer network and importantly the customer experience of the Hyundai brand. We are looking forward to growing the brand by offering customers a desirable and complete package of ownership. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Gaining access to finance and the escalating cost of living will undoubtedly have an effect on new and used car sales alongside the cost of manufacturing vehicles, too. Despite this, the UK is in a relatively good position when compared to the other European markets and Hyundai in particular will continue to offer products that are attractive, efficient and cost-effective to purchase and own. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? The demand for new cars is forecast to continue at the same levels as in 2012 and it will most likely only be in 2014 that we’ll see an upswing in registrations. Hyundai has performed well above the average and will continue to build upon growing market share and sales volumes in 2013. Retail and corporate customers will continue to buy new cars so, barring a sudden economic catastrophe, the car industry will remain relatively stable for the foreseeable future. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? Dealers can enhance the customer experience at their showrooms as car buyers are extremely knowledgeable and shop around before committing to purchase. The market is competitive but it’s important for dealers to capitalise on opportunities by making it quick and easy for the customer to learn and experience their product. For Hyundai, expansion in fleet sales will also allow dealers to capitalise on new avenues of business alongside existing retail sales.

Mini CV Name: Tony Whitehorn Job title: President and CEO Age: 53 Lives: Wokingham, Berkshire Drives: Hyundai Santa Fe Family: Married with three children uated with Education: Cardiff University, grad s omic BSC (Hons) degree in Econ Rover Career: Sponsored graduate with Group. Moved to Renault as field sales training manager. Joined Toyota in 1989 as , manager then moved to roles in fleet s ation oper UK ly final and sales , marketing tor, direc g agin director. Appointed man oted to Hyundai Motor UK in 2005 and prom 2011. in CEO and t current role as presiden

What should dealers be focussing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Customer retention is arguably the most important aspect for dealers to focus on in 2013. Hyundai has enjoyed a period of sustained growth, and those who have initially purchased our ‘i’ products would look to purchase the next generation. PCP offers and service plans provide dealers with the opportunity to retain customers and provide backup services that help to guarantee long-lasting customer partnerships. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? 2012 has been a very positive year for Hyundai and for all new car registrations and we’re expecting that trend to continue into 2013. Early indicators suggest no marked difference in consumer interest in the ‘13’ plate. CarDealerMag.co.uk | 53


FEATURE.

Supagard Nick Horton: Dealers’ complacency can create lasting damage What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? We are looking forward to several opportunities in 2013. The first being the official launch of our newly formed partnership with a prestigious vehicle manufacturer. The partnership will further validate our pedigree within the vehicle protection system sector. We are also looking forward to shifting paradigms within our sector in order to deliver additional value and profitability to our existing and prospective client base. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Complacency. Regardless of the external factors that exist, complacency has the ability to create irreparable damage. The critical shift from potential complacency to continued, appropriate focus is an approach (and attitude) that will allow many organisations within the car industry to create competitive advantage, gain market share and generate long-term prosperity. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Whilst new car registrations broke the two million barrier in 2012, we are still 330,000 registrations short of the 2007 pre-recession level. However, for new car sales growth to continue at its present rate the industry needs a unified approach from the key players that have the ability to impact positively on vehicle registrations, namely; the government, media, vehicle manufacturers and the franchise operators. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? By being focused on the key activities that drive the end result. Too often in business we focus on the required result and not the activities that will generate achievement of this end. This can be a high-risk strategy because without continued focus on the behaviours and activities that drive the end result, our teams can unwittingly lose focus which often leads to a loss of momentum and an increased possibility that targets will not be achieved. 54 | CarDealerMag.co.uk

Mini CV Name: Nick Horton Job title: Sales director Age: 44 Lives: Nottinghamshire Drives: Volvo XC60 d Escort) Favourite car ever: My first car (For sons two ied, Family: Marr school Education: A local Nottinghamshire ma at Diplo ness Busi nal Natio a followed by Clarendon Academy, Nottingham. his Career: Spent the first five years of ice professional career with the Civil Serv as 1992 in stry indu r moto the g before joinin ess a sales executive. Promotions to busin before manager and sales manager followed ent lopm deve moving into the training and sales as gard Supa ed sent repre has sector. He director for the past four years.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? Customer retention. As we find ourselves within an unforgiving market that shows no sympathy for inadequate customer experiences, raising the game in respect of customer retention has to be a corporate priority in 2013 and beyond. Remembering that it is said to cost six times more

time, energy and money to gain a new customer than it does to retain a current customer helps to bring the importance of customer retention into sharp focus. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? Recognising that 84 per cent of people in the UK are said to be superstitious in some way, I would expect some will be worried about the ’13’ reg plate. However, this question creates an immediate association to the answers provided to some of the earlier questions. In short, combating any potential loss due to the new reg plate is very much in our own hands.


Carcom Gerry Lynch: Online sourcing options should be the focus What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? We are bringing a new, online remarketing product, Carcom, to market in early 2013 which we believe will play a vital role in facilitating the efficient exchange, sourcing and sales of used cars within the professional dealer networks. Carcom will provide dealers with unique access to used cars from all the major sources of product in a manner whereby everyone benefits and dealers are helped to raise the tempo of their used car sales and margins. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? The UK market for the next few years will be critically short of quality retailable used cars. This is a major problem because used sales contribute so much to dealer bottom-line profits. Industry bodies report overall dealer returns are under 3 per cent of sales and the high-volume fleet groups are under two per cent. Any downturn in used vehicle revenue and margin caused by an inability to access stock could have serious ramifications for their entire business. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? The UK is the only one of the top-five EU markets to grow year to date and there is speculation that given some intense promotional campaigns by carmakers, the UK is taking up some of the slack in excess capacity caused by drops in demand elsewhere in mainland Europe. Our view is that the unforced volume market in 2013 will grow marginally in response to a slow rise in retail demand. Preregistered volumes will continue to cloud the situation, however, and may destabilise late-year values of used cars. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? A more aggressive stance on part-exchange dealing to reflect recent higher used values will boost dealers’ new and used car sales. Also, it is not only the large dealer groups and plcs that conduct successful national fleet supply business. Fleets and leasing companies value customer service

and it is very often the case that the small to medium individual outlet or dealer group is able to provide a higher level of service and still retain a respectable margin on this business.

Mini CV Name: Gerry Lynch Job title: Chief executive Age: 62 Lives: Edinburgh Drives: Rover 600 Favourite car ever: Triumph Stag Rachel Family? Two daughters, Kirsten and . Cody son, step and a school in Education: Both primary and high s, the omic Econ and ics Polit BA h. Edinburg University of Reading. before Career: Graduate entry BL Cars Ltd , leaving sales of tor direc joining BCA rising to chief as plc CFS of d boar the join to in 1996 cape Inch with ds perio t executive. Lynch spen ng up setti re befo wed follo logic Auto and and his own consultancy business in 2008 in om Carc at team the g joinin rly latte March 2012.

What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future? Analysis of dealer websites suggests that around half of franchised dealers’ used car volume comes from the three to five-year-old age group and they face several years now when sourcing these cars is going to be increasingly difficult. They need to consider extending their age/mileage parameters to embrace older cars and review their forward stock profiling. Online sourcing options should be the focus, so cars can be sold without moving them and upstream sales opportunities offered. Finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? Where there are customers who do have a worry, the DVLA has said they can have a 62 plate. Our view is that most people will accept the 13 plate. There is a view that the 13 plate might be popular with buyers, particularly those who personalise CarDealerMag.co.uk | 55


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FEATURE.

Contact Advantage Rob Lewis: The focus should be on doing the basics really well What opportunities are you looking forward to in the car industry in 2013? Web-based developments coupled with higher manufacturer standards at outlet level will undoubtedly drive in change in 2013. Whilst retail will continue to be difficult, as is often the case, businesses become more innovative when times are hard. We at CA invested heavily in 2012 in new technology, particularly mobile. I am confident we will finally start to see the tools the customer is increasingly demanding. What’s the biggest threat to the car industry in the coming 12 months? Complacency for many businesses is tripping dealers up. There remains poor IT infrastructure, poor control of sales process and, on occasion, poor new car sales training in relation to vehicle complexity. With the availability of online information these days, often customers are better informed than us. Many sales teams struggle with change, whereas the customers are all using smart technology and social media. Dealers aren’t always keeping up, with some even considering returning to paper as a solution, instead of embracing and investing in new media, which ultimately saves them both cash on their marketing spend and enhances customer interaction. Can this period of sustained new car sales growth continue at its present rate or is the industry creating a smoke screen that will be blown away? Cars are the only flexible way of having a highquality lifestyle, outside of possibly London, and Brits have become reluctant to walk! New cars are extremely economical and now have the ability to link with smart phones and other lifestyle equipment to deliver a home from home. In my view sales will hold up with funky design such as Fiat’s 500, Nissan’s Juke, and the ever-increasing range of electric vehicles will find markets and continue to drive volume. For example, iPhones are expensive but sales are phenomenal – people want to enjoy life, and lifestyle cars are firmly in that mix. How can dealers capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013? High quality wi-fi and related infrastructure is what

Mini CV Name: Rob Lewis ve Job title: Managing director automoti Age: 43 Lives: Finchampstead, Berkshire Drives: Range Rover Favourite car ever: Jaguar E-Type Family: Married eight Education: Left school at 16 with national O-Levels to join Lloyds Bank’s inter business in ma diplo BTEC d plete com division, year d plete com studies at night school and re befo y Surre of y ersit Univ at 1 of an MBA dropping it to undertake an MBO. / Career: After 13 years with Lombard ent FNMF including a long-term secondm CRM of head ately ultim nce, Fina to Citroen ing a and customer retention before lead eting successful MBO of one of his mark Business functions in 2002 to form Actuate marketing sales after and CRM This . Solutions national business was acquired by MSX Inter to view a with 2011 in CA d Joine in 2007. in the UK developing the business both with and internationally.

customers want. Dealers can see customers enjoy smart technology, every piece of data reflects that fact, yet some dealers struggle with even collecting email addresses, let alone using them. Email and digital communication is now what customers expect, the good news for the industry is with minimum investment the quality of delivery can

be excellent and the on-going delivery costs very low. What should dealers be focusing on to ensure growth and a sustained future in 2013? The focus should be doing the basics really well – training and coaching coupled with the latest technology. It is the customer experience that separates one dealer from another. We see huge investment in premises and yet the customer’s interaction with a salesman has hardly changed. 2013 will see the convergence of online, mobile and traditional media via tools like iPads. And finally, for the superstitious, are you worried the ‘13 reg’ plate change will put buyers off? The number 13 is a chance for sales teams to sell private plates and make some extra profit. The DVLA website is simple to use and the process is refined if the sales team have web access. In China, which has half the world’s population, 13 is just another number whereas four is unlucky as it sounds similar to death. For us 13 is deemed unlucky because of the number of people who went to the Last Supper. I’m not superstitious – in Guatemala 13 numbers win the state lottery! [CD] CarDealerMag.co.uk | 57


Car Dealer Magazine – Automotive Influencers 2013