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New car marketNewsDealerConferenceUsed caranalysisNewsRecruitmentdigestDealerprofileShowroommainstream end, JCT600 is already synonymous with Vauxhall in Yorkshire and Tordoff thinks Ford would offer a good opportunity too. He's also closely following the growth of the Korean brands. Talks are underway with Hyundai, and the group took on To find out more about AMi Click here20002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120,000,00015,000,00010,000,0005,000,000-5,000,000-10,000,000060%40%0%20%its first Kia dealership at the start of the year at Castleford. Four months on Tordoff says it's easy to see why the cars are selling, thanks to great quality and good pricing. He's also keen to grow with the group's most prof-itable existing brands, particularly Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.Expansion will be funded from retained profits and the group's banking facilities. But Tordoff said that a benefit of being family-owned is the board can wait for the right opportunity in the right location. "As much as we have appetite to grow we want to expand in the right geographical area. We've no ambition to expand nationally. It takes a lot of manpower and resources to buy a business, even a successful one, and culturally align that with your existing business. "The main challenge is making the most of the businesses we have, to continue to take them on the cultural journey we're on and reap the rewards. It's a journey with no destination, so we will always see improvements to be made."Pre-tax profitGearingAMi service shows JCT600 quickly shook off the 2008

AM PROMOTION Dealer insightBy Tim Smith, commercial director of GForces, web manage­ment and marketing specialistshe UK new car market is not being kind to dealers right now, and recent confirmation that the economy has dipped back into recession is only likely to make matters worse by further under­mining consumer confidence. A shortage of good quality used car stock and a decline in the after­sales sector isn't helping either.Against this problematic backdrop customer retention is predictably assuming ever greater importance - more than 80% of dealers regard retention as their biggest challenge (Alphera Financial Services). One factor aiding the retention effort is the increase in the propor­tion of cars now being bought on dealer finance, now at 64.5% of all new vehicle purchases. Almost two-thirds of dealers report that it's easier to retain customers who have purchased a vehicle using finance. Of course, to secure the customer in the first place, it is essential for dealers to incorporate a finance calculator on their website. A significant 61.5% of the UK's top 200 dealer still have websites with no facility for visitors to generate simple finance quotations, so there's lots of opportunity to stand out from the crowd.The internet is playing a much bigger part in retention, providing both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge comes from the fact that web-savvy customers are now increasingly willing to travel to secure a deal which in most cases will have been found online. On the positive side, dealers now have access to a wide range of well-proven online tools for marketing their new and used car stock (as well as their parts, merchandise and service offerings) and for engaging with customers before and after the sale in order to foster loyalty. Effective retention is all about having regular, high-quality engage­ment with the customer ahead of the sale, and then maintaining that well after the purchase has been made. For example, Live Chat - which enables customer prospects to interact with sales staff via online messaging - is a simple, but highly effective way of improving the quality of interaction with a sales prospect. By looking at consumer habits outside the outside the automotive industry, it is possible to find new ways of improving retention, notably by enabling customers to take greater control.For example, once a customer has made a purchase, a dealer website can host a portal where the details of the individual customer's vehicle, service record and personal infor­mation is kept. Customer retention starts with getting the basics rightBrands like Amazon and iTunes have been doing this for years, and customers go back and update their personal information (such as phone numbers or addresses) themselves because it is beneficial for them to do so. An online portal like this has obvious benefits for an after- sales department. With vehicle details stored on the dealer system, along with up-to-date, customer-maintained personal information, a dealership can direct service reminders and marketing promotions in a much more precise - and effective - fashion. This could be by make, model, recorded mileage or any number of other factors. Almost 40% of owners forget to book their car in for its first MoT after three years, and an automated system could help lower this figure significantly - to the benefit of the dealer as well as the car owner. Were dealers to combine a customer portal with suitable online tools, whole elements of the car dealing business could be adminis­tered via the internet. Most of the software already exists for lifecycle CRM to take to the web - from Live Chat and finance calculators to online service plans and service booking. An over-arching customer portal would brings this all together into a holistic platform, helping ensure that customers keep returning. Both Amazon and iTunes have a very high percentage of repeat busi­ness simply because they get the basics right. From pre-sales browsing through to direct marketing to help inspire the next purchase, they provide what the customer needs by letting them fill in the details and define their preferences. It's only a matter of time before car dealers find they must do like­wise to maximise their own customer retention. In association withTim Smith is the commercial director for GForces Web Management, who deliver the most effective digital strategies for market leading dealer groups and manufacturers. Tim is responsible for defining GForces' company strategy, marketing activities, product and service innovation. Tim has an extensive knowledge of IT and its applications to business having worked in the industry for 20 years. Over the past seven years he has helped shape GForces to become one of the most prominent providers of digital solutions to the automotive industry.ABOUT THE AUTHORDealers have access to well-proven online tools to help foster customer loyaltyTCustomer retention is business protection