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Dealer profile Pendragonwill be gone. The way we sell new cars today will have gone."If a £3.6 billion turnover group with more than 250 franchised dealerships and employing 9,300 people can make such a prediction, that's a signal to all motor retailers that they must move with the times."Over the last 20-odd years I've done this job, every single year it's become tougher. So there's absolutely no realistic possibility of that changing. Everything is faster, more competitive, more transparent. "Whichever piece of the business you look at it's got to be getting better in order to stand still, or you've got Sponsored byContinues"Don't be distracted by the wider economic climate"An underlying message of Trevor Finn's interview with AM was that dealers should concentrate on what they can control and influence rather than be distracted by the wider economic climate and media gloom.While he recognised the "dark clouds" over the industry in 2012, Finn's assurance was that it was nothing dealers hadn't seen before. He described the 2008 credit crunch as "a much darker place" than today, and said Pendragon had moved forward since then and expects to move forward again this year."When we went into 2008 it was a little bit like driving into a big fog bank and nobody knew what was inside it, which was quite a scary thing. Looking at 2012 people will see the fog bank, but this time they're much more familiar with what's in there and what to do," he added.Finn showed AM slides tracking the trend of new car market in the 1989 recession and subsequent slow recovery against the current economy. It took almost a decade to reach pre-recession levels. Excluding the influence of 2009's scrappage scheme, the post-2008 market is following a similar pattern, which suggests it will could be 2020 before it peaks again."If you know that then you don't have to get yourself all excited about how it's going to be great again in two years time, do you?" said Finn. "That was last time, so why would it be any different."to be getting better to stand still. A lot of people miss that. From a leadership point of view if a lot of people are doing what they were doing five years ago, the way they did it five years ago, their output isn't as great as it would have been five years ago."So Pendragon is changing. Gone are the days of massive acquisitions of the likes of Reg Vardy and CD Bramall. Now the group has to grow its own. Finn believes its profitability can be doubled, even trebled, by improving what it already has and does.He is pragmatic about the new car market - produc-tion schedules are set, cars will come, and the cars will get registered, he said. "So for us it's quite an easy thing

New car marketNewsDealerprofileNew carnewsUsed carRecruitmentanalysisNewsdigestShowroomto predict. The only thing that's difficult to predict is do we make any margin, and do the car manufacturers make any margin on the cars they sell, and that's the thing that moves around. But it's not going to be any less competitive than last year."Used cars and aftersalesLike many franchised dealers, Finn sees the areas of used car sales and aftersales as key areas for growth. Pendragon has invested significantly in technology and processes which it believes will bring benefits to a busi-ness of such considerable scale. One example is its support centre at its Loxley House headquarters near Nottingham, which has 300 opera-tives. Every call to any of Pendragon's dealerships is initially received here before being directed to the rele-vant person at the requested dealership. That's a total of five million calls per year.The team also makes two million outbound calls a year to customers about deferred work or due services and MoTs, and takes 750,000 in-bound service booking calls from customers, with the operative systematically alerted to any outstanding work which had been previ-ously identified. It has the technology to input appoint-ments in real-time into every dealership's DMS, and the process ensures that customers' data is gathered in full and efficiently.Another example of the technology Finn holds dear is its dealership security system. Cameras and sensors at every dealership enable a small team in a secure room at Loxley House to monitor every site in the group. If a sensor is triggered out of hours, it pops up a live camera feed to the secure room together with contact data of the local police. The security operatives can speak live to the visitor, to advise them to return when the business is open, and can alert the police if the visitor appears suspicious.It saves having a security patrol for every single deal-ership. It's a clear illustration of how Pendragon sees technology as a way to improve results and reduce costs in the future. "We're interested in smarter ways of doing things using technology. So we've got a big thrust on systems "Whichever piece of the business you look at, it's got to be getting better in order to stand still"Trevor FinnContinues