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New car marketNewsNewsdigestShowroomAMAwardsNew carnewsAM IndexRecruitment Continues overAM Digest News round-upDealer newsPendragon gets Leeds BMW sitePendragon has bought Scotthall BMW in Leeds from Jardine Motors Group. Jardine had operated the site, which is a case study on aftersales in the December 2011 issue of AM magazine, for 20 years. BMW said it will continue its partnership with Jardine in the south of England. The transaction is due to complete in the New Year, and all staff will transfer to Pendragon.Source AM December 20Read more....Award for Smithy GarageMitsubishi Motors UK has named Smithy Garage in Gwynedd, Wales, as its 2011 Dealer of the Year. The award was presented to John Roberts, a director of the franchise, at Mitsubishi's annual dealer conference at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. The carmaker said Smithy Garage, founded by JH Roberts in 1939 and still under family ownership, managed by the founder's sons John, David and Einion, has an established and respected name in its area. It also has a strong reputation for outstanding customer service, a major part of the criteria for the award - 95% of its customers would recommend the business to friends and family.Source AM December 20Read more....Listers' first Land Rover siteListers, the predominantly German and Japanese focused dealer group, has invested in its first Land Rover dealership. It has acquired a site from Droitwich Garages, adding a Land Rover sales and service centre (Listers Land Rover Droitwich) to its porfolio, plus an additional Seat dealership (Listers Seat Droitwich), also on the site.Source AM December 15Read more....Last-minute service slotsBowker Motor Group, with BMW and Mini dealerships in Preston and Blackburn, has signed up with with a view to offering full online discounted servicing to value-conscious customers.Source AM December 14Read more....Kwik-Fit under watchful eyeThe UK motor industry is watching the new owner of Kwik-Fit closely to see whether it will combine its market-leading tyre chain with its existing nationwide wholesale operation. Itochu Corporation said when it bought Kwik-Fit that it would keep the retail business, which has 676 centres in the UK, separate from its Stapletons Tyre Services distribution operation. However, now Itochu has been given clearance by competition authorities to run the businesses freely, the tyre industry is watching closely for signs of integration or co-operation between Kwik-Fit and Stapletons.Source AM December 16Read more....Peugeot dealership closesCar dealer group Nidd Vale closed its Peugeot dealership in Ilkley on December 23. Managing director Neil Crossley told the local newspaper

AM PROMOTION Dealer insightBy Tim Smith, commercial director of GForces, web manage­ment and marketing specialistsT he New Year is typically a tough time for car dealers. The post-Christmas period starts with a financial hangover as consumers shy-away from big purchases, and dismal forecasts of an economic meltdown will only depress confidence further still at the start of 2012.There are measures that dealers can take to ensure that they make the most of the available sales opportunities. Start the year with a clear head and a clear plan - think of them as digital New Year resolutions - and find yourself cashing in. 1 Plan to succeedMore people see and interact with your business via your website than in your showroom, so make sure you have the right web platform. Your website must be user friendly, adaptable and able to evolve with ever changing consumer demands. 2 Be relevantEnsure your marketing strategy is targeting the right people with the right product. Collect and collate data on your customers' prefer­ences and buying habits to make sure your offers are relevant. Don't promote a product to someone who won't gain anything from it.3 Think naturalNatural searches can drive a lot of traffic to your dealership's website. Without search engine optimisation you will be losing out on visitors, leads and ultimately sales. Being high on natural search listings is the single most cost-effective form of generating leads into your business. 4 Be seenTopping the natural search results isn't a certainty and it takes time to achieve. Investing some money in an effective pay-per-click campaign guarantees that your name is on top for popular search terms immediately.5 Keep customers in the loopThe average car buyer may only change their vehicle every three years, but dealers still have an opportunity to email them with relevant offers and updates. For example, if their service is coming up and there is an offer taking place, let them know. If you don't, they will be more inclined to shop around.6 Make new friendsCar buyers are increasingly using social media for research. Around Start the New Year with some online resolutions43% of car buyers use social networking, and a quarter of those are likely to ask their Facebook friends for car-buying advice ( Twitter is also a useful resource. Promote, interact and make customers feel involved. 7 Think mobileMore than 18% of people are accessing the web via a mobile device rather than a PC, while 63% of mobile owners use their device when buying online (The Wall Blog, 2011). A dealership with a website optimised for mobile devices will experience greater conversion among this growing audience. 8 Think videoVideo is one of the internet's killer apps. In-built videos on your website lets you show off your latest model, car care tips or even a staff event. A quarter of 18-24 year-olds will use YouTube for car-buying research (NMA, 2011). If videos are on your website, they don't need to go elsewhere. 9 Operate 24/7Over half of visits to dealer websites occur out of hours. The ability to talk to people, real-time, helps ensure that you don't miss a lead. Customers prefer to interact online with live chat while browsing instead of picking up the phone, so give them the ability to do so. 10 Makes sure aftersales isn't an afterthoughtDealerships make up to 80% of their profits in aftersales, thus effective strategies for customer retention are critically important. Enabling staged servicing payments keeps your cash-flow healthy and your customers coming back. 11 Invest in some new boots The UK tyre market is worth £1.29bn yet dealerships are consistently losing out to fast-fits. The majority of people research tyres online before purchasing them, so give them the functionality to do so on your website. Not only that, allow them to order, book and pay online too.12 Join up the dotsAccording to Google, new car buyers visit just 1.3 dealerships on average. This declining footfall is due to 94% of car buyers undertaking research online. When they do visit, give them a means to continue browsing - like touch screen interfaces, and market your goods and services with show­room displays. Consumers don't like high-pressure sales tactics, so empower them to drive the deal themselves by making the car buying experience as seamless as possible. Stick to these resolutions and you will be well-set for a success- ful 2012. In association withTim Smith is the commercial director for GForces Web Management, a leading provider of web software and services for automotive main dealers. He has an extensive knowledge of IT and its applications to business having worked in the industry for 20 years. Over the past five years he has helped shape GForces become the leading motor retail web agency in the UK. GForces builds, manages and markets dealer websites and provides the ultimate selection of tools to ensure main dealers and specialist automotive retailers compete effectively online.ABOUT THE AUTHORBegin 2012 with a clear head and a clear plan and you could find yourself cashing in