Fleet News

The latest Sewells' Insight

FLEET NEWSNET'S sister title Sewells has released its latest Insight newsletter.

Here are the stories from the March edition which reveal best practise tips and findings from Sewells' research.

It is also available to download as a PDF here.

Sewells Database and Who Owns Who: Return to sender

Millions and millions of pieces of mail are returned to the sender every year because they are incorrectly addressed.

Companies waste thousands of pounds on marketing themselves and their products to businesses that have changed hands or have long since gone.

Most direct mail yields a number of ‘gone aways’ but the nature of the retail automotive industry and the amount of acquisitions and mergers - not to forget closures - lends itself to a much higher rate of returns. One only has to read AM regularly to see that groups and dealers are changing hands regularly.

Sewells are established providers of automotive databases to suppliers and manufacturers in the industry and have over the past few months put together several initiatives to be able to reflect these changes on a real time basis. This process is in the final stages of development and quite soon Sewells will be able to increase their database packages to include various aspects of industry data including data mapping and vehicle registrations.

Publishers of Sewells, EMAP Automotive, also publish AM and Parkers’s Car Guide, so are in prime position to capture these changes via their news and commercial products.

Developments on the franchised dealer databases will also have a positive effect on the cut-down hard copy version which details dealer groups with 3+ sites and their trading locations. Sewells first published Who Owns Who in the Retail Motor Trade, as it was called then, in June 1990.

The names and the sizes of the holding companies in the library copy that Sewells has bear no resemblance to what we have in the industry now. Reg Vardy plc at the time had a mere 11 sites, whilst Lookers was a much bigger entity with 25 sites. At the time, Sewells reported that there were 8000 or so franchised dealers in the United Kingdom that existed as part of a group.

The latest fieldwork for the January edition of Who Owns Who shows that are 551 holding companies that between them have 4,951 franchises and trade from 3,903 sites. Available now, the January 2006 edition is once again sponsored by Colliers CRE, Chartered Surveyors and International Property Consultants.

For more information or a FREE sample of the databases available from Sewells please telephone 01733 468254. Alternatively visit www.sewells.co.uk.

Pay Guide 2006: Car Sales execs feel pain in the wallet

Falls in commission have cut average pay for car salespeople in the wake of falling new car sales and dealer profits. But the skills shortage has seen technicians command an average 5.6% pay rise, while apprentice numbers are rising.

BMW dealer principals earned an average £83,174 last year – 44% more than the national all-franchise dealer principal average total pay of £57,771.

The tenth 2006 edition of the RMI/Sewells Retail Motor Industry Pay Guide reveals a fall in total pay for car sales executives, almost certainly as a result of deteriorating car sales and dealer profitability. And with a few exceptions, other motor trade staff also experienced a slowdown in growth of total pay last year.

Total pay, including basic and commission, for sales executives and business managers working in the franchised sector fell by 1.1% between 2004 and 2005. This happened despite an increase in basic pay of 4.5%, because of a decline in commission payments. Commission makes up over 60% of sales executives’ total pay, and is usually awarded on the profits retained on each car sold.

On the other hand, service technicians and mechanics in both franchised dealerships and independent garages earned some of the largest increases in both basic and total salary.

For example, franchised dealer service technicians achieved an increase in total pay of 5.6% between 2004 and 2005. This continues a run of increases in total salary exceeding 5% since 1999 for these employees.

Propelling the increases for service productives is the well-known skills shortage in this area. And the 369 respondents to the 2006 Pay Guide survey reported a high turnover of service staff – essentially technicians and mechanics – and difficulties filling these positions. This is a very similar picture to that described by respondents to Pay Guides since 1999.

In response to the skills shortage in service workshops, dealers and independents have now taken on more apprentices relative to the number of fully-qualified technicians and mechanics. Two years ago, franchised dealers only employed one apprentice for every 4.7 fully-qualified service productive. The 2006 Pay Guide survey found this had improved to a ratio of 4.0 to 1. A similar improvement was noted for independent garages.

While this improvement is welcome, 2006 Pay Guide respondents clearly understood that even more apprentices are still needed. 60% of franchised dealers and 29% of independents claimed that they intend to take on more apprentices or trainees in the next 12 months - the majority in the service workshop.

For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

Engine Oil Supplier Survey

This month sees the launch of the Sewells Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006, which looks at what makes the UK automotive lubricants sector tick. The first Engine Oil and Supplier Survey was published by Sewells in 2001. Since then the service and repair market has been shrinking and this could have had a similar effect on the sales of engine oils. Or has it?

Without doubt the consolidation among oil and lubricant companies now means that competition in this market is extremely tough. The Big Five - Castrol/BP/Duckhams, ExxonMobil, Shell, TotalFinaElf and Texaco - control between 60% and 70% of the market with the rest split between hundreds of smaller independents and regional distributors.

These five companies are clearly taking an aggressive stance in the market, which makes it crucially important to know what satisfies workshops and accessory shops.

So the focus of the Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006 is satisfaction with engine oils and suppliers. It is attitudinal research looking at what workshop and accessory shop managers/proprietors think and feel about the engine oils they sell and the companies supplying them - uniquely comparing all the players on the same basis at the same time.

The survey highlights a whole range of issues including brand awareness, customers’ priorities, supplier strengths and weaknesses, and competitor performance comparisons. In other words it is ‘must have’ research for oil companies and distributors that want to maintain or increase their share of this demanding marketplace.

As well as satisfaction, the Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006 also looks at some quantitative data. For example, it explores the types and viscosities of engine oils in use. Since 2001 there has been quite a turnaround in the most popular choices in these two areas. This year, semi-synthetic oil was used by 60% of franchised workshops and 77% of independent workshops/fast-fits responding to the survey. And 10W/40 was in ‘pole position’ among the wide range of grades now available.

For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

Contract Hire Survey: Top priority first-class communications

Relationships between the country’s fleet owners and their contract hire suppliers is improving, according to the 2006 ‘Fleet Contract Hire Survey’ from Sewells Information & Research.

This survey which is in its sixth year focuses on the key issues that drive fleet operators satisfaction with their contract hire and leasing suppliers, issues that also have a big influence on which contract hire suppliers fleet managers give their business to, and which not.

Sewells’ ‘Fleet Contract Hire Survey’ looks at the nuts and bolts of what makes the business relationship between fleets and their contract hire suppliers work.

The research which is very comprehensive polls fleet operator views from the initial vehicle quotation all the way through to supplying the vehicle, ongoing driver and logistical back-up, returning the vehicle at the end of the agreement, and effective management and administration support.

Nearly 1,000 fleets took part in the 2006 Sewells’ survey, between them operating around a quarter of a million vehicles – revealing exactly what they felt they needed on the contract hire front to help them run their company car fleet, and their own company, effectively and efficiently.

Fleet managers’ top priority for a successful and lasting partnership with their leasing suppliers was first-class communications. They expect to deal highly competent senior management who make themselves readily available – and, generally, to deal with friendly, hugely competent people, they can trust, who understand their company’s needs, and provide hassle-free back-up that lets fleets concentrate on with running their own business.

Fleet operators also require contract hire companies to respond very quickly, and well, to issues that are important to their company, to be flexible in resolving contractual queries, solving problems and complaints rapidly, and providing first-class driver support.

At the outset, fleet managers look to their leasing suppliers to thoroughly understand their business’ needs, provide a speedy, competitive quotation and, where appropriate, supply reliable information and sound advice. They also, critically, expect their vehicles to be delivered where and when promised, in excellent quality and condition.

The Sewells Report found the number who think their relationship with their contract hire supplier is improving is three times as many those who believe it is slipping back.

The Sewells ‘Fleet Contract Hire Survey’ provides the contract hire industry with an invaluable insight into fleet operators’ funding and fleet management requirements, how they live up to fleets’ needs and expectations – and where to focus to significantly improve their all-round service and support to the fleet sector.

For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

Sewells’ Best Practice Guides: Sales Meetings – how to make them work

Sales meetings have traditionally been used to update sales staff on product knowledge, selling skills, sales goals, marketing direction, administrative and service needs, etc. But they should also be used as an opportunity to encourage, reward and inspire.

Front-line sales executives take enough of a beating from competitors and the occasional unhappy customer. They should be able to look forward with anticipation and enthusiasm to the atmosphere of the sales meeting.

Each morning’s sales meeting need only last about 20 minutes to half-an-hour so it doesn’t encroach on the selling day too much. Even though it is short, it can be extremely effective so long as you carefully plan each day’s agenda in advance.

Keep your discussion to points that concern the whole sales team – points that are dedicated to improving sales and profitability, and conclude by summarising the ‘action points’. Topics of specific relevance to individual salespeople should be kept for your daily one-on-one discussions with them.

At the meeting, each sales executive should review their previous day’s activities:

  • Who is ready to buy - Don’t try to discuss every single lead. You can’t possibly remember or deal with 200-300 leads at an open meeting. What you can remember, though, is the people who are ‘hot to buy’ during the course of the next few days. Of course, these should already have been registered on the sales manager’s Record of Enquiries Sheet and in the sales executive’s daily planner or diary.

  • Cars appraised - If someone has gone to the length of getting his or her car appraised, there is a strong chance they are going to be changing their car soon.

  • Deals - Proposed, but not yet closed.

  • New or used cars wanted - If someone is looking for a specific car, every stone should be upturned trying to find it.

  • Orders - Taken the previous day.

    It’s also a good idea to have two ‘white boards’ up in the sales manager’s office. The first should highlight sales achieved by each sales executive:

  • Telephone enquiries
  • Telephone appointments
  • Appraisals (target/actual)
  • Demonstrations (target/actual)
  • Sales (target/actual)
  • Gross profit (target/actual)
  • Warranty sales (target/actual)
  • Accessories sales (target/actual)
  • Hot prospects for the day

    The second white board should highlight action points that emerge from your daily sales meetings. Review progress on these items each morning and revise the action points. They should not be removed until they have been satisfactorily accomplished.

    Making everything visible in this way dispels confusion and misunderstandings. It’s key to getting things done the way you want them done.

    The daily sales team meeting should also be used for short, sharp bursts of training. Here’s a list of topics you might try to cover:

  • Following up existing customers
  • Getting referrals
  • Finding and motivating ‘bird dogs’
  • Following up be-backs, walk-ins and no-shows
  • Finding new prospects
  • Building a customer and prospect database
  • Planning the selling day
  • Selling to service and bodyshop customers
  • Feedback on mystery shopping of your close competitors
  • Role-playing, taking a phone enquiry
  • Selling to women
  • Qualifying the customer
  • Presenting a proposal
  • Overcoming objections
  • Closing the sale
  • Selling warranties
  • Selling accessories

    For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

    This extract is taken from Sales Management, Part I.

    For more information about the full collection of Sewells Best Practice Guides that cover every aspect of your business, take advantage of the half price offer …

    Sewells’ Best Practice Guides have been providing dealers with easy to read and follow tips to help them run their business more effectively … and more profitably for years. They are packed full of common sense, practical guidelines and innovative new approaches to the challenges dealerships face every day.

    Each book contains short best practice-style articles, written by experts who have many years’ experience of successfully managing dealerships and who have a understanding of what you are up against day-to-day in your business. They focus on all of the important issues and offer easy to implement solutions which are ideal for managers who want to develop their coaching abilities.

    Sewells’ Best Practice Guides have always been outstanding value for money – at just £50.00, but now for a limited period you can buy them for just £25.00* each plus postage and packing. If you successfully implement just some of the profit-boosting or cost-saving ideas in each of our guides, you are sure to recoup your investment many times over. For detailed contents of each of the guides please visit www.sewellls.co.uk or for more information please call 01733 468254, and we’ll be pleased to tell you more about them.

    *This offer applies to a minimum order value of £75.00 and is available throughout March 2006

    For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

    The range of Best Practice Guides includes …

  • Sales Management, Part I
    For all sales managers. How to be a better coach. How to be a leader. Recruitment. Induction. Staff retention. Staff productivity. Pay plans. Sales incentives. Sales targets. Making your sales meetings work. How to work out exactly what a customer enquiry really costs.
  • Sales Management, Part II
    More for sales managers. Marketing ideas. Ideas for motivating sales teams. Key topics for coaching the team. Better prospecting. Telephone techniques. How to handle the part-exchange. Selling more add-ons with the car. Customer follow-up. How to get referrals every time. The handover process.

  • Used Car Management
    Specialist advice for the used car department. Developing a used car strategy. Controlling used car margins. Improving the way you display used cars. Stock management. Avoiding the problems of over-age cars. Used car reconditioning. Trade cars. Loan cars. Diversifying into new areas of business.

  • Fleet Sales Management
    For dealers and their fleet sales managers to fine-tune their corporate sales. Defining the market. Defining your strategy. Developing a fleet sales team. Finding the customers. The fleet sales process. Management controls. Retaining your customers. Action planning. Preparing for fleets of the future.

  • F & I Management
    For dealers and their F&I or business managers to fine-tune the way they sell finance. The KPIs of good performance. How to make sure all the income reaches your accounts. Monitoring progress. Sell more extended warranties and credit protection. Backselling products at delivery. Business Manager pay plans. Customer qualification and referrals. Finance prospecting.

  • Selling Skills for Car Sales Professionals
    Designed to motivate the car sales specialist. What the job today really involves. Eight key stages in the sales process, from qualifying customers to referrals and related selling. Prospecting the easy way. Tried and tested ways to kick-start sales. How to communicate more effectively with customers.

  • Selling Skills: Prospecting & Using the Phone
    A coaching and development guide for sales managers. Setting the right targets. Planning to sell. Finding new prospects. Managing the process. Basic telephone techniques. The need for good customer records. Measuring, monitoring and improving. Communication skills.

  • Aftersales Management, Part I

    Best practice guidelines for service managers and their staff. Customer retention. Aftersales marketing and advertising. Targeting older cars. Making it easy for customers. Setting your labour rates. Developing your service receptionists. How to identify those ‘expectation hotspots’ and deliver what customers want. How to turn your aftersales business into a selling department.

  • Aftersales Management, Part II More for the service manager. Workshop loading and control. Setting up a shift system. Workshop quality measurement. Pay plans and bonus schemes. Interpreting the inter-firm comparisons. How to turn your debtors into cash. Controlling unauthorised credit. Controlling warranty costs.

  • Parts Management

    Tips and techniques for parts managers. Reviewing your trade parts strategy. Developing you retail business. How to sell more accessories. Incentive schemes for parts staff. Internal charging. Parts stocktaking. Parts stock turn. Profiting from obsolescent stock. Parts e-commerce. Calculating the true cost of parts sales.

    For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

    Coming soon from Sewells ...

    Franchise Networks 2006 Sewells’ longest established report, brings together essential data and market intelligence from authoritative sources, some already published and some newly researched for this report.

    Dealer Attitude Survey Fieldwork will start in April for the 16th Sewells Dealer Attitude Survey. The 2006 report will solicit the views of franchised dealers on over 120 crucial areas directly affecting the viability of their dealership, and their commitment to the franchise.

    New Projects Sewells will be striving to publish several new research projects during 2006, including, primary research that looks at the effectiveness of manufacturer training in dealerships, and a separate project assessing the profitability and the viability of manufacturer used car programs.

    Motorbikes To fulfil the requirements of suppliers and manufacturers in the motorbike market, Sewells is planning to publish market intelligence reports and primary research. Sewells has over 40 years experience in publishing reports and research for the automotive market.

    For more information call 01733 468254 or visit www.sewells.co.uk.

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