I sigh when I hear the phrase “We will never get a salesperson to do that”.  In fairness when I was managing sales teams, I would have definitely said it too.

Recently I have been working very closely with our vAutoStock client Dutch dealer group Broekhuis and have been fascinated to see how they operate.  We have just partnered with them on their successful BAS (Click2Trade in the UK) trade auction platform.

Broekhuis have 50 locations representing 13 different brands.  Their turnover is €927m and Profit was €24m.  They sell 18,500 new vehicles, 22,000 used vehicles. 

The structure of their branches is very similar to the UK, General Manager, Sales Manager and Service Manager.  Finance, Parts and Administration is handled centrally.  On a side note another figure that stood out to me was they have 30 administrators supporting 50 locations and each administrator completes 1,900 deal files per year.

Moving onto the point of this article, the dumbing down of the Sales Consultant.  When I visit showrooms, there is often a queue of Sales Consultants waiting to speak with a harassed Manager for a valuation, finance quote, new vehicle quote, problem or to find them a vehicle to sell.  The customer is sitting at the desk looking bored, waiting online or by the phone for a response.  Back and forth the Sales Consultant goes and if the customer is lucky the Manager will get involved to close the sale.  As an industry it has been self-created by taking away authority and we have lost a lot of good people because of it.

In Holland the Sales Consultant is responsible for looking after the customer from start to finish.  This includes putting a price on their part-exchange, stacking a deal and arranging finance.  They do of course run some deals past the Sales Manager if they are not quite sure, but that is more for comfort than need. 

Giving this amount of autonomy creates a better salesperson and attracts better talent.  Sure, they get it wrong from time to time but this is handled by discussing the error and working to avoid it in the future.  They are still measured on how many calls they make, how many appointments, offers made, sold vehicles, part exchanged prices given versus trade in and profit per deal. 

Because the Sales Manager is not tied up with every deal and with all the reports taken care of via their systems, they are free to mentor and help improve each salesperson to achieve their targets.  The Sales Manager also have their own smaller sales target to keep them selling and top up their own income. 

In addition to this, each salesperson still takes photos of the stock, advertise the stock and in some instances the experienced one’s source stock for the forecourt. 

So, when I hear “We will never get a salesperson to do that” I think maybe we should go Dutch.

When I have spoken to industry colleagues about this, most think it would not be possible to revert to this model now.  I can’t help but think maybe now is the perfect time.  Used vehicle prices have almost become fixed with the introduction of things like Autotrader price markers and strong demand.  More and more new cars are having their margin structure changed to allow manufacturers online prices to be more aligned to the retail sites and the FCA do not allow much movement on finance rate.  There are lots of tools to make valuing a part exchange easy and our Click2Trade platform allows salespeople to get underwrites on their vehicles at point of enquiry so reduces risk of a trade loss.  And sadly, lest we not forget there are some excellent people looking for jobs. 

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