Transforming a used car dealer into a booming female-friendly operation

Gatehouse Car Sales is the used car site of Aylesbury Motor Group, offering a range of quality models. They adopted our flagship warranty scheme Safe and Sound as part of their female-friendly transformation for Channel 4’s Mary Portas Secret Shopper in early 2015, to provide all customers with a buying experience equivalent to that of their franchised sites.

Gatehouse Car Sales offer a prestigious customer care package with each vehicle which includes the full Safe and Sound programme, 12 month MOT, membership to the FOXY driver’s club and spa treatments for their female buyers. With over 50 years experience in the industry, they pride themselves on delivering transparent and reliable customer service in a no-pressure environment.

What were your objectives?

We wanted to make Gatehouse Cars the number one choice for reliable used vehicles in the Aylesbury area and as a family-run business, maintaining a good reputation is especially important. I’ve worked in the motor trade since leaving school and it has always been very male dominated, but it seems that the majority of dealers are still neglecting their female customers. We contacted Mary Portas to help us become more female-friendly and show all customers that they could buy from us with confidence. Females influence some 80% of car purchases so we knew we had to up the ante and cater for them by making a number of significant changes. Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective and a kick up the backside!

Why did you choose the WMS Group?

I’ve known your Managing Director for around 20 years and Gatehouse have used the WMS warranties for the last 10 years. We upgraded to Safe and Sound in late 2014 when we were in the process of filming the site relaunch with Mary. We saw how transparent it was and felt that it perfectly complimented our service objectives. The majority of our customers really value the scheme and we have seen our number of word-of-mouth referrals increase dramatically as a result. The warranty premiums are slightly higher than we were paying previously, but that’s understandable given the extra coverage.

What was your strategy?

We promote the scheme on our website, through the point of sale / showroom materials and on our Auto Trader feed. We are also in the process of creating a web page just for Safe and Sound, which will provide an overview of the scheme so potential customers can read about it before visiting us. When they enter the forecourt, we use it as the main selling point and discuss each element in detail. It’s a very welcoming and reassuring brand, and they like that they are receiving over £500 of extras free of charge.

What improvements could the WMS Group make?

Perhaps a PDF support document for our website and to give to the customer. It would also be useful to show Safe and Sound customer reviews separate to the WMS Group reviews. But aside from those I honestly don’t think there are any areas you could improve!

What are your objectives for 2015?

Our mission is to ensure that we continue exceeding our customers’ expectations and offering the best experience possible within the local area. We have just taken on a female sales executive to accompany our female buyers on test drives if required, and are also recruiting further staff to supportunderwoods_headshot Gatehouse’s growth.

Any advice for other dealers when choosing a warranty provider?

Dealers will get what they pay for, so if they really want to look after customers then I don’t recommend scrimping on warranty cover. The relationship we have with your company and the trust we have in you to look after our customers speaks for itself. We feel that the WMS Group is a professional business partner, and cannot recommend you enough.

Paul Cockton is the Sales Director of Aylesbury Motor Group, responsible for overseeing the entire operations of all three sites. For more information visit www.aylesburymotorgroup.co.uk.

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