Meet the Team.
In the first of our new monthly feature “MEET THE TEAM” where we sit down and grab a Coffee and a Chat with various members of TEAM WMS and get their thoughts on several current and key issues.
First up is Head of Business Development for the WMS Group, Keron Hurlstone.
Good Morning Keron and welcome. Can I start by asking how you see 2020 and beyond from your perspective?
I am personally engaged in our industry, and I read the daily updates from the Automotive Press, and frequently talk to my contacts in the industry about how 2020 is going see some of the most challenging but also interesting changes to the Automotive Industry. This is not because of Brexit, but also due to major consolidation in the Dealer Franchised Groups, it’s all about transparency and fairness. The Franchised Sector are embracing these changes, better standards, training, strong internal processes and customer process centres. The Hendy Group, as an example, are a respected innovative business that have a plan regarding their structure, growth plans and are successful in how they deploy it.
The development and investment regarding Online Retailing (OLR) is also a major factor and will bring changes to the Industry. G Forces and Silver bullet have already successfully rolled out a first edition platform, that is allowing the consumer to manage their purchase, and other media companies are all in development for their client bases. I am passionate about OLR and it will be one of the main factors in the years ahead, including the opportunity to finance direct and added value products. We are already talking to these companies to add our warranties in that journey, again exciting and evolving times ahead.
Also, it´s interesting to see the rise of the Independent market, The IMDA, and how they are helping Independent Dealers improve their brands and compete on a level of trust and delivery. MotorTrader Magazine recently hosted an Independent Awards Evening for which WMS Group sponsored and attended with a number of our own independent dealer customers. The Independents are getting better at ensuring they deliver to a professional standard and warranties are a major factor to add value to their business.
We are all witnessing the growth of the Car Supermarkets. They afford great finance options, the choice to drive away that day, warranty packages which again offer stability and trust. It’s going to be about choice and support, which is why WMS Group will be at the forefront and support all the automotive dealer network to ensure we too are part of this change.
We also need to remind each other that the consumer has far more access to the tools they require regarding a car purchase. New or used they are more than capable of understanding the reality of how this impacts their decisions.
For me moving to WMS Group was a major and positive decision. It offers stability to the consumer and transparency and trust on how the second largest purchase after a home is maintained and is an investment rather than a cost. This for me is a major factor of the business I wanted to be part of.
How you have found your first few months at WMS?
Well it has been a change of pace and understanding, even though I have sold raw data to warranty companies in the past, it is the first time I have been involved in the actual Business Development in the warranties. So, it’s been exciting learning how this part of the automotive industry works, the FCA regards Insurance, and why that is so important for our clients.
John Colinswood, WMS Group Managing Director is one of the most positive and supportive people I know. John is building something revolutionary at the WMS Group, which I wanted to be part of.
The support and knowledge of the teams already in place at WMS Group are incredible. They have been so positive welcoming me to the business and ensuring I am supported at every meeting, opportunity and proposal. Including extensive FCA and Compliance training from our Head of Compliance.
With over 22 years in the Automotive Industry I have amassed a considerable network of contacts which I truly believe there is opportunity for discussion and potential partnerships. I am fortunate that a lot of them have contacted me directly to meet and discuss how WMS Group can work with them.
I have been out on the road a lot talking to past and new clients. With even more exciting news to happen in the coming months my role of Head of Business Development, is opening exciting partnerships with established companies and Dealer Groups from Corporate Franchised Dealer Groups, Independents and Car Supermarkets.
It’s a busy and exciting time to work for WMS Group!
Are there any new and exciting plans in place for the next few months?
Yes, some I still can’t talk about as we are under NDAs, it’s about finding new Business Opportunities and growing our Corporate portfolio of clients.
But what I can tell you is we are exhibiting at AM Live on the 7th November which is exciting, and I have already arranged for meetings that day with potential clients and partners. It would be great to see people pop over and say “hello” and catch up.
We are attending the Used Car Dealer Awards on the 25th November and our Brand Ambassador Hollywood Stunt Driver and former Stig, Ben Collins, will be presenting the award for Used Car Dealer Principal of the Year.
How about a brief history of your career to date Keron?
22 years of automotive knowledge, skills, experience, watching and learning, embracing the changes and how this continues to evolve quickly and ensuring I keep on-trend with all these important factors.
It started with Glass’s Guide / EurotaxGlass who taught me the importance of data and teamwork, the opportunity to work with all sectors in the Automotive Industry and how valuable each department is within Dealer Groups.
I was supported by, who I believe to be, one of the very best HR Directors Hannah Joyce, who always strived to improve her management team and helped make me a better Mentor and Manager. Also, became a major influencer in my working life, alongside the Finance Director Helen Ball.
Moving to the RAC – launching RAC Cars was exciting and challenging, it broke the rules on how online classified was perceived. Using the RAC brand to help their customer base, ensuring they had all the tools necessary to engage in the car buying process, including the RAC Warranty programme. It was a clean and professional Online Classified Website and I am proud of the hard work and that was needed to make the launch the success it was. Securing over 350,000 clean, live cars for sale was a massive achievement, eclipsing Motors.com at the time, and a lot of hard work.
Next up was iVendi Ltd, having known James Tew for over 15 years. It was a fabulous opportunity to move my career into Finance and the roadmap they had in place was exciting. Also changing the way car dealers would be able to manage their finance leads, soft checks and converting far more quality conversions in a fair and transparent process. The ongoing development and partnerships were unparalleled in the industry.
Having bought on some of iVendi’s largest clients I was very proud of the success and managed my major accounts with total integrity and respect.
Great to meet you and catch up over Coffee. Join us again next month for another “Meet the Team”.