When I started my career, the motor retail industry was, in many ways, very different to that which we see today. The competition was very fierce and there weren’t many opportunities in the sector – I was a mechanic at the age of 15, and was successful in working my way up through the ranks, firstly being employed as an engineer, then going on to become a group services manager, general manager and then dealer training manager, before starting my own business. The market was also very diverse in the 60s and 70s, with more manufacturers and dealerships. It was very fragmented. And you also have to remember that the road system – and the experience of motoring – has seen huge changes over the last 50 years too.
The motor trade is still extremely competitive, but it’s less fragmented and is driven by volume.Car ownership has increased dramatically; customers have much higher spending power now and easier access to finance too.
Of course, technological progress has had a huge impact on the sector, too. But there’s no substitute for excellent customer service. At Vic Young, 89 per cent of our sales come from returning customers and our latest customer survey showed that 98 per cent of our customers were very happy with the level of service they received.
Aftersales care is also essential nowdays. People want to feel valued and to be looked after – even after they find their perfect car. You have to build relationships with your customers.
A car is one of the most expensive purchases anyone will make, aside from their home, so trust and transparency is essential in the sales process. We don’t ask what a customer can afford, we ask them what they want to spend, and then look at the price of the vehicle on the road, fuel, maintenance and settlement figure. We then provide a choice of vehicles for their consideration.
I feel that the future of the motor retail industry looks bright, as long as dealerships look, learn and adapt. Plus, every company in the sector should remember that to be successful, they should listen to what the customer wants and realise that they are ‘employed’ by the customer.
What’s on the horizon? I think that the future of the car will be in leisure travel, though perhaps not in our lifetimes, and that due to congestion and pollution, ‘shared’ travel will become the norm.
Technology will continue to play a major role in shaping the industry, from an increased use of social media and information systems, to the use of more sophisticated electronics in vehicles.
I also think manufacturers need to look at the full service rather than just seeing cars as a commodity. We see ourselves as our customers’ “Lifelong Motoring Partner” and we live by that ethos.
1974 – Launches car dealership Vic Young
1979 – Starts selling Nissan vehicles
1988 – Moves business to its current site on Newcastle Road, South Shields
1992 – Launches Northern Truck Bodies (now Vic Young Conversions) and Vic Young Mobility
2013 – Vic receives Special Award in South Tyneside Business Awards in recognition of his contribution to business in the area, business wins Service Company of The Year Award
2013 – Company wins Extra Mile Dealership Award at the national Disabled Motoring UK Awards
2014 – Oversees transition of the company from a Nissan franchise to a Mitsubishi dealership
2014 – Launches EVE (Electric Vehicle Evolution) an innovative wheelchair accessible electric vehicle conversion
Vic Young Mitsubishi is located on Newcastle Road in South Shields, NE34 9QE