Our ViHUB inventory platform is now at the heart of Arbury Group’s plans to become the digital destination for new and used cars in the Midlands. Arbury Group Managing Director Ben Archer tells us how inventory is part of Arbury Group’s post-pandemic digital strategy.
Like many car dealership groups, Arbury was rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. During the first lockdown, four out of its nine sites remained open with staff manually managing centralised new and used car enquiries that came in via email and phone.
It was a patched-up approach to trading rather than a digital activation strategy and in the first few months the group survived with its information-based website platform During 2020 group managing director Ben Archer started work on his new digital blueprint for the business which he knew was key for the group’s future survival.
Building values like honesty and integrity
Ben calls it his Jerry Maguire moment after the comedy starring sports agent Tom Cruise who starts up his own business management firm. Maguire’s new company mantra is based on ‘bringing soul and character to what is already there where values like honesty and integrity served as his filters and anchors,’ which was something Ben wanted to replicate.
“I shared my new digital vision for the entire business with the main board directors in December 2020 which incorporated our own CRM that would enable us to engage with customers both on and offline. It was all based around one single platform that incorporated marketing systems and processes that would guide the customer journey including a new telephone system.
Giving customers a blended search of new and used cars
“My aim was to give a blended search opportunity to drivers so they could view all our new and used cars during their visit to our website so they are in the best position to make their own choice. The new strategy was based around three key disciplines – inventory, integration, and insight,”.
After board buy-in, the search started for an inventory platform that could collect all the group’s data to provide a Single View of the Truth at any period in time to the group’s 250 employees of its new and used car stock from demonstrators to hire cars, new cars to recently received part exchanges.
Ben was impressed by the fact it could give him all stock in one place and integration to drive his retail sales platform and integrate with its Keyloop DMS.
“Ultimately my aim was to generate better revenues without having to increase my headcount and provide better customer service by colleagues wasting less time by not having to key in data multiple times, then checking and double-checking stock as in the future it would all be done automatically. The aim was to take manual tasks off the radar.
“We want to take feeds from our DMS as well as feed information back into the DMS. Our vision is to automate the uploading of retail cars onto the website via an integration with our disposals and financial functions so we always have one view of the actual status of our vehicle stock via ViHUB.
One system was needed for colleagues and customers
“The new system needed to be user-friendly for our colleagues and one that could also be customer-facing. We did not want to double up a back office with a separate system that you then showed the customer.
“We wanted to avoid double keying of information at all costs with as many processes delivered automatically as possible which would get rid of files and paperwork within our dealers, with any discrepancies in our stock being automatically being flagged up by the system,”.
Speeding up the closure of month end
“Historically would take colleagues 3-4 hours a week typically to manually upload cars and it would take seven days of work at month end to understand our live stock situation before we could close the ledger and end one month and carry over to the next.
“Like many dealers, around 70% of our new and used cars are bought and sold in the last two days of the month. We run our overheads very tightly and only employ 250 people so any time efficiencies we get from our teams is very welcome, particularly at month end.
Data anomalies are flagged up automatically
Arburys used stock locator and website is now always up to date with live cars with the optimal photos and descriptions, including all the current part exchanges taken in from customers, as well as used cars that have been identified to send to our auction partners. Any data anomalies along the way are flagged up automatically.
“All of our cars sit on the platform including demos and courtesy cars. Cars do not show as live cars for sale until we are ready to retail them. It makes it easier to take a complete overview of our stock and know what is for sale and what is not,”.
“By setting our own rules on the age and type of used car that is not right for retailing we can shift the car on quickly and efficiently through our wholesale disposal channel. It avoids sales managers having to make manual decisions on every car on whether it is for sale and at what price. It is very clear what part exchange price has been given on every car so we always use that as a base to add our retail margin.
Building customer loyalty
“We are on a journey with ViHUB but it is already supporting our business processes and are already some way towards making our web platform the digital destination for cars in the Midlands. We already have more showroom visits and carry out more test drives than ever before which is good as we want to build a long-term relationship with the customer at a time when loyalty is going out of the window,”.
This extends to Live Chat where Arbury colleagues are in place fully trained to provide specific expertise in key customer areas such as Motability to answer questions and to build online customer relationships.