Part Time Motor Trade Insurance

How to Set Up a Motor Trade Business

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The motor trade industry in the UK turns over a massive £64.1billion a year and has created over 770,000 jobs according to a recent report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Setting up a successful motor trade business can be daunting. The motor trade industry is highly competitive, but if you do your research and understand the market you can set up a highly lucrative business.

Here are our 10 easy steps on how to successfully set up a motor trade business in the UK.blog-post-assets-gls

Step 1: Research and Crucial Decisions

The first thing you need to do, if you are planning on setting up any business, is to do your research. In depth analysis of the industry can play a crucial part in deciding which type of business to set up. In regards to the motor trade industry, the type of business you could launch could vary considerably, from a small part-time valet to a second hand car showroom.

Having at least a basic understanding of car mechanics, vehicle value and industry trends will give you a huge advantage whichever business you decide to open.

Competitor research is a great way of finding out the where the best place to establish your business is. You should consider foot fall, proximity to other competitors and space before coming to a final decision.

blog-post-assets-cardkStep 2: Branding

Any successful business requires a strong, memorable name and branding. To begin to think of a good name for your business, you should consider what message you are trying to convey. Do you want people to think of you as a small family business or a quirky modern company?

Once you have picked a suitable name, you need to check if anyone else is already using it. You can do this be visiting 123reg.co.uk or namecheck.com.

For simple branding, think of three colours which compliment each other and incorporate them in advertisements, interiors and your logo. There are countless websites with further guidance and information on how to appear professional and visually appealing.

blog-post-assets-balanceStep 3: Funding and Finances 

The Government has a number of funds available for those looking to start their own business. To find out more information on funds which might be available to you visit https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder.

Often applying for such funds requires you to write a business plan. If you need help on writing a business plan please check out our handy guide: click here to read more.

If you have money saved up to invest in your company yourself make sure that you budget for any eventualities which might cost you money such as fines, refunds or tax.

To make sure you protect yourself and your business you should consider taking out appropriate business and/or motor trade insurance.

blog-post-assets-schStep 4: Tax

Register your business with HMRC, as a self-employed trader, you will now be responsible for filing annual tax returns.  So keep on top of your finances…what you have spent, what you have earned and everything in between.

It may be worth seeking the help of a bookkeeper or an accountant in the early days. Paying too much or too little tax could cause you a lot of problems.

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Step 5: Motor Trade Insurance

It is a legal requirement to have motor trade insurance, so make sure this is in place before you start to trade. Think Insurance are specialists in this area and are always on hand to help new businesses get on their feet.

Motor trade insurance will protect both yourself, your business and your customers.

Note: Home insurance will often not cover a home motor trade business. Read more here.

blog-post-assets-think-SOCIALStep 6: Is Your Business Online?

A website can help a business in a number of ways. Customers will be able to find you and contact you, you will be able to offer discounts and vouchers and people will be able to rate and review your services.

In this day and age having a website is something a customer will immediately assume you will have and without one you risk being seen as unprofessional.

There are a number of great sites to help you quickly and simply set up a website such as Go Daddy, Moonfruit and Site Builder.

blog-post-assets-think-social2Step 7: Marketing and Social Media

To find and gain the right type of customers for your business it is important to think about marketing whether this is through advertisements, offers or social media.

Advertising your business online is a great way of gaining new customers. If you are an auto-trader for example you might want to consider using sites such as eBay and Autotrader to advertise which cars you have available to purchase. Some sites are even free to use such as The Car Lot offered by The Motor Trade Club.

Offering discounts and vouchers on social media such as Twitter and Facebook is another easy way of attracting new customers. To set up business accounts on social media check out our Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

blog-post-assets-qStep 8: Trade Plates

Trade licence plates can help you save time and money as a motor trader. Buying trade plates means you won’t need to register and tax every vehicle temporarily in your possession.

Similar to taxing a vehicle, trade plates can be valid from 6 to 12 months at a time and cost around £100.

To purchase trade plates simply visit the DVLA website

blog-post-assets-convoStep 9: Hire Staff

Hiring employees is often a difficult task as everyone tends to be on their best behaviour during the interview process. Consider offering employees a trial period to see if they are right for the job. This will allow you to assess their true character over a 3 month period and make a decision based on their performance.

 

blog-post-assets-heartStep 10: Customer Service

There is nothing more powerful in growing a successful business than positive and genuine recommendations.

If you provide excellent customer service you can increase the chance that you will be either rated online or verbally recommended to a friend or family member. This is the best way of gaining new customers and ensuring they return in the near future.

To find out how to provide excellent customer service as a motor trade check out our Essential Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

Now you have everything in place, its time to get started!  Good luck and congratulations on becoming your own boss!

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10 Steps to Improve Customer Service in the Motor Trade

Customer service in the UK has received its lowest score since 2010, and although the motor trade was rated as the fourth highest sector, facing competition from the likes of tourism, retail and food retail, standards have gradually slipped over the last two and a half years and the bar needs to be raised back up again.

Customers are a vital part of any business; they bring the money in so keeping them happy is integral. The UK Customer Satisfaction Index, who perform the twice yearly study on customer happiness, found that 95% of highly satisfied customers are very likely to remain as customers. In stark comparison, only 5% of dissatisfied customers are very likely to return.

Out of 100 points the automotive sector received an average score of 78.6, which is down from 80.9 in 2013. Motor trade companies like Skoda have proved you can achieve great customer satisfaction in the motor trade, consistently being named in the 20 highest performing businesses in the UK with high scores between 82.9 and 85.7 since 2013.

In order to help keep customers satisfied and returning to your motor trade business, Think have collated some of the best advice from business experts and added a few tips from our own experience.


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Learn Your Business and Become an Expert

 

You may know how to sell cars, repair them or wash them, but do you know everything about your business? If you sell cars, get to know the market as a whole, know the specifications and prices of your competitors. On the other hand if you run a valet business find out if you can be offering your customers more services than just a car wash. Becoming an expert of your business will also help you field customer questions much more easily and give them confidence in your service.


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Make Your Customers Feel Welcome

 

Your customers should feel welcome before they even enter your business. An attractive, family friendly and clean store front will attract customers to your business. Once they enter your shop or garage, they will expect polite service, so look after them in any way you can. If you need to keep them waiting for any amount of time, make sure that comfortable seating areas are available.


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Be Available

 

Due to the nature of customers today, they want service to be available as soon as possible and when it suits them. So be attentive to the business phone and emails, if a customer cannot get in touch with you they may take their business elsewhere purely because that other business picked up the phone.


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Listen to Your Customers

 

Knowing what your customers want is essential to helping you improve your customer service and, in turn, your profits. Find out what they need from you and do what you can to help them. The more you listen to your customers and the more information you find out, the more services you will be able to offer them. Also, if your customer has a complaint with the service they have been given, listening and empathising with their situation is half the battle, once they have vented and you have listened they’ll feel much better and then you can deal with their problem.


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Be Time Conscious

 

Be conscious of your customers’ time, as no matter how good your service is, keeping them waiting an inordinate amount of time is bad service. To make sure your customers’ time isn’t wasted, tell them an estimated time for when the job will be finished, and then try your best to meet the deadline. Customers will always feel aggrieved if they have had to wait longer than you originally told them, without good reason.


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Look at Every Step in Your Service

 

Any weak point in your customer service will be picked up on by the customer, instantly. Look at every step and see if there’s any part that is not performing at its full potential. You need to create a consistently good service so that people will return.


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Feedback

 

You need to receive feedback about your service otherwise you’ll never be able to better it. It requires a thick skin at times, but if there’s something wrong with your business you need to know about it. Offer feedback opportunities on your website, or give forms for people to fill in as they leave.

Also try following up after your service, if someone has bought a car from you recently, or had their car repaired by you, it’s really polite to send a follow up letter a month later letting them know that you hope that the vehicle is still running well and if they need to, they can contact you with any issues.


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Social Media

To offer customers the best service you need to create a social media page on Twitter and Facebook. This will allow them another way of contacting you and also give them the chance to endorse you to their friends.

You can also use the format to advertise offers and discounts. If you offer a one day extravagant price reduction once a month you’ll not only get some free advertisement as it is shared around the web, but you’ll also gain some loyal customers hungry for offers.


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Hire the Right Staff

The key to making your customer service the best is by hiring polite, friendly and dedicated staff. Hiring people that will interact with your customers in a polite and knowledgeable way will increase customer satisfaction tenfold.


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Continuously Improve Customer Service

You may feel like you have the perfect staff and service possible, but to maintain those high levels of service you need to continuously improve them. Learn from your mistakes, talk and listen to your staff about service and interaction on a daily basis.

Think Insurance are experts in providing Motor Trade Insurance and Part-Time Motor Trade Insurance. If you are in need of a new policy, then please get in touch with Think today.

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The New Way to Sell Cars

A new car dealing startup is changing the way cars are sold, as their new shop sits in a shopping centre and uses a new mobile payment technology.

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Rockar

The Bluewater in Kent, where you might normally go for an evening at the cinema or in the day to purchase some new threads, will now host a new type of shop selling Hyundais. Rockar, situated a short walk away from Marks and Spencer, will be the first car sales company to take the advantages of digital retail and employ them into a traditional store.

Inspired by Apple

Simon Dixon, the founder of Rockar, was inspired by the selling and paying methods at the Apple store.

“We have turned the traditional car dealership process on its head. With our system and technology customers are in charge all the way.

“They make a tailored search based on their circumstances -  budget, mileage, deposit, can book a solo test drive, sell their old car, choose suitable finance, build a new one and track delivery. It is up to them whether they speak to one of our staff.”

The store still has expert employees who are in store and ready to help, they are known as Rockar’s ‘Angels’. Each of them are armed with an online terminal plugged into their smartphone or tablet that allow the user to create secure deposit transactions and source key financial information.

Dixon explains that without the inconvenience of having to work from a till, the smart technology gives employees the freedom to aid and sell to the customer more freely.

“The flexibility and convenience we gain is very important for customer service. Angels aren’t tied to a till and they aren’t pushy sales people on commission, focussed on negotiation and pulling off a deal,

“Our product experts are immediately available and able to inform any customer coming in. We have positioned the cars to where people go naturally, rather than in locations where they have to make a specific journey. We also offer test drives and an all-makes service here too.”

Rockar are using the Barclaycard Anywhere service, which allows payments to be taken almost anywhere. The technology will do wonders for small businesses and could be game changing for mobile motor trade services such as valets or mechanics.

Already Taken £1 million

Rockar is barely 5 months old, yet it has already taken £1 million in sales and hopes to turnover £9 million in their first year. The company was originally backed by £5 million worth of private investment and has put down £3 million for a future lease commitment.

The idea has been massively popular and in their first 3 months of trading they had 62,000 visitors, which is more than the whole Hyundai network for that time. The new concept has even eaten into second hand car sales, with 72% of their customers saying they would normally buy a used car, and 48% used their current car as part exchange to purchase their new Hyundai.

Dixon himself has done his time in the motor trade but reflects that it was his time outside the business that really gave him the insight into the customer experience

“Being a customer, what they want when they buy a car. Understanding that perspective is the biggest thing I’ve learned and put into Rockar.”

Dixon hopes to open a number of new stores in locations around the UK, using a different car manufacturer each time.

If you need Motor Trade Insurance please contact Think Insurance, we offer both Part Time and Full Time Motor Trade cover.

 

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Autovalet Are Looking For Franchise Owners

A hand car wash company that have achieved a reputation for expert service within the sector are looking for franchise owners to invest in new sites around the UK.

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Auto Valet have been supplying a high quality valet service for 20 years, and have earned a lot of respect with their customers and the motor trade industry. Their service runs within some of the main shopping malls, operating a “we wash while you shop” policy. They are now offering some very attractively priced franchise opportunities for clever entrepreneurs.

“They thought it was a crazy idea”

They were one of the first car washes of their kind in the UK, offering customers the chance to get their car washed while they are out shopping. When Stella O’Shea, Auto Valet’s Managing Director, launched the operation she had a team of two valeters at Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London. The mall’s management weren’t sold on the idea initially, but it soon became a resounding success and now you can find them in shopping centres and malls across the UK.

“They thought it was a crazy idea and would never succeed as customers would never take up the service. Having spent 10 years as a business consultant, both here and in the USA, specialising in business start ups, I managed to persuade them to trust my instinct that this was a great new concept and that it would be highly successful.

“As well as proving there was a demand for a ‘wash while you shop’ service, I had to devise a specific technique to hand wash a car suitable for the car park to prevent any splashes landing on the car beside the one being cleaned.”

Stella came up with the concept while on her way to a wedding. She stopped to buy a card from a shopping centre and realised it would be a perfect time to get her car washed, it would save her much needed time.

Investments starting from £10,000

Now, with investments starting from £10,000 plus VAT and working capital, entrepreneurs can start their own ‘wash while you shop’ Auto Valet franchise. Stella is inviting budding entrepreneurs to share the business’ success, “Our brand is aspirational – it offers customers a lifestyle choice, not just a car wash,”

The car wash and shopping service has become much in demand, and Stella’s Brent Cross business now employs 40 washers and valeters, and the company as a whole runs at another 24 sites. They are hoping to offer their excellent service and value for money in many more sites around the country.

If you require Valet Insurance or another kind of Motor Trade Insurance, part time or full, please head this way for more information.

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Valet-tines Day

What are the daily chores of a valet, and do they have time for love on that most romantic of days?

Valet insurance

Here at Think Insurance we want to celebrate the hard work and diligent effort of Valets by giving them their own special day on February 14th, Valet-tine’s Day.

We spoke to Mo, a valet from Liverpool, on a cold February morning to find out what he does day to day and to find out what he plans to do on Valentine’s Day and if he would prefer to celebrate Valet-tines day.

How long have you worked in the Valet Trade?

About 4 years, yes, 4 years this March.

How do you start your day?

I wake up at 6.30 and walk to work for 8.

What are your responsibilities at work?

We offer a few services at our car wash, from the mini valet, which just cleans the outside of the cars, to the full valet which cleans the inside and out.

What’s your favourite job at the Valet Service?

I prefer working on the jet wash, it is cold doing it in the winter, you cannot wear gloves as they will get wet, but it is still the most enjoyable job.

How long do you work a day?

It used to be 9 to 6 but the boss changed the hours and we work from 8 to sometimes past 6.30.

So you work pretty long hours here!

Yes, very long hours! When I go home, I get a shower, I go to bed.

Are you working on Valentine’s day this year?

Yes. Working all day.

Do you have a special someone to celebrate with?

I’ve been married to my wife, Ateekah, for 3 years.

Are you doing anything special in the evening?

No, I work too hard! I will be exhausted after a busy Saturday.

Nothing at all?

I will get her a card and some flowers, maybe we will do something on my day off.

What do you think about celebrating Valet-tines Day instead, a day that celebrates the hard work of Valets?

Haha! That’s funny! Yes, I think we deserve a day celebrating valets.

What would you want for Valet-tines day?

Hmm… Good food and good company!

You’re a good bloke, thanks Mo, hope you have a happy Valet-tines Day!

No problem, thank you.

Think Insurance offer many types of Full-Time and Part-Time Motor Trade Insurance, including Valet’s Insurance.

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