Saxon Bridge: a very modern car supermarket

SaxonBridge.com is one of the fastest growing car supermarkets in the UK. Last September, it purchased the lease on a new four-acre, 600-car site in Mount Farm, Milton Keynes - going live on 5th May 2018 following a major investment and six-month building project on what was previously commercial waste ground.

Saxon Bridge has been running a 200-used car dealership and compound at Wolverton, Milton Keynes for over three years. This site turns over more than £10m per year, selling an average of 100 cars per month. Saxon Bridge owners Brett and Carly Whiles had a smaller dealership, also in Wolverton, for seven years previous to that, so the business is now just over 10 years old. Saxon Bridge also runs a Practical Car & Van Rental operation from the Wolverton site.

The impressive new Mount Farm site has space to display up to 500 used cars and capacity for 150 more, including sold stock and cars going through preparation, photographing and valeting. With Mount Farm running at full utilisation, sales and servicing turnover company-wide is predicted to nearly triple to £27m in financial year 2018/19 ending 31st July 2019.

A new Saxon Bridge workshop close-by in Mount Farm has a fully-specified 10-bay workshop for preparation, servicing and running MOT inspections. All cars it sells are independently AA-inspected. Any faults spotted in these inspections are fixed in Saxon Bridge’s workshop before passing through preparation to the display area in front of the new building.

This process guarantees that all cars sold, from a £5,000 run-around all the way up to a nearly-new £30,000 4x4, are prepared to an equally high standard. Furthermore, all Saxon Bridge-sold cars which are within six months of the end of manufacturer’s warranty (or are out of warranty) are sold with a free six-month parts and labour warranty provided by Saxon Bridge. Around half of all cars sold by Saxon Bridge are financed - with Hire Purchase being the principle finance option selected by their customers.

Brett Whiles, Managing Director, Saxon Bridge explains:

Our core focus at Saxon Bridge is to offer options for everyone looking for a used family car or first car who is prepared to spend £5,000 or more. Once this new site is operating optimally we are predicting that the two sites together will generate between 250 and 300 sales monthly.

Regional focus

Saxon Bridge is focusing its online stock listing advertising on Motors.co.uk and ExchangeandMart.co.uk right now.  It tends to pick advertisers that can target Milton Keynes households directly. Its latest plan is to do regional TV advertising to MK households via the Sky AdSmart platform. It is also considering opening up a pop-up retail store in one of the major shopping centres of Milton Keynes to increase brand awareness and help drive footfall to the new Mount Farm site.

Brett again:

“We’re focusing hard on building up our site’s Google ranking through encouraging all customers and visitors to leave a Google review, or post feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram after they’ve interacted with us. Our Google ranking is already consistently very high for ‘Used cars+ Milton Keynes’ searches. Doing a great job for every customer provides the fuel for these reviews and its helping our organic rankings. In this sense, Google reviews are more effective than OEM-led CSI scoring for us

Brett Whiles’ strategic plan is to be the largest seller and servicing operation for used vehicles in Milton Keynes. In order to achieve this, he envisages having perhaps four different sites catering for different segments of the market. He plans to establish a van centre and later a site for used prestige vehicles. He wants to build Saxon Bridge’s reputation in the locality through offering vehicles to meet all needs at a competitive price, supporting the brand through unrelenting focus on high quality customer service and servicing know-how.

Brett explains further:

I’d much rather focus on being the biggest and the best in Milton Keynes than hunting for buyers all over the country and competing with hundreds of dealerships online for every sale. The online feeding frenzy created by some online market places just promotes a race to the bottom where all the profit left in any deal flows to the online platform provider rather than the dealership which is carrying all the cost and risk in the transaction

Brett fosters a family-friendly feel at both sites. At Mount Farm there is a children’s play area, a small team of showroom hosts, comfortable couches and a well-stocked coffee shop. The look and feel is more ‘Google campus’ than franchise dealership.

Spinning stock up online

A brand-new spin turntable, complete with high quality Canon camera and image management software, helps gather and store internal and external image libraries and videos of new stock; while the purpose-built offices and reception building comes complete with a café and open plan meeting pods. A total of 22 staff are based at Mount Farm: one full-time photo/videographer, seven head office staff, administrators, accounts staff, showroom hosts and Head of IT Marketing James Lambert. Mount Farm has six sales staff. A service manager is supported by a small team of technicians, four contract valeters and five drivers.

Installing Traka Automotive 890 slot key management system

After investigation of Traka Automotive’s key management system alongside competitor key management offerings in early March 2018, the Managing Director of Saxon Bridge Brett Whiles in discussion with his head of Marketing & IT, James Lambert, decided to replace the existing Peg in Peg Out (PIPO) system on the Wolverton used car sales site with Traka’s networked key management system, before putting in the larger Traka system in both the new workshop and the new showroom at Mount Farm once all power and networking equipment had been installed.

It was important to get the 890-slot total capacity system all network-linked to one central server so that cars could be located, based on the Traka record of key cabinet location, across all three sites and a total of four key cabinet locations.

A 180-capacity key cabinet was installed at both Wolverton and Saxon Bridge’s Mount Farm workshop and preparation centre close to the new Mount Farm dealership. Both cabinets were fitted with biometric fingerprint readers for added security and 150 iFobs for attaching sets of keys.

Once this was in place and the new Mount Farm office were being cabled up in early May, Traka’s installation team worked for a further two days to install a 3-door key cabinet in the Marketing & IT office in the main building, providing slots for 540 sets of car keys. Traka also installed a single door key cabinet with space for a further 50 keys at the other end of the site in a purpose-built key office in the valeting and photography area.

Cabinet zoning critical to locate cars fast

James Lambert explained the value of colour-coded zoning in the Traka key cabinets to assist with navigating the site and accessing car keys as quickly as possible when needed:

We divided the forecourt up into six distinct colour-coded zones: so, we have the ‘PDI fence’ which is where cars were parked before preparation, valeting and photography. There is Centre 1 and 2 - demarcating the two principle lines of vehicles running from the showroom building straight down the middle of the display area. Then there is ‘Fence 1’, ‘Fence 2’ each side of the central area and ‘Pond’ (there is a pond right at the far side of the site)

James explains that sections of each key cabinet are colour-coded so that if a key has been put into one of the 60 slots in the orange part of the cabinet marked ‘Fence 2’, whoever needs access to a car whose keys have been put back in the orange area of the key cabinet, knows precisely where to go to find that car. 

Finding cars and keys on the move

A mobile-ready interface into the Traka system enables Saxon Bridge’s staff to run a search (on their networked mobile phone or tablet) for a set of keys in multiple ways – either by Key Description, Key Identifier, Customer name or iFob label.

By searching on ‘Key Identifier’ it is possible to pull up a full listing of all car keys assigned to Saxon Bridge’s cabinets quickly. The display shows the specification of each car, registration plate, zone it’s parked in and site name, as well as providing details of the last person that took out those keys and how long ago they were taken out or put back.

Brett Whiles again:

When the cars are driven across from the workshop into Mount Farm’s display area, they are initially driven down to the other end of the site and their keys put in the Traka cabinet in the ‘key office’ at the far side of this large site. From there, cars are moved through valeting and the turntable for inside and out photography and videography, to fill out the online listing that will already be live. As soon as that work is complete, and the Buzz2Get QR codes have been fitted on the inside of the windscreen, they go out on display. We’ve normally had quite a few views of our cars before they even reach the display area. That’s the power of our DMS provider ClickDealer

Traka forms key part of IT ecosystem delivering better Customer Experience

Brett Whiles explained:

It just seemed silly to build a business this modern using highly integrate-able DMS provider ClickDealer, and customer experience technology provider Buzz2Get, to help us deliver state-of-the-art customer experience; only to ruin it by putting in an unnetworked PIPO system which would create a bottleneck. By doing so, we would make it likely that finding and delivering keys to the interested customer would be slow and not look as slick as the rest of the operation.

Traka fits together very well with Buzz2Get in that sense because if a customer requests a set of keys via Buzz2Get, with the aid of Traka system a sales person can lay their hands on the right set of keys and run them down to the customer within a couple of minutes.

Traka cuts stock audit time

Now that the Traka system is in place, Saxon Bridge has found the stock audits, which are carried out by three different sets of external auditors each month, have been going much more smoothly.

Brett again:

We’ve been able to account for all our stock via the Traka system and verify where any cars are if they are not out on display. This level of transparency has ensured receipt of ‘green’ audits each month to the point where we’ve recently been able to shift all three sets of auditors to quarterly stock audit inspections– saving more management time

Click Dealer forms glue which underpins online sales performance

Click Dealer has always been dealer focused. Its software and services are centred around streamlining dealers’ processes to help improve performance in six key areas: stock, online, lead and enquiry, sales, retention and back office.

Gerry Moxham, Managing Director, Click Dealer explains:

With the automotive retail industry as fiercely competitive as it ever has been, dealers need to make the most of every opportunity, therefore it’s vital that they build strong retention strategies with their customers. It’s also important that systems can support creating a frictionless and consistent journey for dealers and car buyers, both online and in the showroom.

Integration is part of modern development. Successful businesses today believe in being open to integration. We want to facilitate dealers using the best processes and systems that work for them, this means opening our system to work with others where suitable. Click Dealer eliminates the need for disparate systems through valuable integration that can take the dealer from initial lead management through to sale and after sale services, allowing a car buyer to find the vehicle they're looking for or purchase a car with finance or cash if they want to. It’s being open to integration that has allowed us to become market leaders with our tech solutions for vehicle retailing.

Our approach to system integrations allows us to work closely with the likes of Traka Automotive and Buzz2Get. We can easily feed stock into systems to make sure we’re saving dealers time, money and adding the maximum value.

Brett and the team at Saxon Bridge are very much at the forefront of embracing new technologies, in a challenging climate they’re adopting a digital mindset to really get ahead. Saxon Bridge is utilising our award-winning ClickEngage platform to facilitate a full end-to-end journey, which integrates with our web and DMS, as well as finance providers both online and in the showroom. Click Dealer shares the same vision and ideology as Saxon Bridge and other providers that they are working with. We are all utilising technology to optimise the customer journey.

Buzz2Get supports dealership customer experience

Saxon Bridge has decided to deploy the very latest mobile technology to make it easier to take a look inside cars that visitors are interested in by deploying a QR-code based customer experience application called Buzz2Get.

Each car has a sticker on the inside of the windscreen with a unique QR code on it. If visitors can hold their mobile phone up to the QR code either via a QR code reader app or, in the case of the latest iPhones, by simply turning the phone’s camera on and bringing the QR code into the viewer, triggering the opening of the web browser and taking the user straight through to Buzz2Get’s portal. This then presents you with a range of options from sending an alert to a sales person to bring the keys, to booking in a test drive, viewing the AA inspection test findings, or taking a look at the car’s full specification and current pricing.

Buzz2Get has the added advantage of being able to transfer the QR code into the sold car’s service book or onto the sunvisor. This gives the customer the option of going back to Buzz2Get to check MOT renewal date, book a service, order a fast-fit repair, apply for a new AA inspection, check for an insurance renewal quote or provide customer feedback.

Paul Smith, Director, Traka Automotive, sums up:

It’s great to be part of such a modern and forward-looking car supermarket which sees success in terms of improving the in-dealership customer experience, while streamlining processes in the background with a view to reducing the time delay between buying the used cars in and selling them on, to an average of under 14 days. Traka is part of a great and highly integrate-able ecosystem which includes Buz2Get and ClickDealer in Saxon Bridge. As such it’s important test bed for a good deal more installations of this type which we are looking to do in the future

Summary

Saxon Bridge is a very modern car supermarket group. It understands the power of reputation and knows that online evidence of its strong focus on customer service, combined with regional focus, are central to its strong growth and success to date. To achieve success Brett Whiles is focusing on streamlining all the processes that are involved in taking a car from point of purchase by Saxon Bridge to point of sale to a new customer and then on into an after sales journey.

Brett Whiles, Managing Director, Saxon Bridge summed up:

The key is to join up all processes by integrating our ClickDealer DMS to Traka, Buzz2Get and other technologies which together bring efficiencies and deliver intelligence back to the business. This tells us how we are doing against our key operational targets in real-time. If we do all this and keep the focus on serving the customer brilliantly, we know we can grow our share of the used car market in Milton Keynes and then beyond.