Motoring.co.uk: A meteoric rise
If you haven’t heard of motoring.co.uk, where on earth have you been?
It's the advertising portal that has banned new car brokers and in doing so captured a huge corner of the online marketplace becoming the 'number one site for new cars'
The brains behind it are former car dealers Chris Green and Terry Hogan who have been working wonders for franchised dealers and car manufacturers up and down the country. They're pushing more and more traffic to dealer websites than ever before and their amazing results mean they're growing at a huge rate.
‘Things have just been immense for us since we started last year,’ Green told Car Dealer. ‘We’ve had huge success with some amazing brands and dealers are loving the results we can produce. I’m up and down the country every day visiting dealers and manufacturers and when they see what we can do they can’t wait to sign up.’
And who could argue with Motoring.co.uk’s pricing strategy – dealers simply pay for results showing just how confident Green and Hogan are!
And, as if it needed endorsing, the advertising portal has a very special chairman – former Porsche, BMW and Glass’s Guide guru Kevin Gaskell joined the team when he saw just what they could do. Here Car Dealer catches up with the pair to see what they’ve been up to.
So then chaps, where did the idea behind Motoring.co.uk come from and how did you manage to get that all-encompassing domain name?
TH: Well, being former car dealers, we knew there was a gap in the market to really support the franchised dealer and the manufacturer, especially in new cars. There are so many sites going after the same market, that being the small to medium independent sector, that we knew that wasn’t for us. So we bought the Motoring.co.uk name after finding it for sale about five years ago, which really we found astonishing and then launched the site three years ago.
Your growth has been quite incredible – what do you put that down to?
CG: It’s a mixture of things really, but all of our team come from the sector which is a mixture of dealer sales, administration and technology. Myself and Terry have more than 40 years of dealership experience and contacts working for brands such as Ford, VW, Audi and BMW and have been responsible for the sale of more than 20,000 cars offline and online so it enables us to talk to dealer groups and manufacturers at all levels. Kevin Gaskell joining as chairman was not bad either.
Yes, I was going to ask about that – why did you join the team Kevin?
KG: I am a strong believer that the internet offers the automotive industry a whole new level of efficiency and opportunity in delivering real customer service to car buyers and drivers. The combination of richness and reach – richness of personalised information reaching each individual buyer – that the internet offers was simply never previously possible in a cost-effective way before the web.
Using the internet, the retail automotive sector has an opportunity to adapt, improve and extend retail processes so that prospects and customers receive information, support and the opportunity to buy a car, service, part, financial or other product at the time and place that suits them. Personalised service, follow up and retention can all be improved by letting the web carry the load. To date I have been disappointed in the way that the web has been used more as an electronic catalogue rather than as the basis for changing sales and service processes.
The attraction to me of joining the Motoring.co.uk team was that Terry and Chris had thought the process through and were setting out to support dealers to achieve the kind of step forward in sales processes that I believe is possible. They both have extensive retail experience and had clearly identified the opportunity to support manufacturers and dealers in the identification and capture of prospective buyers, the provision of personalised information and the sale of new cars.
They had built an industry-leading platform which is designed with the dealer in mind and were beginning to see some real success with some early adopter dealer partners. Our decision not to work with brokers is a strong statement of our belief in the franchised networks. The rate at which dealers and now manufacturers have adopted the platform for new car sales is very encouraging and now makes us the leaders in the space – not bad for a small team with big ideas.
So we understand you’ve built something you’re calling the ‘New Car Tool’ – what’s that all about?
TH: It’s quite simple really. It’s a clever uploading tool that allows the dealer and manufacturers to upload new cars in many different ways. We define it in one simple statement which is this ‘Advertise online in the same way you do in the press’. That is explaining MPG, emissions, insurance group, finance offers, low-rate finance, zero per cent deposit contribution or whatever their marketing strategy is that quarter.
In other words it not about discounting new cars like many other portals to support the searches. We don’t allow brokers to advertise on our new car and finance searches so that makes a big difference.
Can you summarise your main unique selling points then? What really makes you special?
CG: That’s simple too. We’re the number one site for new cars, there are no new car brokers, we have a unique uploading tool, unique searches including ones for used cars and we support dealers and manufacturers. But above all? Well, we are management and automotive experts.
What do you think your biggest challenges are going to be?
CG: For me it is probably sales resource and gaining more dealer support as I can deal with the senior management at the manufacturer level quite easily. For Terry it is probably branding and marketing and gaining more visitors to the site.
Above the rim advertising is also key as, after all, we do have the best name in the industry!
How can you see the site developing in time?
TH: Well, that is a question but I’m not prepared to give it all away. However, we are going to launch new and used vans for the dealer very soon. We may also strip out some of our used car inventory that does not fit with our vision which is to be the biggest new car site in the UK.
Basically, Motoring.co.uk aims to be the site that encompasses all aspects of new and nearly new vehicles associated with motoring products and services.
Who do you see as the competition and how do you intend to win market share?
CG: There are about 15 to 20 sites out there all trying to do the same thing as Auto Trader which is why we are trying to be different. Yes we do used cars but it is in a unique way that we do and how we display them is supportive to our dealers. But you can only really understand that if you are a partner of ours and are reaping the benefits. As for new cars, well there is no competition and we have about a two-year start in terms of development and research that we have conducted, plus our previous dealership and manufacturer experience means we like to think we understand our sector much better than any of the other portals out there. Oh, and as for stealing market share – well we are already doing that and it includes used cars too.
What about life after scrappage?
TH: We loved it and thought it was so refreshing for our industry and our site was perfect for it along with the likes of motabilty which other portals overlook. Manufacturers can benefit massively from our site especially if they want to follow on from scrappage where we can get their cars and offers found in lots of different and unique ways through our lifestyle offer searches.
Finally, who really is the brains behind this outfit?
CG: Well, I refer to Terry as an online genius and he calls me the miracle worker so maybe we make a good team…