"With a strong reputation for excellent customer service and value, coupled with a booming used car market in general, its a great time to be expanding our capabilities."
FAST GROWING Bury-based used car supermarket cartime is reporting a strong year of growth, with latest turnover exceeding £34 million. The 20.5% YOY growth has been achieved alongside significant internal investment as cartime gears up to announce plans of a second site (the location for which will be revealed in May) and further expansion.
Profits have already been reinvested into state-of-the-art technology and operations to accelerate the business’ ambition to achieve turnover of £50m+ in the coming financial year. cartime’s sales and customer staff numbers have also swelled by more than 40% this year, to a current team of 67.
Industry-leading technology and advanced facilities added to the operation that spans a total of 89,000 sq ft, with its main sales centre located on Bell Lane, include a new 360o turntable producing more than 80 photographs and video per vehicle and a state-of-the-art electronic key tracking system. This has been an essential investment as cartime has increased its average stock level to 700 vehicles, all of which pass through its 70,000 sq ft Oxford Mill preparation centre.
A third major advancement fuelling growth has been a new bespoke lead management system responding to the increased channels customers can now get in touch with the cartime team – from social media to Live Chat.
Managing director Matt Kay who, alongside fellow director Dan Wood, is spearheading the firm’s future expansion, explains: “Having enjoyed year on year growth since our inception in 2012, this year has been about investing back into the business and it’s all helping us get to where we need to be for this next significant stage of our journey.
“All of our investments are geared around our growth and proposition, which differentiates us in the market. Close to half of all of our customers take up a cartime warranty package. This enables them to enjoy the benefits mainly associated with new cars such as free repairs, servicing and MOTs.
“And this is why we put so much emphasis in not only putting the right cars on sale, many of which are still hand selected by me, but are meticulous in our vehicle prep ahead of retail.
“The prep centre has been a real game changer for us. By keeping this work in-house, we can ensure that we deliver consistently excellent warranty cover. This is especially important to me personally, I’m passionate about treating our customers fairly. I’m sure we do lose money sometimes, but I am happy with that, as long as we keep our warranty customers on the road and happy with the service.
“We’ve also found that showing as much of the vehicle as possible, with detailed photography generated with our new turntable, is driving enquiries and conversion. The photo/video-booth turntable for the prep centre was introduced so that we can produce consistent, high quality marketing content.
“Similarly, managing stock and monitoring trends and prices with software called iControl is radically improving efficiency. Along with our new automatic key tracking system, in which we invested a further £50,000, we now have operations working really efficiently. As a result, we can now easily service the next sales centre, and hopefully a third site in 2019.”
cartime’s notable results come as a new industry report confirms that the used car market is continuing to flourish, both nationally and across the northwest.
Reporting on 2017 sales, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) report released last month showed that more than eight million used cars changed hands in 2017, only slightly down 1.1% from the previous year. The northwest reported more than 800,000 used car sales in 2017, second only to the southeast.
Matt continues: “January and February 2018 saw record trading and March looks set to be just as strong for sales.
“We now have £10million funding in place for further stocking, hence why we’re pushing forward with a second and potentially third site. With a strong reputation for excellent customer service and value, coupled with a booming used car market in general, it’s a great time to be expanding our capabilities.”