Sinclair Group

Sinclair Group

Date: Fri 28th February 2014   |   Client: Sinclair Group
Client Name: Edward Ellis, head of F&I and Compliance

Founded in 1945 in Port Talbot, by mechanic Bill Sinclair, what today is the largest and most successful motor group in Wales started life as a car repair business on the site of a former sawmill.

Over the years, car sales were added to the operation and Bill's son, Gerald, joined the firm and oversaw growth that today sees the business representing seven brands in 20 retail outlets. Today, the third generation of the Sinclair family is actively involved in leading the business and overseeing the sale of more than 15,000 cars each year to a customer base of in excess of 50,000, of whom 94% would recommend Sinclair Group to somebody else.

At the heart of the Sinclair Group ethos is personal service. Befitting a family business, the Sinclair family is proud to lead from the front, interacting with customers and colleagues alike and ensuring the business is a positive and supportive influence within the communities in which it operates.

In this values-led culture, added-value services play an important role as a profit centre and as a means of reinforcing the Sinclair commitment to service. In 2009, the business reviewed its approach to two key products; GAP, branded as Sinclair Asset Protection within the business and SMART Insurance. The business selected AutoProtect as their supplier, based upon the shared synergy in terms of customer care and what, at the time, were emerging trends in compliance. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, which has continued to evolve over the years.

Sinclair’s Head of F&I and Compliance, Edward Ellis, points to a collaborative approach as being central to the continuing success enjoyed by both parties:

“We see Sinclair Asset Protection as a core part of our offer and one that we promote in a high integrity fashion consistently. Customers are reassured by the fact that it is branded with the Sinclair name. Many have been with us as friends for many years and recognise that we would not put our name to a product we didn’t believe in. It is a seemingly small, but significant step in best practice and underpins our relationship with our AutoProtect and their transparent approach.”

Another symbolic step is in Ellis’ own title; adding the word ‘compliance’ has proved to be an important factor both internally and externally. Immediately, the focus on providing a customer experience that is both pleasurable and compliant is evident.

In terms of compliance, Ellis is firmly of the view that no business should ever see compliance as a ‘core competency’; “For me, it is a bit like saying you are a safe driver, where the risk of complacency can set in. We work at compliance continuously, working with the AutoProtect team, we endeavour to ensure compliance is integrated into our ‘business as normal’ approach, but we never take this for granted.”

Avoiding complacency in compliance and sales penetration benefit from the AutoProtect Management Information (MI) support. Via online reporting, Ellis can drill down quickly to individual performance and this benchmarking has created a highly consistent group-wide performance. “Transparency is good for the team as well as our customers. In just a few keystrokes each salesperson can gain an instant snapshot of just how well they are performing. What this has then stimulated is training and sharing of best practices internally.”

As well as establishing a clear benchmark for the Group, the MI can help to identify people who might be operating

This openness surrounding the sales of added-value products is not just an internal matter. The business works to identify fresh thinking at industry events, through its franchise partners and via industry organisations. At the same time, the business looks externally to other business areas where Ellis sees added-value sales being a far more natural part of the sales process; “As a market, motor retailers I feel can continue to learn from areas such as the hospitality sector, where added-value activity, such as offering wine with a meal, is seen as a service not a product. In truth, the term ‘added-value’ can carry with it unhelpful connotations – our mantra is that we are simply delivering good service and that includes options that may enhance the customer’s motoring experience.”

Sinclair looks to its supplying partners for their own insights and thinking. In this regard, the moves by AutoProtect to accelerate the claims process through both app-based technologies and a greater focus on creating good customer outcomes resonates well with the Sinclair Group.

Ellis closes by noting;

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ for improving the value of services such as GAP. Instead, it is a series of showroom behaviours that raise awareness, create confidence and support credibility. Today, over 35% of our customers opt for Sinclair Asset Protection. It is a performance of which we are proud because it is so consistent across the Group.

“Success is about a combination of quality matters; the product, pricing and the service offered by us and by our suppliers. If there were to be one single item I would point to it is this; if a business is happy to put its own name to a product, it needs to be certain it is working with the right partner to deliver it, and we feel we are.”

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Case Study: Sinclair Group

Sinclair Group

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