“Beyond that, it comes back to that partnership theme. We’ve tried to work really hard on that partnership so, for instance, our sales team isn’t commissioned or paid a bonus to push a given product or hit an arbitrary target. That means they can start every customer conversation with a version of ‘What are your goals?’
“Today, we can help find answers, because we have data that can tell them the speed at which individual cars are selling, what price they are selling for, what stock profiles are working and so on. In minutes one of our experts can tell a retailer what they are doing well. I’m yet to meet a customer that one of our team can’t sit with and change their business for the better. We’ve got about 250 people in that team, and they exist to help our customers.
“Not everyone engages, but that means we have to work harder to demonstrate what more we can bring to the discussions. There are always challenges, but we’ll keep working on them.”
How do you keep your focus when you are developing so many new ideas?
“One of the biggest – if largely unseen – shifts in our business in recent years has been growing our tech team to 350 people. We do about 1500 releases a week directly into our software base. We have no contractors, so all of our developers are our employees and they ‘own’ the code base, and have a vested interest in not building up technical debt or looking for quick fixes or solutions.
“The result is we’ve got a brilliant software stack, which allows us to be incredibly agile. I see that as our biggest strength – more so perhaps than even the brand, our history and other assets.”
What do you see happening to used car prices amid the rising cost of living?
“It’s a genuinely fascinating time, because we’re clearly entering into a period of weaker consumer demand, and probably a recession. But the backdrop in which we’re entering that recession is exceptional. Used car profitability has been stronger than it’s ever been over the last couple of years, and the results of the big groups in particular are still very strong. “Our data shows that most prices are still up year on year and also month on month because demand, while still softer, is still there sufficiently to outstrip supply.