A newly established used car company is celebrating notching up a multi-million-pound turnover in less than a year.
Spencer Flint Automotive, which operates from the Leeds area, has reported turnover of £2.75m in the nine months it has been trading and which has seen it take on the internet big names when it comes to buying cars.
Founders and joint owners Phil Johnston and Natalie Flint, pictured, say they spotted a gap in the market for a second-hand car service that offered transparency, trust and convenience.
Ninety per cent of their business is trade to trade, Johnston told Car Dealer, with some bespoke sourcing as well as having a few cars for retail.
He added that the secret of its success was contacts and treating people the way one expects to be treated oneself.
‘I’ve worked in the automotive industry for almost 20 years – it’s my passion. In all my years in the industry, I’ve never seen stronger demand for used cars than we are currently experiencing.
‘Our biggest competitor is the “we buy all the cars” websites.
‘It is so easy nowadays for people to research and gain an online valuation for their vehicle, but price-chipping is rife and many cars are being overvalued online until it is time to have the car physically appraised.
‘Many customers end up with a derisory offer which is far lower than was originally expected.
‘We are demystifying the industry by offering a reliable, personal service with no hidden costs, and we’ve found this has been very well received.
‘We don’t renegotiate at the point of collection. Unless a vehicle has been misdescribed to us, what we say is what we pay.’
Flint said: ‘Phil is so well known, respected and trusted within the industry, so we were able to build the business quite quickly based on recommendations and referrals.
‘As a small business, we are in a fortunate position to be able to offer a personal service whereby we can collect cars from clients’ homes or offices across the UK, settle finance agreements where applicable and transfer the outstanding balance within five minutes of agreeing a sale with them.’
The couple now have their sights set on a £10m annual turnover in the next five years.
They added that used electric cars starting to filter down to the second-hand car market will present another opportunity for the business.
Johnston – whose middle name is Spencer, after Winston Churchill – said: ‘I have been involved in buying and selling many prestigious cars from pretty much every brand, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Tesla to name but a few.
‘From my experience, it is the transparent service provided that gives clients the confidence to buy and rebuy, which is where we add value.’
Flint told Car Dealer: ‘I think the major success with trade contacts is if Phil commits to sell a car to them, even if he then receives a higher bid, he will stand on the original one.
‘Traders like to deal with people they know and trust, and your reputation goes a long way with them.
‘Phil also overdescribes the car, so they know any preparation work, any faults and service history. It’s just about being transparent and truthful.
‘He takes time to listen to customers explaining their car, asks what the faults are with the car – scrapes, bumps, chips, etc – so that we can provide an accurate valuation.
‘We never put pressure on anyone to sell to us, we simply give them the figure. It’s the customer’s car and they are more than entitled to shop around.
‘This seems to have struck a chord with clients, and word of mouth/referrals work well for us.’