Southern Cotswold’s based Morgan and Lotus dealer, Williams Automobiles have had a fantastic year selling 100 Morgan cars to become the Malvern Link based niche car manufacturer’s dealer of the year.
The accolades don’t stop there either; Williams Automobiles also won Green Dealer of the Year at the National Motor Industry Awards and Franchise Car Website of the Year by Car Dealer Magazine. Other more local recognition came in the form of being awarded Family Business of Year and Henry Williams nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year at the South West Business Awards.
It has taken just two and a half years to get to this point after a decision in 2010-2011 to switch from a multi-franchise new car dealership trading from large premises situated near the centre of Bristol. The trigger for the change was the stagnation of the new car market with the franchises they represented either going into liquidation in the case of Saab or in the case of Mazda suffering a dramatic loss of market share due to the absence of new models.
Richard Williams as the third generation of the family running the company decided that to establish new franchises to cover the ever increasing overheads of the site would take a substantial amount of investment both financial and in human resource and he did not want to commit to this. A deal was done and with the exception of Morgan and Lotus the car operation changed hands. It is worth mentioning at this point that although the UKs volume car marketplace has changed dramatically since then Williams Automobiles stand firmly behind their decision.
Richard’s son Henry Williams felt strongly enough about maintaining the family’s 100 year motor trade roots into a fourth generation to start again from scratch with a totally different niche vehicle retailing operation. With the agreement of Morgan and Lotus, Henry started to develop farm buildings in a rural location situated 10-15 minutes from junction 18 of the M4 near to the southern Cotswold’s market town of Chipping Sodbury.
Henry said: “It really was a seat of the pants operation coming from a long established main dealership and starting from scratch. It was also a huge learning curve as even getting the customers to find us in the first place was a major challenge”.
To resolve the issue of being visible whilst in a hidden location meant the refocused company’s first major investment was in its website. “As no one would see us even if they drove past, our mentality quickly changed from that of a volume car dealership with high profile premises, to that of an Internet operation using our website as a front window “said Henry, “and when we started two and a half years ago we had no idea just how successful it would be”.
The website has proved crucial in getting worldwide interest with customers quite literally arriving at the front door from the four corners (Ed – they clearly have good Sat-Navs) to be greeted with a refreshingly different experience that includes a warm welcome from the very popular in the winter at least wood burning stove. Nice touch and essential if you arrive by M3W.
As part of their new focus Williams Automobiles also went racing for the first time in 2013 with a purpose built 1600cc Sigma powered Morgan 4/4 sport. Success came from the slightly bruised by season end race car with four class records, four class wins and decent 2nd and 3rd in class respectively for pilots Henry Williams and Paul Tovey. If they hadn’t split the driving to share the points who know what else might have been achieved.
Next year in 2014 Williams Automobiles will be supporting customer’s race cars throughout the season as well as sponsoring Bristol Motor Club’s two Castle Combe sprints, the first of which will be held on 22nd March 2014 and attract some of the quickest racing cars in the country as a round of the National Sprint Championship. The event is also free to attend as a spectator.
At a time of large glass fronted franchised car dealers being strategically located on the main carriageways leading into and out of most major conurbations in the UK it is nice to have to search for Williams Automobiles somewhere out in the sticks. We also think this is rather fitting because people don’t buy a Morgan or Lotus by accident and instead far more likely to have been quite clear on the reason for their journey and its final destination well before they set off. Williams Automobiles impressive 75% conversion rate is surely testament to that.
For more information ring Henry Williams on 01454 315112 or visit Williams Automobiles
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