Car Quay boss Jamie Caple says he gave all his staff an increased pay rise as the right thing to do – just ahead of the cost-of-living crisis.
The Derbyshire-based director told Car Dealer that rising costs had a noticeable impact on the motor industry when the crisis first emerged.
He said customer demand saw a significant drop earlier in the year when bills started going through the roof, with huge concerns over skyrocketing fuel prices.
The 42-year-old now believes things are picking up but says the crisis is continuing to have an impact on the motor industry.
One customer even asked Car Quay for help after buying a Mercedes GLC 63 from them and spending £600 in fuel in less than two weeks.
Caple, who scooped the Dealers’ Dealer gong at the Car Dealer Used Car Awards 2021, also says he is now incredibly reluctant to fill cars before selling them.
Despite rising costs elsewhere, the workforce at Car Quay have been able to negotiate the tough times after Caple decided to hand them bumper pay rises before costs began to climb.
Staff saw their pay packets rise by between five and 10 per cent at the end of December, with the boss keen to reward them for helping the firm to achieve record profits in 2021.
Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer, Caple said: ‘We lifted everybody’s wages, which I thought was nice and the right thing to do.
‘Looking at the cost of living going up, it has kind of spiralled drastically in the last couple of months and I feel like that pay rise – above a normal inflation-related pay rise – has helped them with that.
‘We wanted to give them more than the normal end-of-year two per cent rise. It’s not mega bucks but between five and 10 per cent pay rises.
‘As a business, we’ve seen our costs go up, especially fuel. Customers might ask for a tank of fuel and we’re now having to think twice about that.
‘I was driving a GLC 63 recently and I tanked it at a cost of around £170. I’ve had to come out of one of them and am now driving a two-litre diesel Passat!
‘The customer we sold the GLC to actually rang us after 10 days and said “Is there anything you can do to help?” because she had spent £600 on fuel in 10 days of ownership.’
He added: ‘I would say we definitely noticed a dip and a bit of a downturn in inquiry rates probably in February and March time when this first really started being in the news.
‘I felt there was a bit of fear about this and the war in Ukraine, which obviously directly affected fuel costs.
‘We had one customer who decided not to change because of what was going on with that, but now things seem to have picked up.’
Another strong year expected in 2022
Caple says the rise in pay he gave staff also reflected an increased profitability for Car Quay in 2021.
He told Car Dealer he felt a particular responsibility to ‘share in the wellness’ the firm is currently enjoying.
The dealer is expecting profits to rise again in 2022 and says investment has been made to improve infrastructure.
Car Quay is now advertising more than 200 cars, has 15 team members and an off-site workshop to go with two off-site storage compounds.
He added: ‘The plan is to have another really good year this year – even better than the year before.
‘We have increased our overheads significantly, we’ve increased the team and the infrastructure to accommodate us selling more cars, and ultimately I would like to think we will make more money than we did last year.
‘Our overheads have gone up, the cost of living has gone up and our bills have gone up. I think if this has become the standard then why should we start selling our cars £1,000 cheaper again?
‘Ultimately, the aim is to sell more cars and make more money.’