For many in the motor trade, selling cars has been the only career imaginable ever since leaving school.
However, some come into the industry via a longer road and this can’t be more true for anyone than Redgate Lodge boss, Scott Sibley.
The 51-year-old set up his business back in 2010 and has seen it grow from nothing into a giant with two sites as well as a specialist prep centre.
Sibley has now appeared on the latest episode of the Car Dealer Podcast, sponsored by JATO, where he gave an insight into his journey to the top.
After leaving school, Sibley initally wanted to join his father and brother in the motor trade but eventually settled on a career in hotel management in his native Newcastle.
He then went on to set up his own catering business, which saw him selling as many as 40,000 sandwiches a week before cashflow issues forced the operation to end.
That was followed by a decade in retail before deciding to finally give the used car trade a go, initially from his drive, and Redgate Lodge was born.
Sibley told hosts James Baggott and Jon Raey: ‘I trained as a chef when I left school. That was the first step – I did hotel management and worked in the hospitality industry.
‘I did hotel management training, then I was a chef for about a year-and-a-half to two years before I set up my own catering business for about six years after that.
‘After that I did ten years with a friend of mine who had a computer games shop so I got involved in retail. I did ten years of that before I came out and I set up Redgate Lodge.
‘Redgate Lodge was the name of our house and I started selling cars from the driveway of the house, just one at a time on the side.’
He added: ‘My dad was in the motor trade for years. He had a garage in the 70s and then he ended up trading cars so being a young lad of 10 to 12-years-old I would go to the odd auction with him.
‘My older brother, when he left school, teamed up with my Dad and started trading cars around garages and main dealers and so on.
‘When I left school I wanted to do that but my Dad said he only had enough space for one son to do that.
‘I asked him what he thought I should do and he used to go to a local hotel in Newcastle in the 80s which was quite special then and he was quite friendly with the hotel manager.
‘He said “I think you should go into hotel management. I think that would be a good thing for you to do”.
‘At that age you just listen to your parents so that’s how I ended up doing that and catering.
‘It was about 25 to 30 years ago that I was working in hotels and in those days unless you wanted to go down to London or work on the cruise ships you were never going to make decent money.
‘I wasn’t prepared to move so that’s when I set up my catering business.’
‘I had a couple sandwich shops’, he explained. ‘We started wholesaling sandwiches to petrol stations and hospitals and so on.
‘I was only 22 and didn’t have much life experience but we built that up for six years and ended up doing 40,000 sandwiches a week.
‘We had a big factory, vans, staff – and a lot of headaches! We could never get the money in.
‘We were supplying the likes of Komatsu, Fujitsu and Siemens and you just never got the money in.
‘The banks suggested we did factoring and that was the nail in the coffin. We couldn’t get the mix right where they were giving us the money back so it was basically cashflow which meant I closed it and I finished.’
In a crammed episode of the Podcast, Baggott, Raey and Sibley discussed the biggest Car Dealer headlines from last week.
Among the topics up for conversation was our AI Car Dealership Project, in which Car Dealer boss Baggott aims to set up his own used car business using help from Chat GPT.
Remembering how things were when he set up his own business, Sibley said: ‘My little pot if you like was £20,000.
‘I was a bit naive because even though my Dad had been in the motor trade, he passed a lot of years before so I didn’t have any connection to the motor trade as such. I was probably a bit clueless when I think back.
‘I started just selling small cars because I thought there were so many cars out there that I could get my hands burnt if I bought the wrong things.
‘I just stuck to Renault Clios believe it or not! I bought or sold Clios for about two years.
‘I’d have one on Auto Trader but six in stock and sell all six off the one advert.
‘You’d get to know the models, their faults if they broke down and where you could go for spares because I didn’t know the motor trade.
‘I didn’t have a mentor or someone to say to do this that or the other so that was just how I set it up.
‘When I came out of working for the computer games company I probably had six or seven cars on the drive and managed to get a little unit on an industrial estate which held about 15 to 20 cars.
‘We filled that up and ended up getting the one next door and then the one next door to that and grew it from there.
A full list of the stories discussed can be found below:
- More redundancies looming at Lookers as business managers and sales teams now face cuts
- Now Christmas parties are ‘cancelled’ as car dealer Lookers axes even more staff
- Family business JCB Group agrees deal to buy Marshall Volkswagen site in Kent
- Car dealer group Sytner’s American parent company to buy Rybrook chain of showrooms
- Data shows Land Rover profit margins are booming for used car dealers
- How crashing used EV prices can teach all car dealers a lesson
- Why do banks hate used car dealers so much? The AI Car Dealership Project Part 3
You can listen to all episodes of the Car Dealer Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.