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Norton Way boss: Great businesses start with kindness, supporting your team to do the work and being open with each other

Sponsored: The Norton Way Motor MD talks on the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast about his own experiences working in the industry and what he thinks is most important to a successful dealership.

Time 1:17 pm, September 7, 2023

Jason Cranswick, now managing director of Norton Way Motors while also holding a position at parent company Marubeni Auto Investment (UK) as chief operating officer, has worked in a variety of roles across the automotive industry. 

Notably in 2020 he was retail director at Cinch when the company launched, and before that he was commercial director of Jardine Motors.

Appearing on the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast with Simon Bowkett, he talked about how early on in his career he wanted to move up fast rather than wait in the wings for the next opportunity.

He shared his views on the need for kindness within the working environment and knowing when to support your colleagues.

‘One of my missions in all of this is for us to create a very kind environment,’ he explained. ‘If we’re kind to each other, the likelihood is then that we will have strengthened depths, would have sustainability and resilience, and we’ll end up with a great business but it starts with being kind.’

Cranswick said: ‘There’s also a real habit in our industry for only, you know, vertical promotions. So what you end up with is people that have a mile-deep but inch-wide reference point.

‘Actually, what we often need is a mile wide and more than an inch deep reference point.

‘From a personal point of view, I don’t blame people for not knowing what they don’t know, and it’s as a result of a lot of our industry’s norms, but I think what we’ve got to do is try and get different reference points, different perspectives, and also help people think outside the box.’

The Norton Way boss talked about his time in various roles, including time spent as a dealer principal coach.

He explained how he was working as MD of a family dealership and knew it would never be his, and setting up something on his own wasn’t an option, so began looking at what else he could do with his skillset.

Bowkett asked: ‘When you went into dealerships, where the dealer principal wasn’t great and the business wasn’t great, was the ego getting in the way? Were there any lessons from what you’ve seen that were happening in these dealerships?’

‘I think as an industry, you know, this, I can think of many examples were very autocratic leaders who were very finger pointing, very judgmental, and people feel as though they’re going to be vulnerable if actually they let them in.

‘But for me, that kind of vulnerability is powerful. I have to make loads of decisions every day, as we all do, and I’ll be honest with you, a lot of them aren’t right. My driver has to be as long as I made more right than wrong, then we’ll be okay.
‘But also I have seen it where people just aren’t open, and as a result, then nothing can help, nothing can change.

‘Whereas if people just open up and go, ‘okay, I trust, I’ve got no reason not to trust actually. I can see that you’ve maybe got experiences I don’t have’, then it’s organic and quite rapid, the changes that come about within a business. So that’s just some examples of my perspective.’

Cranswick also shared his experience of working with Cinch and explained how he was very grateful for his time there and still believes in the model.

He said: ‘Let’s not let’s not fight against it. It worked then, and it works now and it will work in the future.

‘The question is, what proportion of consumers or businesses will buy a vehicle without touching and feeling it?

‘Now the good thing, I guess, for me as a bricks and mortar dealer now is that a lot of customers will use it for research.

‘They’ll use it to self serve to a higher level than we saw pre-Covid, but the good news is a lot of customers still want to come into the dealer to conclude to transact and the proportion of online only sales is still modest, if not small.

‘However, the proportion of omni channel retailing and through research stage or whatever is super high.’

You can listen to the interview in full on the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast by clicking here.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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