Neil Lakin – the driving force behind Group Logistics Portal – talks to us about his life in the automotive industry and life at Clarence House as a chauffeur to the Queen Mother’s Household …
What were your first experiences of the automotive industry?
My first real experience in the retail motor trade was starting as a Sales Executive with Cooper BMW in Leicester back in 1988. The dealership was purchased by the Sytner Group shortly after and I had a really great 21 years with them.
How has it changed since then?
The trade is unrecognisable since those days back in 1988. We didn’t even have the world wide web and mobile phones were in their infancy!
In reality the world has moved on and the statement is as true today, as it was then “You have to move with the times, time stops for nobody”.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing automotive retailers right now?
Yes a very interesting topic. There is so much reaction to what a dealer network may look like in the years to come and dealers quite understandably are struggling to see a road map.
We’ve had to be so resilient over the last 2 decades and I feel that we’ve all accomplished that – it’s what stands us apart from many other industries.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities for automotive retailers right now?
There are opportunities, it’s just a case of seeing them. Dealer life is normally spent putting out fires. As dealers analyse their businesses for 2021 and beyond they just need to focus on what they have traditionally done well – revenue and sales.
I think most businesses will emerge lean and mean just like we all did in 2008 so why not utilise new technologies and efficiencies that can really benefit your business?
How do you help automotive retailers?
Having spent 5 years as a Commercial Director for a logistics company I was able to see the industry from both angles. Dealers have not traditionally challenged this overhead for years. It has just been ignored due to complexity.
The Group Logistics Portal really simplifies logistics and uses your current logistics suppliers but has the ability for you to scale if required.
It takes about 45 seconds to arrange a vehicle movement through the Group Logistics Portal and about 1 second to have a booking confirmed.
It is also really helpful to have instant financial visibility of logistics volume and expenditure through the head of business, divisional and head office reporting suite. No more inaccurate month end accruals!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I guess like most Hub365 members we just love meeting a client and understanding their needs and challenges. It keeps us all up to date on the state of the nation!
We all have interesting propositions that dealers need so it’s great to find a good group/dealer fit.
What excited you most about the chance to join Hub365?
I had known Sabina and Calibre for some time and very much respected what she had accomplished.
I thought the concept was very exciting and very much needed in a post COVID world.
What’s the most interesting fact about you?
Prior to starting with Cooper Leicester I had been a chauffeur to the Queen Mother’s Household for 5 years. I lived at Clarence House on the Mall and travelled everywhere with her. She really did have some great cars!