A1 Member wins Retailer of the Year at CAT Awards 2020

We have actively contributed and been involved with A1MS since the 1990’s, they have been a tremendous asset over the years and I don’t believe we would have been standing on the stage receiving the CAT Award if it wasn’t for their support, knowledge and approved supplier buying terms.

Established in 1953, Bestwicks is a third-generation family business offering a huge range of goods and services. They pride themselves on enthusiasm and experience to create unrivalled product knowledge and customer service.

Bestwicks have had to develop service offerings to sustain and capture sales – they are a very different set up to what they were 66 years ago! Current owner, John Bestwick remembers selling purple fur for dash boards and furry dice whilst working for his father as a “Saturday Lad” in the 70’s. To say that John is familiar with the industry is a bit of an understatement.

Bestwicks is a leading example of how high street businesses should diversify to survive in today’s challanging retail environment which has been made apparent with their recent win at the 2020 CAT Awards. We spoke to John about the shops success:

What has the business done well with over the years to stay relevant in such a fast-moving industry?

As a high street retailer, I believe if you have the space you should be offering fitting services. Years ago, DIY was a trend, now everybody wants you to do it for them. I try to capitalise on this and introduce more services wherever possible. I believe now more than ever that a bricks and mortar business need to differentiate itself from the large online sellers. We have a ‘WE FIT 4 U’ service where we offer wiper blade fitting, car bulbs, batteries, wheel trims, dash cams, number plates, parking sensors, tow bars and many more. Our store brings in a lot of people for our key cutting service, which isn’t always necessarily ‘car’ related but it has increased our footfall and exposure. A few years ago we identified a niche in the market and started mobile caravan servicing. This has gone really well for us and more recently we are very busy with mobile horse trailer servicing.

It’s important to identify new products and trends and introduce fresh ideas to your store. We try to keep up with the momentum – even if it’s just seasonal, merchandising change around. In the 90’s Bestwicks had a large audio section because it was relevant, now not so much. We keep abreast of new technologies and tailor products and services to suit.

Marketing is absolutely crucial, a big one for us – social media! Harness the power of the internet. We have an active social media account which has a lot of engagement through competitions. I use video posts which have a greater reach, a tactic which isn’t for everybody but all you need is a smart phone and a bit of practice. If the topic is interesting it will go viral organically when the post is shared and tagged with others. My most recent video campaign (‘4D Plates’) reached over 39,000 people so it is a great platform for exposure. Find something you’re passionate about, be yourself and get it out there!

Lastly, but certainly not least, I have been blessed with experienced, brilliant staff who have been part of my team for many years. It is due in no small part, to this great team, that we are successful and we all strive to keep our reputation for service and expertise.

Are Bestwicks doing anything new or different over this coming year?

Software and technology are always changing so we are looking to further invest in car key cutting and coding technology for car remote control keys. We intend to really push the mobile horse trailer servicing as it seems to be a bit of an untapped market.

We think it is important to keep momentum going with our successful Facebook page and keep posting videos for maximum reach. We would like to be just as successful on other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram which will target a potential younger audience.

What is the most important aspect of being an A1 Member?

We have actively contributed and been involved with A1MS since the 1990’s, they have been a tremendous asset over the years and I don’t believe we would have been standing on the stage receiving the Cat Award if it wasn’t for their support, knowledge and approved supplier buying terms. Being a part of A1 means having access to the best brands on the market, being introduced to new products and concepts we might not otherwise know about as well as having continual communication and support throughout our membership. We find the A1 Warehouse invaluable. It is a tremendous resource with an extensive stock profile and an extremely efficient ordering and delivery service. As an independent retailer, if you use the assets of A1 and all it offers, you are most definitely not a small fish in the sea of competition.

What advice would you give to a new automotive retailer?

It is hugely important to strive to find new ideas, products and services to continue to prosper. I personally get a buzz out of this as it can be very rewarding, albeit challenging!

Another piece of advice would be to make sure your website is up to date with SEO key words in ensure you are highly ranked on Google search pages. If you make sure that you identify important keywords and include them in your (well written) web text in the category it relates to – you may find your services will organically reach better results than major corporate competitors.

Make sure you allocate time to work ON your business and not just IN it.

Create a ‘Google my Business Page’. It’s free! When you get a happy customer – ask them for a Google review. Should about how good you are.

Join A1 Motor Stores!