This year, our company’s support functions – across accounts, administration, customer contact centre, HR, IT, marketing, purchasing and senior management – will move into a 16,500sq ft, two-storey open-plan office at the Botley Grange Business Park in Southampton.
With parking for about 100 staff, meeting and training rooms, a gym and shower facilities, canteen and kitchen areas, Imperial House has undergone a £1 million refurbishment and another £750,000 fit-out of office equipment. The property will allow the group to gather its teams together from four existing locations across the city under one roof for the first time, and I believe it signals that Imperial is firmly in its next stage of corporate development.
We’re already a good place to buy a car from, there’s not many places better than us. We look after people the right way; we prepare the products really well; we have really nice environments, and really good people to deal with. One of my personal aims this year is to be a really good place to work at as well. There are very few used car operators that really focus upon their people at work being in a good place.
The corporate headquarters is just one part of Imperial’s preparations for the future. It has already invested heavily in technology. Imperial developed its own sales and stock management system, ImperialNet, which is supported by its Pinewood Pinnacle DMS, and which keeps the management team abreast of critical daily performance measures, from stock preparation and showroom footfall to deal creation and profitability. Its preparation centres are equipped with 360-degree imaging systems that automatically feed into the stocking system.
Our approach is to provide fully online sales, when customers demand it. A small in-house team of developers and content creators is responsible for keeping our website efficient and user-friendly, and we have strength in people and skillset. Specifically; Operations director Neil Smith is focusses on ensuring that once consumers are on the site, looking at cars for sale, they should not need to go anywhere else for information, so all stock is accompanied by dozens of images, a finance calculator, condition reports, provenance checks, the V5 and MOT status, and service history.
“They shouldn’t need to ring or email us with any questions about the cars, as everything there is to know is already clearly displayed. The only time they should ring us is to ask whether the car they’re looking at is still available.
We’ve spent an awful lot of money and time developing those systems, and next for us is a complete coding revamp of our website. We’ll rewrite it from the ground up and integrate it with our back-end systems.” The user experience on the website has been well ahead of the industry, but Imperial wants to keep pushing forward.
“It’s about putting everything there for the consumer to digest. Omit nothing, be transparent. It sounds trite, but we are transparent. Look at our website. We even say if it’s a previous lease car or daily rental, or if from the service stamps we suspect it may have been used as a taxi. If there’s a doubt, we’ll say” said Smith.
We’re excited about the future and we’re ready for change and innovation.