Former professional footballer Bill Beadnell set up North East Truck & Van in 1969 to service and repair vans and trucks. The Cleveland-based company soon moved into dealership and it now claims to be one of the UK’s largest privately owned commercial vehicle dealer groups, selling around 2,500 new and used vehicles annually. Company profits grew by 43% pa, from £1.3m in 1996 to £3.8m in 1999. Sales rose 9% pa in the same period to £71.9m, with after-sales services accounting for £20m of this. The company has twice won the industry’s Motor Transport Dealer of the Year award. North East Truck & Van attributes its improved profits to dropping links with struggling Leyland DAF trucks in 1993 and to centralising management of its five offices, thereby eliminating job duplication. With just 1% of UK buyers accounting for 75% of purchases, it has also focused heavily on customer service. The company opens its branches 24 hours a day and recently launched a virtual internet showroom that allows salesmen with laptops to customise vehicle orders with clients.
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