Tag Archives: car finance

SEAT Reveals the New Five Door Mii City Car

SEAT is revealing an expansion to the Mii city car line-up with the first glimpse of an even more versatile five-door version.

The additional rear doors turn the super-compact SEAT into a unique combination of exceptional driving fun, sporty design and outstanding functionality.

Of course the new five-door Mii remains true to core SEAT principles – meaning it’s both a pleasure to drive, and a pleasure to own.

In either three- or five-door form the Mii scores top marks for fuel consumption and emissions thanks to its lightweight design and efficient drivetrains. This applies in particular to the newly-announced Mii Ecomotive.

Thanks to a start/stop system, brake energy recovery and other measures to improve fuel economy, the Mii Ecomotive makes do with just 4.2 litres of fuel per 100 km, equating to CO2 emissions of only 96 g/km. These impressive statistics apply to both the three and five-door versions, as well as to both performance variants; 60 PS and 75 PS.

James Muir, President of SEAT, S.A. said: “The new Mii has enjoyed a terrific start. Customer response in Spain is outstanding and we are now bringing the entire line-up to the other European markets complete with the three-door, five-door and Ecomotive versions.

“With its distinctive SEAT identity, its youthful design and its high quality standards, the five-door Mii in particular is set to capture a significant share of the sub-compact segment. This makes the Mii an important factor in our corporate strategy. The Mii marks the start of the most extensive model offensive ever undertaken by SEAT.”

As a five-door, the Mii retains the strong character of its distinctive design. Perfectly proportioned, the new SEAT measures 1.64 metres wide with a long wheelbase of 2.42 metres and exceptionally short overhangs front and rear. The steeply angled rear end facilitates the Mii’s generous interior space – optimum functionality is particularly important in the sub-compact segment.

The car’s compact format makes the Mii the perfect companion for urban environments. Yet, thanks to its optimum use of space, it offers plenty of room for four adults. With a volume of 251 litres the Mii also boasts one of the largest luggage compartments in its class, expanding to an impressive 951 litres with the rear seat back folded.

When it comes to technology and equipment, the five-door Mii matches its three-door sibling blow for blow. Beneath the bonnet lies a new generation of engines; the frugal 1.0 litre three-cylinder unit is light, compact and smooth. In two outputs of 60 PS and 75 PS, it ensures fleet-footed agility, and not just in city traffic. With top speeds of 160 km/h and 171 km/h respectively, fuel consumption comes in at just 4.5 or 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Meanwhile the Mii’s 35-litre fuel tank ensures both a long range and enduring driving fun.

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ACF Car Finance Gives Valeters A Chance To Shine

Valeting staff at a national used car dealership are being given the chance to buff up their CVs on a special training programme created by the company.

ACF Car Finance Limited says it believes that valeters deserve a higher status in the motor industry, and should be given more credit for their crucial role in the sales operation.

Now such staff will have the opportunity to shine by completing a formal skills training course in order to become accredited as an ACF Car Finance “car cosmetician”.

The programme combines in-house learning with a two-day residential course tutored by valeting experts at the Letchworth headquarters of car care product leaders Autoglym.

According to Leyton Cooper, Divisional Group Buying Manager at ACF Car Finance, vehicle valeting is regarded by the company as a vitally important part of its business strategy:

“Our aim is to provide a buying experience for customers which is on a par with that provided by leading main dealers – and that includes preparing cars to motorshow standards of presentation.

“Achieving this state can take many hours for each vehicle, which is why all of our used car showrooms employ at least one full-time valeter with no other responsibilities.

“Their task is not just to bring cars up to a near-new appearance, but to remove every possible trace of previous ownership so that the vehicle appears as fresh as when it left the factory.

“Our valeters are provided with state of the art cleaning equipment, and the best possible cleaning and cosmetic products – but it’s ultimately their skills which deliver the perfect result.

“That’s why ACF Car Finance has decided to formalise its valet training procedure, and linked with an external skills provider who will also set a final examination of competence,” said Leyton.

Successful completion of the new training programme, he commented, could also put the company’s car valeters on the road to new career opportunities in the business:

“We have a very strong policy at ACF Car Finance of encouraging individual development, and many of our sales and management staff started out in more manual job roles.

“If someone shows evidence of a determination to succeed in any area of the business, we will encourage them to take their ambitions as far as possible,” said Leyton.

The company, he added, had recently decided to move exclusively to Autoglym products after an exhaustive test and comparison of all leading car care preparations.

ACF Car Finance specialises in supplying used cars, via a national showroom network, to the growing number of people whose credit records affect their borrowing ability.

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RAC Issues First UK Approval For Dealer Inspection

ACF Car Finance Limited has become the first car dealership in Britain to have its own pre-sale vehicle inspections process accredited by the RAC.

It means customers are assured that the company’s 136-point quality and safety examination given to each car meets the exacting criteria applied to the RAC’s own inspections.

Until now, only repair garages with used car sales forecourts were permitted to display the “RAC Accredited” logo if the vehicles had been inspected by RAC engineers.

However, the RAC’s technical team said that the in-depth vehicle checks carried out on ACF Car Finance’s used cars are as rigorous as those employed by the RAC itself.

All cars offered for sale by the company will from now on carry the RAC endorsement in addition to being issued with an MoT certificate.

However, says Divisional Operations Manager at ACF Car Finance Mark Jones, the RAC accreditation doesn’t just mean that the vehicle has undergone a top-to-tyre assessment.

It also indicates that any faults found during the 136-point check have been fully remedied.

“We are now the first car dealership group in the country to have removed the uncertainty of buying a used vehicle with just the vendor’s assurance that the car is fault free,” said Mark.

“Gaining RAC accreditation for an inspection process requires compliance with a long list of criteria which ensures that all major aspects of reliability and safety are completely covered.

“It’s an exhaustive and time-consuming procedure, but at the end of it we know we’ll be offering for sale a car on which every key performance box has been ticked,” said Mark.

The inspection covers all principal mechanical and electrical components, plus bodywork and accessories, with any defects being highlighted for immediate repair.

According to Mark, ACF Car Finance’s national team of vehicle buyers is extremely selective about the cars it buys in for re-sale, and acquires only models representing the best in their class.

But despite this, he says, only one percent are given a clean bill of health at the inspection stage.

“The fact that the vast majority of cars require some kind of attention underlines the importance of our checks and the thoroughness with which they are made,” said Mark.

“The RAC accreditation is an independent endorsement of ACF Car Finance’s concern to provide customers with the best possible quality assurance,” he commented.

The company (www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk) specialises in supplying used cars, via a national showroom network, to the growing number of people whose credit records affect their borrowing ability.

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On-The-Ball Staff Usher In Next Decade

Around 150 employees of The Funding Corporation in Chester marked their company’s tenth birthday in October with a glittering Venetian masked ball at a top city hotel.

The car finance group, based on Chester Business Park, said it wanted to offer the most memorable “thank you” possible to staff who have helped built its success.

They included employees of the firm’s retail division, ACF Car Finance Limited, which operates used car showrooms across the UK.

Chester’s Crowne Plaza hotel was the venue for the celebrations which included a four-course Italian banquet with wines, and night-long live music and entertainment.

Adding extra elegance to the event were colourful Venetian eye-masks provided to guests as they arrived for Italian-inspired cocktails at the start of the evening.

In a welcoming address to guests, Managing Director of The Funding Corporation David Challinor said that team work was the underlying factor of the company’s success.

In the last ten years, he said, The Funding Corporation has loaned almost a billion pounds to private individuals, many of whom had previously been refused credit by banks and other high street lenders.

Mr Challinor thanked staff for their exceptional standards of service, which is especially valued by the customers, as evidenced by surveys which found that over 96 percent would recommend the company to others.

Earlier in 2011, The Funding Corporation was named Britain’s Most Responsible Lender in a finance industry business award scheme.

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Finance Firm’s Fun-Day Raises Smiles And Charity Cash

Soap suds and sponge-cakes both featured at a charity fun-day held this summer at the headquarters of Chester-based motor finance group The Funding Corporation (TFC).

Organised by ACF Car Finance, the car retail subsidiary of TFC, the event offered the chance for staff to pay to have their cars hand-washed by the company’s bosses, including TFC Managing Director David Challinor.

And for those who liked sponge-cakes as much as seeing their supervisors sweat, a cake-sale did a roaring trade in swelling both tummies and charity coffers.

Other activities included a luxury raffle with prizes donated by the company’s suppliers and local businesses, and a ‘guess the number of jelly beans’ competition.

In total, the day raised more than £500 for BEN, the automotive trades charity.

All 160 staff at ACF Car Finance’s head office were given the opportunity to join in the fun, and representatives from BEN were present to describe its work and the payroll giving scheme.

Helping to mastermind the event was the company’s Marketing Manager Jane Whittle who is possibly one of BEN’s most extreme fundraisers.

In the past she has leapt from a plane flying at 14,000 feet on a tandem sky-dive, and earlier this year plunged 750-feet on a zip-wire from the top of Manchester’s Imperial War Museum.

But although this latest fundraising initiative had its feet firmly on the ground, Jane believes it will have done a great job in helping to raise the charity’s profile among staff:

“All the funds raised will go towards the total which will be collected in October this year when two of our employees drive to Maranello in Northern Italy as part of the annual Bangers4BEN event.

“Participants must spend no more than five hundred pounds on an old car to make the journey, and we have bought an old Volvo which is currently undergoing a transformation to become the famous Ghostbusters Ectomobile.

“This event will help get our team’s fundraising off to a really flying start,” said Jane.

ACF Car Finance specialises in helping car buyers with damaged credit records and has been a keen supporter of BEN for many years.

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Chester Firm’s Fun-Day Raises Smiles And Charity Cash

Sponges and sponge-cakes both took centre-stage at a charity fun-day held this week at the headquarters of a major finance group on Chester Business Park.

Organised by ACF Car Finance, retail subsidiary of The Funding Corporation, the event offered the chance for staff to pay to have their cars hand-washed by the company’s bosses.

Managing Director David Challinor was among business chiefs rolling up his sleeves and setting-to with sponges and leathers on staff cars at International House.

And for those who liked sponge-cakes as much as seeing their supervisors sweat, a cake-sale did a roaring trade in swelling both tummies and the charity coffers.

The day-long activities at the car finance company were aimed at raising cash for the automotive industry’s charity BEN – chosen charity of group company ACF Car Finance.

The charity provides help and support to people connected with the motor trade, and operates four care centres around the country, with the closest on Merseyside.

All 160 staff at The Funding Corporation were given the opportunity to join the fun day, and representatives from the charity were present to describe its work and the Payroll Giving scheme.

Support was also received from various suppliers to the company, including the car-care firm Autoglym which provided car shampoo and other products for the sponsored wash-in.

Helping to mastermind the event was the company’s Marketing Manager Jane Whittle who is possibly one of BEN’s most extreme fundraisers.

In the past she has leapt from a plane flying at 14,000 feet on a tandem sky-dive, and earlier this year plunged 750-feet on a zip-wire from the top of Manchester’s Imperial War Museum.

But although this latest fundraising initiative had its feet firmly on the ground, Jane believes it will have done a great job in helping to raise the charity’s profile among staff:

“All the donations received will go towards the total which will be collected in October this year when two of our ACF Car Finance employees drive to Maranello in Northern Italy as part of BEN’s event – Banger4BEN.

“Participants must spend no more than five hundred pounds on an old car to make the journey, and we have bought an old Volvo which is currently being transformed into the famous Ghostbusters Ectomobile.

“This event will help get their fundraising off to a really flying start,” said Jane.

The Funding Corporation, which was named Britain’s Most Responsible Lender in this year’s Credit Today Awards, specialises in helping car buyers with damaged credit records.

The company, commented Jane, has long been a champion of the motor industry’s charity as well as local causes including the Claire House Children’s Hospice in the Wirral.

“We always like to try and create a bit of a buzz around our charity work – and I think that this week we certainly succeeded in putting the fun into fundraising!” said Jane.

Local businesses which donated raffle prizes included: AAA Cheshire Handyman, La Cantina, Hickory’s Smokehouse, The Greyhound Inn and The Club and Spa at Hoole Hall.

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More Used Car Buyers Make A White Turn

White cars are in the fashion fast-lane among second-hand buyers, according to a major used car retailer which has just completed an analysis of shifting colour preferences.

But although sales of white cars increased seven-fold in the six months to spring 2011, says ACF Car Finance Limited, the new chic shade still has a lot of catching up to do.

Less than one percent of sales in the period were white, compared with the evergreen favourite shades of silver (25 percent of sales), blue (25 percent) and black (21 percent).

However, the top trio of colours did fade slightly in popularity in ACF Car Finance’s most recent survey, and recorded an average of 10 percent fewer sales.

Colours gaining ground, in addition to white, include beige, gold and orange.

In the view of Leyton Cooper, Divisional Group Buying Manager, used car sales provide a more accurate measure of changing tastes than colour preferences reported by motor manufactures.

“A new car showroom which places its orders long in advance is often not in a position to suddenly bring in additional quantities of a colour which is coming into vogue,” he said.

“But used car retailers can respond more quickly if, like ACF Car Finance, they are buying from multiple sources around the country on a daily basis,” added Leyton.

He thinks that the new trend towards white could be a follow-through from the “Apple Effect” following the introduction of pristine white iPods and iPads by the computer company.

Although colour trends come and go, Leyton says, white may yet prove to have staying power.

“White doesn’t show chips and scratches as readily, and can be more forgiving than darker shades if you haven’t been able to get out with a bucket and sponge for a while,” he says.

“White cars can also be more economical to run because they reflect the sun’s heat, rather than absorbing it as a darker colour does, meaning the air conditioning can be used less during the summer months,” Leyton points out.

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Dealer Turns Red Light To Green For Declined Car Buyers

Customers who aren’t accepted for car finance at point-of-sale can still act as goodwill ambassadors for the car dealer forced to turn them away.

That’s the view of ACF Car Finance Limited which has just launched a new guide to its introducer programme, providing information for used car retailers and finance intermediaries who increasingly have to disappoint would-be buyers.

Ever-tightening criteria by mainstream car finance providers, says the company, means that more and more customers are being declined.

But by referring their declines to a specialist non-prime motor retailer, says ACF Car Finance, dealers can at least hold out the hope of a successful resolution to the customer’s car quest.

And a happy ending will ensure not just goodwill, but also a prompt commission payout which currently averages £300 per sale.

Rhian Roberts, Business Development Manager of ACF Car Finance, says that the company’s growing number of referrers range from small independent dealers to major car retail groups.

Each is provided with full product and systems training, plus the services of a Business Development Manager who gives guidance and support to help clients operate the referral programme and their own marketing activities.

ACF Car Finance owns a national network of car dealerships which supplies vehicles directly to customers who may have had difficulty in acquiring finance elsewhere.

Its parent company, The Funding Corporation, was this year named as the UK’s most responsible lender when it won the category accolade in the Credit Today 2011 Awards.

According to Rhian, that obligation of responsibility is extended not just to consumers, but also to the partners with whom the company works:

“When we recently canvassed feedback from the dealers and finance firms who refer to us, the most common theme was the confidence they had in their relationship with us.

“We have an independent department dedicated to businesses which introduce us, and provide regular reports on the progress of each customer’s application through to sale.

“They also have the assurance that all of our sales personnel are fully trained and SAF (Specialist Automotive Finance) accredited in providing explanations to customers about the technicalities of motor finance.

“These days, earning a good salary is no barrier to someone being classified as high risk – but by teaming with us, dealers can at least point in the direction of a possible solution,” said Rhian.

Some of the comments provided by the company’s partners are contained in the newly published introducer document from ACF Car Finance.

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More Brits Going Topless, Car Retailer Reports

Sales of open-top cars are currently running at double those of last year’s volumes, according to a major national used car retailer.*

ACF Car Finance Limited says the recent spell of warm weather is tempting record numbers of motorists to put their faith in a long, dry and sunny summer.

But the passion for topless models isn’t being led by younger image-conscious male drivers, says the company’s Group Buying Manager Leyton Cooper.

The majority of customers for convertibles, he reports, fall within the 30-45 year old age band, and comprise a higher percentage of women than those who buy conventional fixed-roof cars.

“Early summer is always a prime time for open-top sales and right now we’re constantly replenishing stock to keep abreast of demand,” said Leyton.

“Popular makes include the Peugeot 207cc and Vauxhall Astra TwinTop – and those offering the best back seat space are most sought after, suggesting that many are being bought for family use.

“The days when a soft top meant putting up with draughts and leaks have long gone,” he added. “Modern convertibles are as snug as fixed-tops when you don’t want the breeze in your hair”.

More information about the company can be found at www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk.

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MOT Changes Will Drive Up Repair Bills, Claim

People who buy cars from the small ads are likely to be hit with big bills if proposed changes to the current MOT testing schedule go ahead, a national used car retailer has predicted.

Private car buyers, says ACF Car Finance Limited, would stand a greater chance of inheriting costly mechanical faults which until now have been remedied by the car’s previous owner.

This, it believes, will be the consequence of delaying a car’s first MOT from year three to year four, and afterwards testing it only every two years instead of annually.

ACF Car Finance, which operates a network of car showrooms across the UK, says that reputable dealers will continue as they do at present to inspect cars thoroughly before sale.

Any mechanical faults or safety issues will be remedied at this stage – but buyers of cars from private sellers could find themselves landed with unexpected repair bills they can ill afford.

Such a prospect has been overlooked by MPs who are currently debating possible MOT changes, believes Mark Jones, Divisional Manager of Operations and Logistics at ACF Car Finance:

“Issues identified at the MOT are the responsibility of the car’s owner – but if no recent test has highlighted these and the car is sold, the problem is simply passed down the line,” said Mark.

“People who buy privately often do so because they believe they can save on showroom prices – but under this proposed new regime, such a decision could exact a severe financial penalty.

“The cost of a repair could be substantially higher than would have been the case had it been picked up earlier and put right by the previous owner,” he added.

Mark, who sends thousands of vehicles each year for MOT testing, says it’s a myth that modern cars are now much less likely to develop faults than in the 1960s when MOTs were introduced:

“ACF Car Finance has very strict buying policies and a team of experienced buyers, but we still MOT test every car before re-sale, including those less than three years old.

“It’s a fact that almost half require some degree of repair work, the majority of which is safety related.

“To put it simply, there is much more which can go wrong on modern cars, and the worsening condition of our roads, especially potholes, is also a major cause of vehicle damage.

“Lengthening the time between inspections of a car is going to mean that problems are overlooked, and then passed on by the private seller as an expensive legacy to the next owner.

“We are lobbying strongly for a drastic re-think of these proposals – but if they do go ahead, people should know that buying a car from the small ads could be a big mistake,” said Mark.

ACF Car Finance specialises in supplying vehicles to the growing number of people who find that even minor blemishes on their credit records are affecting their ability to borrow or get car credit.

More information about the company can be found at www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk.

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Chester Finance Team Scoop “Best in Britain” Title

A Chester-based finance group has been crowned as Britain’s most responsible lender, beating major High Street names such as Barclays Bank and the Co-operative Bank to the title.

The Funding Corporation on Chester Business Park was revealed as the overall winner of the accolade at the Credit Today Awards in London last Thursday (12 May).

In front of a thousand-plus guests at Grosvenor House in Park Lane, company managing director David Challinor stepped up to receive the award from celebrity host and comedian Lee Hurst.

The prestigious title of Responsible Lender of the Year is one of the most keenly fought-over titles at the UK credit industry’s annual awards ceremony.

Bringing the accolade back to Chester for 2011 was a major achievement, said David:

“Every aspect of our work was put under the microscope by the judging panel, and we had to demonstrate how we enact responsible lending policies which safeguard consumers.

“A major part of this is the service provided to customers by our staff, ensuring that borrowers are given full explanations about our loans, and providing help and support at every stage of the customer journey.

“Thanks to their diligence and professionalism, and our whole culture of treating customers fairly, we were able to show how we put the principles of responsible lending into practice.

“It might sound a bit like an Oscar ceremony speech, but this award really is for every single member of our staff!”

The Funding Corporation specialises in providing motor finance for the growing number of people with impaired credit records who need loans to buy a car.

The company works closely with its group member ACF Car Finance Limited which is also based in Chester and operates a network of retail car showrooms across the UK.

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Accelerating Car Retailer Makes Extra Room at the Top

Two new senior roles have been created by ACF Car Finance Limited to help manage the company’s continuing success story.

Divisional Sales Managers for both the north and the south of ACF Car Finance’s network of vehicle showrooms will now be responsible for driving forward further expansion.

The posts have been filled by managers previously in charge of regional showrooms.

Peter Lloyd (52) of the company’s Maidstone showroom now becomes Divisional Sales Manager of ACF Car Finance’s dealerships in southern England.

Meanwhile, John Parks (27) who was previously in charge of the West Midlands showroom becomes Divisional Sales Manager for the company’s northern dealerships.

Both men bring to their roles a wide experience within ACF Car Finance of developing and expanding their respective showroom operations.

The company says it is currently recording profits substantially higher than in any previous years – and is forecasting continued long-term growth.

ACF Car Finance is the UK’s largest company specialising in providing vehicles and arranging car loans for people with impaired credit records.

According to the company’s Sales and Marketing Director, Norman Beaumont, the current economic climate is well suited to fostering further growth:

“The number of people unable to obtain finance from mainstream lenders is growing all the time, and is increasingly affecting those in the upper salary brackets,” said Mr Beaumont.

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Retailer Predicts Electric Shock for Plug-in Car Owners

Electric cars now on sale could plummet in value by two-thirds when they reach the second-hand market in a few years time, predicts a major used car retailer. At five years old, says ACF Car Finance Limited, such vehicles could fetch just ten percent of their new price.

The shock drop is due to the cost of replacing the electric batteries around the car’s eighth birthday – which could cost the owner up to £8000.

The company, which specialises in mid-range family cars, says that many customers are likely to steer clear of buying electric models more than a couple of years old.

Leyton Cooper, ACF’s Divisional Group Buying Manager, believes that the widespread usage of electric cars will depend on a flourishing second-hand market.

But this will only be seen, he says, when manufacturers solve the issue of battery costs and their lifespan, currently around eight years. The company’s depreciation estimates are based on its own study of pre-owned electric car prices and the findings of industry guides to used car trade values.

“We sell thousands of cars each year, and I’m sure that the percentage of electric models will start to rise dramatically as the second-hand market comes on-line,” said Leyton.

“But anyone trading in an electric car which is more than three years old will have to take a big hit on depreciation as things stand at present.

“This is potentially great news for the buyers of used electric cars, but we will be warning them of the useful life that is likely to be remaining for the battery,” he added.

ACF Car Finance’s national network of car showrooms specialises in supplying vehicles to the growing number of people with impaired credit records.
The used car market, says Leyton, is increasingly dependent on this sector as more drivers find that even minor blemishes on their credit records are affecting their ability to borrow.

“We estimate that by around 2013 there will be a major rise in the number of second-hand electric cars coming into our showrooms,” said Leyton.

“If the market isn’t going to stall at that point, manufacturers will have to start addressing the battery problem now,” he commented.

More information about the company can be found at www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk.

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Cheshire Business Students Make Tracks In Motor Industry

West Cheshire College students demonstrated their business sense after participating in a challenge set by local firm ACF Car Finance Limited.

The market leading specialist used car dealer, welcomed Level 2 Business Diploma students to the company’s headquarters for this year’s ‘Outstanding Business Student Award’ presentations.

As part of the Business Diploma course, the college worked closely with ACF Car Finance to create a bespoke business project, following on from the success of last year’s competition.

The students were asked to present detailed proposals for the development of a hypothetical ACF Car Finance used car dealership in the Chester area, offering one lucky group the chance to win a £500 prize, paid in computer vouchers.

Three groups of students, aged 16 to 18, pitched their business proposals to a panel of senior business executives, which included Managing Director of The Funding Corporation David Challinor; ACF Car Finance Head of Motor Operations Mark Jones and Nicola Sharpe, Assistant Manager of West Cheshire College.

The judging panel was looking for presentations that were thoroughly researched and demonstrated creative ideas which could easily translate to a real business environment. Presentations included advertising campaigns and budget reports for the dealership and each group held a question and answers session at the end of their pitch, allowing judges to dissect their business ideas.

The winning team included talented students; Susan Black, Daniel Dunning, Milon Miah and Robynne Simpson, who were chosen as a result of their well-researched proposals and strong presentational skills. The group impressed judges with their detailed cost analysis and their recommendation that the ACF Car Finance dealerships, along with other motor trade organisations, should seek to employ more female sales executives to encourage female buyers, breaking down perceptions that dealerships can be very male-dominated environments.

David Challinor said: “This scheme was created to provide local business students with practical support and allow us to share our knowledge of the industry with these budding entrepreneurs.”

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Students Set To Motor Ahead With Chester Business Award

Chester-based car retailer ACF Car Finance Limited has this week launched its annual Outstanding Business Student Award in conjunction with West Cheshire College.

The UK’s only nationwide car dealer specialising in providing quality used cars and arranging car finance solutions for credit impaired customers has teamed up with tutors at the college to launch an award specifically designed for local Business Diploma students.

Students were challenged during a presentation at the Handbridge campus by ACF Car Finance Marketing Manager, Jane Whittle, to develop and present business proposals for a hypothetical new car dealership in the Chester area. The winner will receive £500 worth of computer vouchers.

Last year’s awards resulted in two students securing a business taster day at the company’s head office on Chester Business Park. This year’s class has already attended a background research day at the firm which has helped them to gain a valuable insight into the industry.

Students will present to a panel of senior ACF Car Finance managers and college tutors in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch this month in the main board room at International House.

Jane Whittle, Marketing Manager at ACF Car Finance, said: “This scheme was created to encourage and support business talent across the region and give young people an opportunity to put their brain power and team working skills to the test in a unique challenge.

“Last year we were impressed by the maturity shown by all the students who presented and the high quality of their presentations. We are excited to see what this year’s class has to show us!”

West Cheshire College Tutor Liz Tattum said: “This scheme is a challenging and exciting opportunity for our Level 2 Business Diploma students and we are delighted to be working with ACF Car Finance again in 2011. The project offers them a valuable insight into the dynamics of a successful business while putting into practice the knowledge they have acquired through the course.”

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Chester Businesses Join Forces To Communicate With The Masses

Chester-based mobile communications company, Txtlocal, are working with independent car dealer, ACF Car Finance Limited, on a nationwide SMS messaging strategy to target customers.

ACF Car Finance, the UK’s only nationwide car dealer specialising in providing quality used cars and arranging financial solutions for credit impaired customers, chose to work with Txtlocal to reduce costs and improve customer service. Through Txtlocal’s quick and easy online service, ACF Car Finance can message prospect customers throughout the country.

Lorna Rossi, ACF Car Finance Head of Business Acquisition said “Using the SMS messaging service from Txtlocal to encourage customers to contact us has not only saved us time and money, but it has improved functionality and given us greater flexibility. A simple text message sent to anybody who has enquired about our service shows that we care about getting them the right deal.”

ACF Car Finance operates a Chester-based call centre and has a network of seven used-car showrooms throughout England, so communication is paramount. Part of the SMS system operates through Txtlocal’s API system which allows messages to be sent directly to customers phones following an enquiry.

Darren Daws, Managing Director at Txtlocal added “Our services have a proven track record in the finance industry to significantly increase ROI. SMS gives a campaign the added power to communicate with targeted customers and build on relationships through opt-in marketing using permission and trust. Adding SMS to a campaign allows consumers to text for more information so the follow-up is able to become more targeted, we have seen this work in every business sector.

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Motor Employees Slide To Success For Charity

Brave employees of specialist motor dealer ACF Car Finance Limited will slide to success next month as the team takes part in a charity zip-wire challenge.

A group of 10 employees from the company have signed up for The Springtime Sweethearts Charity Zip Wire Challenge which will take place on Sunday 20 February. The charity event will see challengers tackle the 250m zip wire off the Imperial War Museum North.

The motor finance team has pledged to raise more than £1,500 in personal sponsorship which will be divided between event organisers The Stroke Association and the motor industry charity, BEN.

With match-funding from their employers, the team expects to donate at least £3,000 to be divided between the two charities.

ACF Car Finance has been a keen supporter of BEN, the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund, with staff previously taking part in a number of fundraising activities including a sponsored sky dive and the Manchester 10k run.

“To be taking part in the charity zip slide in aid of these two fantastic charities is an honour for the whole team and we are all excited for the big day,” said Jane Whittle, ACF Car Finance Marketing Manager, who will also tackle dizzy heights for the challenge.

Jane added: “BEN provides support and advice to the people who work in our industry. We fully appreciate the tireless work they do. We are pleased to also be able to donate money to support the vital research provided by The Stroke Association.”

If you would like to make a donation, please visit the ACF Car Finance fundraising page:www.virginmoneygiving.com/acfcarfinanceteam.

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How To Make Your Most Telling Test Drive Ever

Trying out a used car? Even The Stig might learn something from these top test-drive tips supplied by car buying experts at ACF Car Finance, says the company’s divisional manger of operations, Mark Jones.

Looking just a little bit sheepish, Chris shuffled up to the ACF Car Finance sales executive in our Leeds showroom. “Look, I’m sorry about this, but would you mind if I had another run out in that Vauxhall I test drove yesterday?” he asked. Our man was delighted to oblige, but wondered if there was something about the car which had worried him.

“No, not at all,” said Chris. “But when I was describing it to my mates last night, one asked if it had a trip computer and another wondered whether the brakes were ABS. I hadn’t noticed, and neither had I checked the legroom in the back, or even tried reverse gear,” he admitted.

It’s so easy to completely forget about the details when you take a test drive, and just to focus on what the car feels like and whether there are any odd rattles or tell-tale whines. Of course, getting out on the road is a great improvement on just kicking the tyres, but why not take a few tips from those in the trade about how to get the most out of your time behind the wheel?

These suggestions come direct from our expert car buying team at ACF Car Finance who spend literally millions of pounds each year on vehicles for our showrooms. Needless to say, they only buy in line with our strict criteria, but at the end of the day it’s your opinion as a customer which matters most.

Here’s their top ten pointers for ensuring that you return from your test drive a lot wiser:

+ Don’t just take a spin around the block. Try and include a variety of roads and traffic conditions to judge how the car handles in different situations, from a straight A road to a crawl through the town centre with plenty of stops and starts.

+ Make a mental list of what aspects of the car’s performance you need to be assured about, including the efficiency of the brakes, how the steering feels, the ease of changing gear, and the acceleration both from a standing start and while on the move.

+ Ensure your seat is properly adjusted before you set off as this will help you to judge the legroom and all-round comfort of the car as you motor along. How does it feel compared with your current vehicle?

+ And it might not be just you who needs to be satisfied about comfort. If your children or partner will regularly be in the car with you, it might be an idea to take them along for the ride and to hear any doubts just once rather than on every journey afterwards.

+ Talking of children, make sure you bring along to the test drive any child seats you intent to use. Not all seats will fit easily in all cars.

+ What about the noise level? It can be difficult to judge this in isolation, so try listening to the radio or chatting with someone else in the car to ascertain its relative volume.

+ Look around as you drive, and assess the visibility. Any blind spots, or door pillars partially obstructing your vision? These factors needn’t be deal breakers, but like the other aspects in this list, it’s best to be aware of them before you sign on the dotted line.

+ A clear view of your instruments is also important, so check that out – and whether the car’s controls and switches are easy to reach and operate.

+ Storage space can vary greatly, even between similar size models of car. Is there enough room for shopping, or any sports equipment or other gear you carry regularly? Does it make any difference if the boot’s sill is higher than that on your present car?

+ Finally, when driving the car do resist the temptation to play with the accessories. You can test the heating, air-con, stereo, and all those other buttons when the vehicle has stopped. Concentrate on your mental checklist of performance, comfort and safety factors.

If you follow these test-drive tips, I can guarantee that you will confidently step out of the car with a pretty good idea of whether the vehicle is right for you. But like Chris at the start of this article, it’s still possible to walk away and realise only later that there were a few details you forgot to ascertain.

That’s why I suggest you also just jot down in advance the points you’ll want to be assured about – for example, whether your golf clubs will fit in the boot – and the inventory of equipment, such as whether it’s a standard or space-saving tyre.

Don’t hesitate either to draw on the expertise of the showroom adviser. Members of the ACF Car Finance team, for example, are extremely knowledgeable about the vehicles they supply, and will gladly talk you through any points you wish to discuss. Whatever questions you have, now is the time to fire away.

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Let’s Slam The Brakes On Runaway MPG Costs

Shocked by just how much of your hard-earned cash now flows straight into your car’s fuel tank? Leyton Cooper, Group Buying Manager for ACF Car Finance, offers some calming suggestions for keeping more of your petrol money in your pocket.

I’ve always liked the one about the man who decided to try some of those fuel-saving additives which promise a whole range of extra miles-per-gallon figures. He emptied the lot into his car. “What happened?” said his friend. “I got two miles down the road and the tank overflowed!” he explained.

Yes, I’m afraid there are a few snake-oil products out there which probably owe more to wishful thinking than to actual science. But don’t let that put you off your search for squeezing additional precious MPGs from your petrol or diesel car, and saving possibly hundreds of pounds each year.

It can be done if you follow a few tips which even the most experienced motorist might be unaware of. In fact, it’s often people who have been driving the longest who have fallen into the worst driving habits as far as fuel economy is concerned.

Take, for example, that chap in the Rover pulling away painfully slowly from the traffic lights. He probably imagines that irritating everyone behind is a price well worth paying for all that petrol he’ll be saving by keeping a light foot on the accelerator pedal. But he’s wrong.

Going up normally through the gears is by far the most fuel-efficient way to drive. Why? Simply because you will reach your desired speed more quickly, and be in the highest and most economical gear sooner than a petrol-sapping crawl.

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ACF Car Finance Polishes to Perfection

The UK’s leading car retailer and specialist finance arranger, ACF Car Finance Limited has launched an in-house valeting service to improve dealership efficiency and up-skill its workforce.

The company, which previously outsourced all car valeting and preparation work, has taken the role of valeting in-house as part of the latest initiative to enhance the customer proposition while providing employees with the opportunity for further training and development.

Each of the ACF Car Finance technicians throughout the dealership network will be responsible for overall vehicle presentation, including full interior and exterior valets. Windscreen chip repair and SMART repair work is also carried out.

The company confesses to have taken this step, and other recent business developments in a bid to bring its customer experience in-line with the traditional franchised car dealer experience.

“As demand continues to increase we’re noticing our customer’s expectations are growing” says Mark Jones, Divisional Manager of Operations and Logistics at ACF Car Finance.

“We are delighted to launch this new service within our dealerships. We can now ensure that all vehicles are presented to the same high ‘nearly-new’ company standard, the standard our customers expect. It will also ensure a faster turn-around of vehicles so our cars are ready to drive away when the customer is.”

Jones added: “We have made the decision to up-skill ACF Car Finance technicians, thereby giving our staff the opportunity to help us to develop this service internally. This will undoubtedly help further strengthen our position within the market.”

The valeting team will be headed up by Paul Dyer, who joined the company following 2 years in management at Autowide.

In making this change ACF Car Finance has created a number of vacancies including valeter positions in the Manchester, East Midlands and West London dealerships. Plus more positions are expected to be created in the future as the service develops.

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