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A small boutique car dealership in Ennis has demonstrated the power of digital media in the automotive industry, winning two back-to-back national awards.

Ashline Motors, a small four bay workshop dealership on the Kilrush Road, has once again claimed the Cars Ireland Award for best Social Media presence in Munster for the second quarter running. The award, which is independently voted on by over 1,000 other dealerships, recognises Ashline Motor’s shift to e-commerce after 25 years within the industry.

Johnny Burke, who looks after sales, financing and marketing at Ashline motors recognises the shift in the industry towards digital sales. “This award shows what a SME can do when they put their hands together. It shows that we specialise in e-commerce. 80 percent of our business is e-commerce. 60 percent is click and collect. I have had dealerships with a turnover in car sales of over €20 million per year wondering how such a small shop has won. It’s a massive achievement for a place of our size. We don’t have a huge road front presence and have had to adapt to the times.”

Having spent 14 years as an Executive General Manager in the Hendrick Automotive Group in the United States, Johnny has learned the importance of covering all bases. Last year, he redeveloped the website for click and collect, which now makes up 60 per cent of all their sales. He also informed that 98 per cent of people buy their car from a mobile phone. This has made WhatsApp an essential mode of communication for all dealers. “I’m always online. Even on a Sunday, I’ll pick up the phone. It usually starts with sending voice messages over and back, then into a call and then into a sale.

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Keeping on top of online analytics is a big part of Johnny’s day. His philosophy online is “less is more.” Through the implementation of Facebook for business, Google Analytics and key performance indicators, he can keep track of times when followers are online and most engaged. He would rather focus in on 1,000 actively engaged followers rather than 12,000 passive ones. Another philosophy within Ashline Motor’s is that anyone can get financed. Johnny is a fully licensed QSA by the Institute of Banking. All banking is done on site and there are several lenders that potential customers can avail of.

Despite constantly evolving with the times, Jonny admitted that Brexit will hurt. “The days of going to England to buy a car is gone. Imported cars are harder to get now, with prices of used cars going up 20 or 30 per cent. That’s where we will come in. They will need someone like us who are experienced in revenue and customs. The EU doesn’t exist anymore for that car,” he concluded.

Johnny Burke and Gabriel Vaughan of Ashline Motors are looking forward to opening as normal on May 17th.

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