About Us – A note from Chairman, Marc Matthew and Managing Director, Peter Isted
Since the creation of Lifestyle Europe in May 2001, through a management buyout of the Ford Division of the national dealer group, HMG Holdings, we’re proud to say that we’ve managed to build on a loyal customer base by delivering a personal, customer focused service – aiming to make your motoring experience a pleasurable one.
How have we done this? By putting some simple principles into practice
Offering the greatest choice and value – From an initial offering of Ford showrooms in Horsham, Redhill and Royal Tunbridge Wells, Lifestyle grew within its first ten years to offer customers Mazda, Renault, Subaru and Isuzu vehicles in locations across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Delivering clear cut customer service – As well as friendly, knowledgeable sales and service staff, Lifestyle has led the way in car dealer e-commerce. Our latest website gives you armchair access to everything from service booking to online technical chat systems – and it’s also configured to work on your mobile, for when you need us whilst on the move.
Rewarding regulars – Not content with making up the sales numbers and ignoring you once you’ve bought your vehicle, at Lifestyle we have customers who’ve been with us since the beginning. New for this year, our loyalty card scheme allows you to build up cash towards new vehicles every time you visit us.
Prior to the management buyout, the current Chairman and Managing Director had been the Operational Directors of the HMG Ford division for many years. We’d built up long relationships with a sizeable chunk of our customer base and we created the Lifestyle brand to promote the new initiative and contemporary image you see today – to fulfil those objectives above.
With a supportive management team, heavyweight marketing programmes and a reputation for high quality service, we were delighted that we could expand the Lifestyle group, make some big investments and increase our diverse offering to match the needs of our customers across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Investment and diversity
After three years of stable business, we opened our first Ford dealership in Crawley – a great fit with the existing Lifestyle Ford showroom in Horsham that broadened our service offering across Sussex.
A good reception in Crawley led to the addition of a new Mazda franchise in 2005, giving more choice and value for customers at Manor Royal. This was quickly followed by a new concept – the launch of CarZone, a used car supermarket based at Salfords, Redhill. A dealership in its own right but one with a difference, Carzone allowed us to respond directly to customer’s needs, stocking a range of value for money, quality used cars, as well as prestige marques.
In 2006, the company took another step forward by adding Subaru and Isuzu franchises to the firmly established Ford franchise in Royal Tunbridge Wells and demand from local motorists quickly led to this being followed by the opening of the first Lifestyle Renault dealership in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
A string of award winning cars from Mazda led to soaring demand and prompted Lifestyle’s expansion of our Horsham site and the opening of Lifestyle Mazda Horsham.
Our existing Renault showroom in Tonbridge was outgrowing itself and a busy 2006 was capped by the addition of a comprehensive, authorised Renault repair, servicing and parts facility, to meet customer demand.
Broadening our reach into East Sussex for the first time, Lifestyle Renault Eastbourne opened its doors in September 2008 and this was followed a year later with our third Mazda outlet in as many years, in prime position next to Lifestyle Renault Eastbourne on Lottbridge Drove.
We’ve really enjoyed our time on the South coast and Eastbourne has become something of a Lifestyle home from home – we’re main sponsors of the Eastbourne Eagles speedway team and can often be found at Arlington cheering on the riders.
After all the hard work from our staff and major investment in top facilities to meet our customers’ needs, it’s nice to get a pat on the back from your colleagues in the motor trade.
In February 2008 the Lifestyle Group was recognised as ‘Best Retail Group’ and ‘Retailer of the Year 2008’ at The Automotive Industry Awards. This tremendous achievement is the industry’s affirmation of the impact, progress and success of the company and its employees.
2009 brought a number of further successes and in February we were once again recognised as the ‘Best Retail Group’ at the Automotive Management Awards. Plus, our Chairman, Marc Matthew, was named as the Automotive Personality of the Year as a result of his hard work not only within the business but for his work with the IMI and Retail Automotive Alliance.
In the same year, it was a great honour to be recognised by Ford, with Lifestyle being awarded three Ford Motor Company Chairman’s Awards for customer service. This was particularly special for us, as it was a scheme voted for directly by Lifestyle’s customers. In judging the awards, Ford’s research teams conducted extensive enquiries into how customers felt about the quality of attention they received when buying a car or using our service facilities.
Along the way, underlining our forward thinking approach, Lifestyle was also awarded the Car Dealer Magazine prize for running the best interactive customer website; a commitment to delivering a hassle free buying and service experience that was further underlined with the award of West Sussex Business of the Year – again, voted for by the public.
We didn’t rest on our laurels, though, and, as you’ll see from our current website, we’ve added many enhancements, including live chat, online reservations, online service booking and even offer a loyalty scheme that gives you money off your next new car purchase.
Bringing things right up to date, at the beginning of 2010, we picked up the coveted title of Best Retailer, along with the overall prize of Retailer of the Year for the third year running. This Automotive Management award recognises our continued drive to deliver long-term satisfaction to both customers and staff and we look forward to looking after your motoring needs for years to come.
Marc Matthew and Peter Isted