Have you ever felt like your life is just, not where you’d like it to be? You’re making ‘to do’ lists, investing your energy into nurturing your ideas and plans but you have not seen a single sign of growth or return? It can often feel like that for all of us - this time of year especially, regardless of your career or ambition.
It’s a new year, which means we’ve (most likely) broken our unrealistic resolutions, and still haven’t been back to the gym. Our intentions are good, but good intentions don’t bring results. We then find ourselves at a cross roads, but it’s up to us to take action on opportunity, and get motivated to move! To find fulfilment in doing whatever it is we enjoy, while hopefully improving the lives of others is a good place to start.
That’s where I was three years ago. Having left my job in car sales in 2007 to work for myself in car trading, I still felt yet to find my purpose. I assumed that I would be happy by continuing to work within the motor industry, and I was on the right road, but buying and selling still just wasn’t for me – and the term ‘salesman’ certainly didn’t ring true in my case.
‘Car Helpers’ was still a mere idea while I continued to drift along in sales, although I was happy to not be working for someone else, on someone else’s dream. I used to be that grey-faced man in a suit and tie wishing it were five past five on a Friday evening. I had everything I needed but I knew something needed to change. Ironically, it was while living in those shallow waters I felt like I was drowning. I was over my head in sales targets, when all I wanted to do was talk about cars and offer my advice without an agenda.
I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life, whilst making a positive impact on the lives of others. But I questioned my options, ‘how could I help? What could I do?’ Well, I knew about two things – cars and counselling! I have, after all, always possessed an insatiable obsession with cars, and my knowledge of automobiles is hard pressed to beat. When I tell you my favourite car is the Porsche 911, I hope that resonates with my fellow car enthusiasts – isn’t she a beauty?!
Thankfully with the birth of my son, Theo, I was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate my career. It was then that I started my new business, initially called ‘The Deal Maker’, and now more aptly named ‘Car Helpers’. It is only now, three years on that I’m starting to see tangible growth. I believe things of quality, like classic cars, take time to produce, and I want Car Helpers to be a business that stands the test of time.
From scribbling the initial seedling of my idea on paper, to starting my own brand and watching Car Helpers grow into fruition, I now realise that anything is possible. If we first visualise what we want, if we keep our values and vision at the forefront of our day, and if we can believe our ventures will improve the lives of others, I believe we can see positive results.
However, I cannot take any credit for the success that Car Helpers receives, which is owed to my loyal customers. I am fortunate to attract the type of customer who needs well-researched advice on buying and selling a car in the current climate. My customers want to dodge getting swindled by the big dogs, while avoiding the likely chance of unnecessary add-ons and premium rates. Those who know me know that I’m not one to recommend or promote a service I wouldn’t benefit from; one that I know you will too.
I can proudly admit – I’m a person and not a computer!"
I take pride in my ‘soulful sales’ advice. I take time to get to know you and find out what you need – I don’t ask delving, personal questions and I won’t force you to tell me your deepest, darkest secrets, but I do care about the heart of your matter, whatever’s the matter.
Some call me ‘intuitive’ and some even call me ‘the car counsellor’, which is usually because we end up solving more than your car queries or sales costs. We may even end up with a cup of tea, putting the world to rights before we’ve even talked shop! But what can I say? I like to help, so if I can, I will. Whatever your car trouble, I assure you that after a visit to Car Helpers, you will leave knowing more and spending less.
I love building the Car Helpers brand, and whilst I combine that with being a husband and father, I’m happy with the direction life is headed. It’s not perfect - but whose is? I’m focused on spreading the word about my business, and being there for my family and customers.
I love helping people and love cars – I find the experience emotionally rewarding and hope you will too."
This month’s top tip:
This month I’m offering specialist advice about car finance and residual values. When buying a new car, it is a common misconception to assume that spreading the cost with the offered car finance deal is your only choice. This may seem an attractive option, often due to poor explanation from the sales person selling you the car, who should be giving you honest impartial advice.
Did you know that a finance arrangement with a balloon or residual payment attached at the end of it doesn't mean that the residual is yours to keep at the end? In fact, that residual is still owed to the finance company, and the type of agreement you sign determines your options when you have finished making the payments on your car.
I recommend that you check the small print thoroughly first before signing on the dotted line. Sadly, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Do your research, take time to ask questions and find out how much the car finance option will cost you in the long run. Don’t let sales people assure you that you are getting a good deal on the new car with finance. Remember, a big business will try and make as much money from you as possible. Good sales people don’t lie, they know the relevant information to best help and guide you to make the right decision.
Our Car Helper service will prepare to sift through the sales jargon in your contract with ease. Our combination of unbeatable car knowledge and top-notch counselling is also not one to be missed! We promise to always do right by you and your pocket, so whether you have a new registration or car complication, call me at Car Helpers – because I care as much as you do.
Written by Paul Montagu.
Hopefully I am able to help answer some of the sales-related questions I am often asked in this post and shed some light on your car-buying queries...
Q. Is it true that it is better to buy in cash rather than having a part exchange?
A. The truthful answer to this is that there are many factors that decide that. If the company you are dealing with is holding too much stock, and simply don't have the resources to take your car in financially, or they need money in quick, or it's what they call 'overage stock' (the car has been with them too long), you may get a favourable deal. Your car has a value, regardless of whether you trade it in or not, and the seller has a margin.
Now, if your car is desirable and popular, they can sell it again. It can be a more attractive deal to them. They can, in essence, have another car for the forecourt and a fresh opportunity to earn money. After all, stock has to come from somewhere. If yours is a budget car or scrap car, they still have a value, but the dealer may just not want the hassle of disposing of it, depending on what type of dealer it is. Some budget vehicles are in demand and there is a good market for them, so it really does depend what your car is and whether it can be sold on by the dealer you are dealing with. It may be viable and profitable to them. Then again, it may not. Equally, if they can trade it to another dealer or auction it and make a profit for no effort, the deal is better for them.
So, the buying price of your car is a value, and the margin they have is an amount. In most cases, unless it is financial as mentioned above, it can be seen as favourable if you have a part exchange, especially if it was supplied by them and has service history through them. That is, of course, if you are realistic on its value. Everything has its price and there is a trade and retail price (that bit in between being the profit). Remember, losses can be made too. In conclusion, in most cases a retailable part exchange is a great opportunity for dealers to earn, thus it actually can be more beneficial and favourable for them.
Q. Where do the cars go after the part-exchange?
A. That is dependent on the age and if they can be retailed again. Dependent on who you are dealing with, they will, generally, either go direct to the auction or to one of their retail outlets. Just like a greengrocer needs apples to sell, a car dealer needs cars. This has become big business in the last couple of years and has proved a popular way for them acquiring stock.
The important thing to remember is most of these buying agents have outlets of their own and are tied to big organistaions. The reason people use these sites is, generally, for the ease of things and needing quick cash. For them, as the buyers, they want the cars as cheap as possible. Always check your prices and don't rush and get carried away. I am not personally a fan, as I know that there are better ways to achieve more for your car. That's a different story though. Everyone's situation is different. Remember, any extra pounds in your pocket help. Don't let someone profit too much off something that belongs to you! Hardly fair is it?!
Q. I am worried about whether the car I am interested in has any finance outstanding, or whether it has any accident history. How would I find out?
A. Without question you should always do what's called an HPI before buying a car. This will tell you if there is any outstanding finance on the vehicle or accident damage recorded. If you buy a car that is still on finance, then the car will be taken from you regardless of the situation. The car belongs to the finance company. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do this first. If buying from a dealer, then ask to see the report. They should have no problem showing it to you. A good number to use is 83600 with the registration and the details will come back with all information that is held with HPI. This can cost £6 or £7, but just think what you could lose if you don't do it!!
NB. A car may still have had a bump and not been recorded or claimed for via insurance.
Q. What do the motor trade use to value my car?
A. There are 3 types of valuation tools used: The Glasses Guide, The Black Book (CAP) and equally important, your gut feeling. The valuation tools that you have access to on the open market are sadly not as comprehensive. The gut feeling comes with years of experience.
The thing to remember here is that they are just a guide and that goes for any publication you may have access to. Ideally, you would get the three working together to achieve the best result.
Q. If I buy a car privately what rights do I have?
A. You usually have no return if you buy a car from a private individual. The vehicle is sold as seen. It is always worth taking a mechanic or someone with knowledge with you. If you drive up the road and the engine falls out, for example, that's down to you.
Q. Would you buy a car recorded on the VCAR (Vehicle Condition Alert Register)?
A. There are four categories when recording damaged vehicles. A B C D - simple enough to explain:
Category a). Car has to be crushed and is not to be re-sold. No parts are to be salvaged.
Category b). The shell of the vehicles should be crushed, never to appear on the road again. Some parts are salvagable and can be used on road-going vehicles after testing.
Category c). This vehicle is repairable, but exceeds the vehicles value. Can also re-appear back on the road.
Category d). The vehicle is repairable, but the costs are significant to the vehicle value. It will also usually re-appear on the road.
Category c) and d) cars will have to under go what is known as VIC (Vehicle Identity Check) with VOSA. This is to make sure the vehicle is satisfactory and roadworthy. Damage repairable vehicles that have been properly repaired can represent a good saving if you look out for them, and know what to look for. The rule of thumb in the trade is, if it has been written off (Category c) it is worth half of its real value (this can depend on the vehicle).
BUYER BEWARE of sellers trying to pass off category c) and d) vehicles as normal cars. Remember, always HPI a car before you part with any money to check for accidident damage, outstanding finance etc. Also, take someone that knows what to look for as they may see things you don't.
Would I buy? Certain vehicles, yes, if they have been documented properly and all checks are completed and verified.
There’s a new sheriff in the forecourt, and he’s defending our rights for honesty and integrity in the automobile industry. Offering his limitless advice in a seemingly saturated sales climate, Paul Montagu has been quietly building his business on ethical foundations, prioritising his flare for customer care through client calls and casual coffees - whatever he can do to accommodate your needs.
Paul's focus by which to grow both Little White Van Man and Car Helpers, while continuing to combine his time with family and friends, is always the same - to give and to be of help. His skilful balancing act of advisor, husband and father involves commitment and time management - which fortunately Paul thrives on, and admittedly wouldn't have his working day any other way.
Since stepping back from his career working for the fat cats in corporate car sales, Paul has stepped into the spotlight for our benefit, but shy's away from outdated tactics and transparent ploys used in the industry. Paul isn't selling you anything you don't already need when you call him; his consultation is free and his rates for in-depth advice or accompaniment to your sales meetings are highly competitive.
Paul seemingly knows everything a person can know about cars. He’s skilled behind the wheel, and welcomes you to try out his listening ear and comedy gold! His perceptiveness and friendly demeanour hints towards a career in counselling, but it's his passion for cars that remains his driving force. Should we call him the ‘car counsellor’ perhaps? That’s for you to decide, but most already do.
You only need to take a quick glance at Paul’s Facebook page to notice that he's got a great mind for growing a business with heart and soul. Wearing both the hats of Car Helpers and Little White Van Man alike, Paul also remains a dedicated family man; taking notable opportunities to mention his wife and son with adoration, along with his prize pooch, Chen.
Now that you’ve already taken a little scroll on Paul’s social media, you may feel that you know all there is to know about him. You’ve got him all figured out, right? Paul recently obliged my request for a blog post, and took a tea break to answer a few quick-fire questions for us blog-busters, in hope clarify any misconceptions about his business within the automobile industry. You see, Paul's no crooked salesman, he’s no Del Boy, he doesn't work on commission either. You call, Paul collects. You book, Paul delivers. Need advice? Paul will make the time and will always be honest. When sending over my questions, Paul happily accommodated and thoughtfully fulfilled my request for answers within ten minutes - now that's customer care!
1). So Paul, how did to end up living in Gloucestershire?
I'm not originally from here as you know, I'm from Liverpool actually but we left when I was very young. My Dad got offered a job as Headteacher at St Peters High School, so we moved from Norwich (where I grew up in my younger years) and then settled here. I eventually met my wife and we had my son Theo, and I love Gloucestershire – it’s home to me and always will be.
2). What is your favourite aspect of your job?
That answer is easy! The interesting people I get to meet, as well as the knowledge that I’m actually able to help someone is priceless. The satisfaction I get when I help to find the ideal car or sell a car for the best price, or just to even be a listening ear is so fulfilling. As I used to work in car sales I still have the ability to sell – and I can do it really well, so I enjoy that too! I love being the middle man and getting the best price for my clients. I created both of my businesses to put my knowledge and experience to good use for the sake of others, and I haven't looked back since!
3). What is your passion in life?
That would have to be my family and my dog, Chen Dog - he’s family too! My other passion is listening to people and trying my best to help them. I’m a real people person and the feelings of others matter most to me. I also really enjoy making others laugh, so usually do something a little silly or zany, but not too ‘out-there’! I have very strong spiritual beliefs and a moral compass that I follow in my personal life and in business, and the two areas often overlap because an aspect of my day is working from home, and I think with my heart as well as my head. I appreciate that this life is shorter than we expect, so it’s important to enjoy the company of everyone we meet (if we can). Money and things can never replace people, that stuff’s temporary in the grand scheme of life.
4). If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Hmm..a holiday home somewhere hot would be nice, wouldn’t it? But then again I love Liverpool (although it's rarely warm there)! My place of choice is my true love - Glos Vegas!! It feels like home now, that’s Gloucester by the way!
5). If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I would be able to cure all illnesses and alleviate suffering; whatever it was – I’d just take it away.
So there you have it, Paul Montagu clearly values the true meaning of life as he sees it, and encourages us to look a little deeper, not forgetting to have a little sense of humour!
For advice about your car sale or purchase, or for a fast and efficient collection, removal, or delivery service, call Paul. I’m sure if he could take away your every care, he would kindly have a service for that too.