A relatively new name in the Mercedes-Benz dealer network, eStar was established in September 2020, taking over from a business which had failed leaving a van department all but decimated. Now, in 2022 the business claims to be the most profitable dealer per unit in the Mercedes-Benz network and, under the leadership of Roger Knight, head of vans, morale and confidence have been boosted. The team has been rebuilt, and the company has recruited three van talent development trainees further bolstering the support offered to customers. 

eStar is embracing the move over to electric vehicles. In December 2021, the company opened a new van dealership at Knowsley, an investment of £3.2m was made in the site, which also has a dedicated truck facility. The workshop fully supports the repair and maintenance of electric vehicles, and the six electric charge points installed can simultaneously charge up to 12 vans. These are in addition to the four points already present, and eStar is planning on a further dozen charge points being installed in 2023. Further evidence of its commitment to being environmentally conscious, eStar is to install photovoltaic panels to generate greener energy for the buildings. This year has seen the business replace its fleet of diesel-powered parts vans with electric eVitos, again demonstrating a commitment to the new technology.

This year, particularly with the shortage of diesel-powered vans, eStar has focussed on offering an electric proposition to its customers. Each sales consultant has received over 25 hours of additional training, and to give them further credibility, all have gained experience of living with either a hybrid or electric vehicle by using one as their company car. The strategy is proving to be immensely successful, with eStar now ranked within the top 3 for EV sales within the Mercedes-Benz Vans dealer network.

It’s not just new vans, eStar has dedicated approved used specialists who offer a full range of pre-owned vans and bodied vehicles with various finance options. Solutions are tailored to the customer, including new businesses which can traditionally find securing finance a challenge. 

Leaving firmly behind them any stereotypical image of truck and van dealerships being many years behind their passenger car colleagues in methods of marketing, eStar has partnered with key influencers in the north west region including bloggers such as Girl about Cheshire and The Manc. The company is especially proud of its relationship with the Feel Good Club, an inclusive community based in Manchester, estar’s eVito van being used in its Manchester Pride display – winning best commercial entry in 2022. A further partnership was developed with a local building supplies company where eStar presented a roadshow at various branches to generate interest, answer questions and arrange vehicle demonstrations. This allowed potential customers to engage without having to travel to the dealership.

Downtime is costly for van operators, and eStar offers customers round the clock service, in addition to 24-hour roadside assistance from Mercedes-Benz trained technicians. 

Despite being a relatively new business, eStar has a glowing list of customer testimonials, including this one from Tom B. “The team at eStar Stoke are genuinely amazing people. I called eStar several weeks ago to try to arrange a last minute service for an ambulance destined for Ukraine. I spoke to Charlotte at eStar and together with her colleagues she had the vehicle fully serviced within 24 hours of our first phone call. The ambulance never let us down over 4000km of continuous driving, and I genuinely believe that it was due to the hard work of the staff at eStar.”

Highly Commended: Rygor Commercials

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With six sites, Rygor Commercials is well known and respected as a Mercedes-Benz van dealer, offering sales and aftersales support to an increasing customer base. With a true focus on supporting the customer post sale, the group has almost 200 manufacturer and IRTEC trained staff within its technical team, which delivers what the company states are standard setting customer service levels. Van aftersales mystery shop scores averaged 86.9% in 2021 with a net promoter score (NPS) of 8.5. 

With the transition to EV’s gathering pace, 55% of the company’s press coverage during 2022 has been related to electric vans. Rygor’s website is further evidence of the EV strategy, already achieving over 14,000 unique page views, demonstrating the level of customer interest. 

Rygor Commercials recognises the importance of its people, receiving a 79% aggregate score in the Great Places To Work survey. Two pay rises have been offered in 2022 along with a cost of living assistance payment.