This year marks the 15th anniversary for performance specialist Revolution Motorstore. The outfit won our Retailer of the Year Award in 2010, but in truth itâ€™s a mix of heady Halfords parts and busy tuning shop.
Last September Revolution lost the ability to take orders on its old website when the company which provided it went into administration. Thereâ€™s a spanking new site now, developed locally, and despite the pause in e-sales, and an overall decline in the performance market, the husband and wife team of Glenn and Lisa Campbell have thrived.
Adapting to new markets, new customers and new demands means turnover increased 8.5 percent last year and is up 11 percent so far in 2012.
In itâ€™s first day online the new site took double the amount of orders that the old site would do, and Glenn says Revolution is also getting ten to 15 enquiries through its Facebook page which now has 6500 likes.
â€œThe old site was very black, very dark with white text,â€ says Glenn. â€œNow itâ€™s white, clear easier on the eye. Itâ€™s got a lot of dropdowns and is really easy to get around. Itâ€™s fantastic now.
â€œWeâ€™ve lost some day-to-day customers. It was last September that the checkout ended. The website was all there, but you couldnâ€™t press the buy button.
â€œItâ€™s amazing how many loyal customers weâ€™ve kept from the old site, though.â€
Developed at the cost of Â£50,000, the site is as slick as the store and gives visitors numerous ways to search the tens of thousands of parts online. This online range will double by the end of the year as braking, tyres, exhaust and suspension is added to the mix.
At the moment Glenn says about 40 percent of sales are online but that this will shift to 60 percent in the next couple of years, perhaps more. As well as revolution247.com, Glenn has registered a host of other domain names, like justsubaru.com, to catch specific customers and offer them a narrowed down range.
Japanese brands have done brisk trade for Glenn in the past, and heâ€™s hoping to drum up some more exposure for Revolution with a heavily modified 1100kg, 500bhp Subaru that the firm has been building. The aim is to beat the 7:55 Nordschleife Subaru lap record, currently held by Tommi MÃ¤kinen, on October 6.
â€œI do a lot of track days and take customers out on flying laps, but this is a bit serious so weâ€™ve hired Charlie Kaufman, a GT3 driver. Heâ€™s done about 30,000 laps of the Nurburgring.
â€œIf we break the lap record weâ€™ll build ten of the cars, all with numbered plaques.
â€œIt will be Â£40,000 plus the donor car which are going for between Â£6000 and Â£10,000. Itâ€™s pretty amazing, weâ€™ve got to smash it.
â€œPeople are sticking with French, but a lot of Japanese drivers have moved over to Germany with the better build quality.
â€œThereâ€™s a huge scene in German marques, itâ€™s massive, the biggest growth weâ€™ve seen on the last 12 months â€“ Audi RS4, Golfs, E46 BMWs.
â€œTheyâ€™re very switched on, it only ever seems to be real modifications. They wonâ€™t do sticky-on bits, only exhausts, manifolds, high-flow cats, camshaft work. Iâ€™m very impressed by the level of detail they expect from us.
â€œIt needs to have a friendly feel. You might walk into a shop for a TV and pay Â£499, job done, but thereâ€™s got to be more than that with us, thereâ€™s got to be a reason to come back.
â€œWeâ€™re also looking to expand â€“ more workshop space would be fantastic. Weâ€™re looking to get more servicing products which has a cracking margin.
â€œThatâ€™s probably part of the business we develop more â€“ general workshop services. Thatâ€™s probably a weakness of the business. We should get the calls for servicing work in the first place rather than chase it.
â€œIf we get that workshop we can release a bit of space in the shop, put in a nice little cafÃ© upstairs. Weâ€™ve already got a breakfast bar by the windows so you can watch the workshop and a little waiting area, with tv, magazines, free coffee and so on, but you could do that little bit extra couldnâ€™t you?â€