Harwoods Group uses Salesforce automation to save 20,000 work hours in 2023.

Harwoods Group uses Salesforce automation to save 20,000 work hours in 2023.

Salesforce delivers the ultimate end-to-end sales process that enables Harwoods Group to put the wow into customer service.

Time to read: 8 minutes

Changing your car is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience, but until recently, too often the process was a pain.

At Harwoods Group you can now complete the deal in just minutes, agreeing a specification, making a payment, taking out insurance – the lot!

Harwoods is a £600 million turnover powerhouse, with strong relationships with luxury and premium brands, like Aston Martin, Bentley, Audi, and Jaguar Land Rover. Grandson of the founders, Archie Harwood is the company’s first Chief Transformation Officer, providing a connection with its history, family values, and commitment to great customer service, whilst ensuring a laser focus on its future.

We spoke to Archie and colleagues to find out how, with Salesforce Customer 360, they’ve transformed the way we buy our cars, making the entire experience fun and hassle-free. Here are five takeaways.

Emma Norfolk, Commercial Director
Harwoods Group
Table of Contents

1. Great technology enables great people to add the wow factor.

Few industries are experiencing as much transformational change as today’s automotive sector.

But Harwoods Group is embracing the disruption. “Even after 90 years we’re still ambitious and determined to continue to grow,” explained Archie. “Our customers tell us that they really appreciate our human touch, our expertise, and product knowledge. But we know we’ve got to keep constantly improving their experience with us.”

With each of its 18 dealerships operating semi-autonomously, there were wide variations in service delivery. “Our challenge has been to harness the very best technology that then allows our people to provide the wow factor. We needed to modernise to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, and provide a consistent, high-quality, connected experience in all our dealerships, on the phone, and on our website.”

Fortunately, Archie had already had his own wow moment. He had attended a World Tour event in London and knew that the answer for Harwoods was Salesforce.

2. Warm selling opportunities with a 360-degree view of every customer.

There are lots of steps involved in buying a car. Over the years, individual solutions for each of these steps had been developed, but they were inflexible, disconnected, and used legacy technologies. As a result, it was impossible for Harwoods and its sales teams to create a seamless buying experience for customers, and leads could be hidden in any one of multiple IT systems.

In addition, Harwoods’ customer data was usually held in local databases. With drivers of luxury and premium vehicles often owning more than one, these warm sales prospects can now be appreciated for their lifetime customer value across the group and these insights can be used to enhance the customer experience.

“The Salesforce CRM provided an immediate, account level, 360-degree view of every customer, with actionable leads shared with everyone in the group, across all 18 locations,” explained Solutions Director Ben Green. “By adding Tableau CRM analytics and business intelligence functionality we quickly transformed our reporting capabilities. We’ve gone from historical data in spreadsheets to real-time insights and predictive information to make forecasts, inform decisions, and drive the business.

“With the Salesforce engine in place as our baseline, we then had the control and flexibility to add our own unique Harwoods automotive personality and customer experience in the form of additional products and services from the Salesforce portfolio.”

Ben Green, Solutions Director
Harwoods Group

3. Seamless integrations create a single, connected customer experience.

After building a highly skilled, in-house Salesforce team, the retailer began creating a single, consistent buying process in which customers enjoy the same experience, whether online or in person at a dealership. The new, unified, Salesforce-enabled Harwoods platform, featuring integrated Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud solutions, went live in all 18 dealerships in July 2022, followed by a new ecommerce website in September.

“Salesforce has enabled us to build a unique offering in our industry, with a totally connected online and offline experience, and everything captured on the platform,” explained Green.

At the heart of the programme are the Salesforce integrations with key data sources such as DVLA, CAP-HPI for complete vehicle histories, specifications, and valuations, and AutoProtect for compliant insurance and warranty services. Blending the data in this way delivers a seamless customer experience, with automation driving speed, simplicity, and personalisation, eliminating the tedious paperwork treadmill.

“Salesforce has allowed us to focus exclusively on specific configurations that add value for customers and the business,” explained Lee Harding, Technology Director at Harwoods Group. “With any other platform we would have needed a much bigger team to build the administrative basics such as databases, permission sets, and security features. With Salesforce, these come straight out of the box. We can save all those overheads and time and instead focus exclusively on adding the business functionality that keeps things simple and delights our customers.”

A great example of Salesforce’s synchronisation of both dealership operations and the Harwoods ecommerce website is the all-important vehicle reservation service. Now, once a vehicle’s status is updated as reserved in Salesforce, this information is instantly shared throughout the group in all channels, eliminating deposit repayments and all associated administration time and costs.

And with customers’ interests in a particular vehicle on reservation captured in Sales Cloud, those opportunities can then be followed up by telephone.

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4. Blended data ensures that vehicles achieve maximum sale price.

With Sales Cloud, Harwoods now takes every customer on a single connected journey, from point of enquiry to sale, collection, or delivery.

And with every stage captured in Sales Cloud, users can begin their journey online, organise a test drive, and complete the purchase in a dealership. Or they can do their research in a showroom and finalise the deal online, it’s their choice. Even phone calls and emails are captured in Sales Cloud, so Harwoods is by the customer’s side every step of the process.

“Salesforce enabled us to execute a managed roll-out site by site rather than go for a big bang one Monday morning,” explained Harding. “This ensured a smooth and cost-effective transition for each dealership, with old and new systems running side by side for a short time whilst staff moved confidently onto the platform.”

Salesforce integrations have opened up access to huge quantities of blended data about a vehicle from just a registration number, including the complete specification and any added components or accessories too.

“Being able to highlight all of that detail on our website is massively important in selling a car and securing the right price, especially in the luxury and premium market where customers have very personal requirements and preferences,” Said Harding.

5. Real-time, situational awareness unlocks £6 million in additional revenues.

Despite Salesforce only being fully operational for a few months, Harwoods’ Commercial Director Emma Norfolk has already got some big numbers at her fingertips. “Now, we have live, real-time information from connected systems all available in Salesforce, we know precisely how many vehicles we have prepared and ready to sell. As a result, we think we can potentially increase revenues by £6 million in 2023.

“Now, our salespeople have a quick and simple platform that helps them to sell rather than administrate. It’s now possible to buy a car from Harwoods in minutes, rather than hours in the bad old days of endless paper form filling. For the first time in our history, we have a single source of truth. We can see every single touchpoint with a customer and every single detail about every vehicle in Salesforce in real time. Everyone is a potential selling opportunity, which is priceless for our salespeople.”

With Salesforce automation, Norfolk believes the company can save at least 20,000 work hours each year compared to previous sales administration processes, equating to £2 million. Freeing up teams from hours of manual, administrative tasks allow them to spend that time being great salespeople.

Elevated customer satisfaction figures seem bound to follow, especially as Harwoods has now committed to 15-minute response times to any enquiry between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week. In January 2023, despite a difficult automotive marketplace, enquiries about available used cars were up 9%, with sales conversations up by 17%.

And with an expansion of its use of Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud, capitalising on the rich customer and vehicle lifecycle data next on his Salesforce roadmap, Archie Harwood’s dream of building a £1 billion business could come to fruition sooner than he imagined.

“Now, our salespeople have a quick and simple platform that helps them to sell, rather than administrate.”
Emma Norfolk
Commercial Director
Harwoods Group

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