A PROMISE to offer a selection of quality-checked vehicles at a fair price has led to a meteoric rise in popularity for Western Australian car retailer Westside Auto Wholesale.

The Perth-based business stocks more than 3000 vehicles — with 1600 currently listed online — for sale which makes it Australia’s biggest independent used-car dealership.

Separately, its recently expanded service division caters for the maintenance of thousands of cars in a purpose-built complex with 126 service bays and 86 hoists and with access to complementary automotive features such as panel and paint.

Westside Auto Wholesale is the culmination of 55 years of experience in the industry by principal Bob Fowler and his wife Marilyn.

Together, they head a family-run business that has an enviable reputation for excellence, including awards for ‘used-car dealer of the year’ and even winning a global customer service award  against competition from the US and Europe.

In 1973, the couple had their own car yard in Victoria Park with 50 cars. The business operated on principles of a fair prices and concentrated on large volumes with small margins, a concept that allowed lower prices and which brought a loyal customer base.

What started as WA Auto Auctions changed in 2006 to Westside Auto Wholesalers.

Subsequently, the business has grown and honed its format, introducing 24-hour trading through an online system.

It now sells 1000 vehicles a month with about 10 per cent of sales made outside of Western Australia.

Westside’s chief digital officer Luke Manion said that although sales to other states was sizeable, the business was not aiming at expanding outside of WA.

The monthly sales list is, however, only a slice of the volume that goes through Westside. It has  3000 vehicles in stock with 1600 of those shown online, and the remainder occupied in the businesses other divisions such as in repair or refurbishment.

Mr Manion said the average price of cars being sold was gradually falling, in line with the subtle economic slowdown and the needs for consumers to further scrutinise the costs of high-expense items such as cars.

“We have noticed that over the past 12 months buyers are seeking cheaper vehicles,” he said.

“There is very strong interest now in vehicles priced between $30,000 and $35,000.

“So that’s where we put a lot of effort in securing cars in that price bracket that are very good value for money and offer budget buyers reliable transport.”

Westside has finance options available through five avenues for customers through its relationship with financiers and is always looking at finance models to see where improvements can be made.

One of the reasons for the success of Westside is the ongoing pursuit for better ways of doing business and to provide customers with cost-effective transport solutions.

“We’re always trying new ideas and continuously look at new technology,” said Mr Manion.

Even the way the cars are advertised is done on a big scale. Westside photographs 60 cars a day and because buyers — particularly those who deal online — demand as many images of the vehicles as possible, it led to it establishing a purpose-built booth.

It has also expanded its service division, taking it from a complementary division of the car sales operation to the largest service centre in Australia.

It is one that also prides itself on offering more than just mechanical repairs, extending into paint and panel and parts and accessories.

The new building has 126 work bays for vehicles and 86 hoists, employs more than 25 technicians and other experienced trades people.

It has fixed pricing for a four-cylinder service of $249, up to $299 for SUVs and commercial vehicles. Service plans are also available and have proven popular with regular customers wishing to maintain transparency in vehicle servicing and to help adhere to a budget.

People arriving at the centre are met with traditional service advisers but there’s no upsell as Bob Fowler said he wants the service experience for the customer to be positive, not centred around staff commission.

Cars driven into the building pass over monitors that check tyre wear and tread depth, and wheel alignment. This information is fed back to the cars’ owners who can make their own decisions about any repair or tyre replacement.

The technicians also work with cameras to relay any potential repair needs immediately to the vehicle owner and to show any completed repair work.

The service lounge has wi-fi and refreshment facilities and adds soundproof booths to allow waiting clients to work or enjoy entertainment away from external distractions.

Mr Manion said that although many of the aims the Fowlers worked for had materialised, there were still avenues to be pursued to enhance the customer experience.

“There are improvements that we actively seek and consider and we always stand by the mandate that 'we really try harder’,” he said.

“But behind that is the need to provide fair and fixed pricing and stand by what we sell.”