Vines BMW managing director Sean Kelly appeared on Car Dealer Live today (Apr 27).
Formerly a regional manager for BMW, Kelly has now been with Vines for nearly 17 years and chatted to us about how the firm has navigated the coronavirus crisis – and how it’s planning to get back to work.
He told how it was taking on board ideas from staff, including different ways of communicating with customers such as a new way of WhatsApp service bookings.
And Kelly hit out at dealerships that were holding on to commission earned by staff in March who had since been furloughed, saying: ‘If somebody’s entitled to that level of support then we should be doing that morally, even if financially that becomes challenging for any business . . . Needless to say, we’ve paid ours as you’d expect, but they’re legally obliged to do that.’
He warned that disgruntled employees could well vote with their feet and take their cases to employment tribunals.
Kelly said the business could manage social distancing, as it had ‘fairly big’ premises for sales, people could be put in different areas, and it could manage by appointment only.
Echoing Boris Johnson’s statement that the health of the people was paramount, he said his gut feeling was that it would be the end of May or beginning of June before there was a relaxation of the lockdown for the showroom element of dealerships.
As and when that happens, Vines is looking at having transactional screens – aka ‘sneeze screens’ – between staff and customers, separating desks, plus having more hand gel stations, and it’ll provide PPE when it wasn’t taking it off the NHS, with Kelly adding that people also needed to take responsibility for themselves.
The private, family owned group, which runs BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad sites in Crawley, Redhill and Guildford and this year celebrated its 40th anniversary, delivers 5,000 vehicles a year.
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Coming up this week on Car Dealer Live we also have:
- Tuesday: GForces on all you need to know about getting your website ready to sell online
- Wednesday: How to safely sanitise and prepare a car for sale
- Thursday: Phil Raby Specialists Cars’ Phil Raby
- Friday: Autocar editorial director Jim Holder, editor Mark Tisshaw and managing director Rachael Prasher
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