Car Dealer Live

Car Dealer Live 27: Nathan Tomlinson from Devonshire Motors and Batchelors Motor Group MD Tony Denton

Time 2 years ago

Devonshire Motors’ Nathan Tomlinson and Batchelors Motor Group MD Tony Denton appeared on Car Dealer Live today (May 4) to talk about the effects of the crisis and their thoughts on topics such as PPE.

Both are Mitsubishi dealerships, but Batchelors also has a Suzuki franchise, while they also both have on-site aftersales facilities that they’ve kept partially open during lockdown. 

Denton has introduced a new online sales function, where customers can choose to have the car delivered or go through a contactless collection process. 

Tomlinson and his dealership in Barnstaple, Devon, have been named the top Mitsubishi dealer in the UK four times, as well as garnering a range of other industry accolades.

Batchelors has two showrooms, in Ripon and York, Yorkshire, and Denton shared what the lockdown experience has been for family-owned showrooms.

He called the furlough scheme ‘a massive, massive game-changer’ in ‘a terrifying situation’ – he was the only person out of 50 not to be furloughed, although some are now being unfurloughed to operate service and sales operations.

Meanwhile, Tomlinson said the ending of the scheme should be managed sensibly and have a balanced approach. Out of 55 employees, it has had 19 active, which had given Devonshire a strong insight into how consumers have responded in sales and aftersales.

He pointed out, though, that not many people had wanted to take advantage of its services to keep vehicles safe and roadworthy. 

Devonshire had managed to sell half a dozen vehicles online to key workers and people who had to be on the road, while Denton reported that Batchelors shifted 11 cars last on the day its new online sales system went live, although some of those customers had already been nurtured during the lockdown.

He added that ‘this terrible situation’ had been the kickstart that online trading needed and would have ‘massive ramifications’ for the industry.

Tomlinson felt it’d be a week or two before Devonshire Motors would see a more sustainable way of being back at work, and agreed that in future the sales experience would be more digital, but also with a more personal experience.

He added that Devonshire had brought in ‘sneeze screens’, plus one-way access in and out of the showroom as well as timed appointments and the doors controlling the flow of people.

Denton agreed that dealers were uncertain as to what PPE they should be buying, not only for what was needed for staff and perhaps customers, but also how the site should be ‘dressed’, such as changes to entrances and desks, for example.

‘I don’t think it’s a case of just rushing out and buying a load of face masks and blue gloves,’ he said.

Scrappage and test drives were also discussed.

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Coming up this week on Car Dealer Live we also have: 

  • Tuesday: Romans International’s Tom Jaconelli
  • Wednesday: Mike Brewer
  • Thursday: Prestige’s Simon Webb

If you have any questions you’d like to ask any of them you can submit them live during the broadcasts or you can send them to us via this website, or our social media channels including Twitter and LinkedIn.

You can watch all of our Car Dealer Live interviews by clicking here.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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