Car Dealer Live

Car Dealer Live 32: Wessex Garages managing director Chris Wiseman

Time 9:08 am, May 12, 2020

Wessex Garages is ramping up for new expectations from customers in car dealerships, according to managing director Chris Wiseman. 

On Car Dealer Live today, he explained how ‘it’s important that when a customer comes in, or our colleagues and managers, they see and feel a completely different environment. That was the key to it for me.’

The measures, he said, are ‘by no means comprehensive but they’re probably over the top. My signage isn’t subtle and I don’t think it should be’. 

Wiseman has been in the dealership with a skeleton staff implementing these changes. 

He said: ‘This was about the look, the feel that customers can trust coming into the business. I was talking to customers yesterday who were waiting in the reception areas about how they felt. We loved their feedback so we set up an online response and one of the comments was ‘I feel safer here than I do in a supermarket’.’

This has included clear two metre distancing markings on walkways, Wessex Garages’ unique signage and a raft of PPE. However, Wiseman warned that it was really important that dealerships stick to these rules. 

‘We can create an environment, the danger is that customers don’t see us adhering to that  when more of our colleagues come back to work and we don’t meet these things, then the whole point of sale is a waste of time,’ he said. 

He explained that hand santiser, disinfectant wipes, masks and perspex screens had all been added to the dealership. However, hand sanitiser was the most problematic with orders placed before lockdown only just arriving. 

Wessex Garages’ plan was to be ready for whenever the sites were able to open again, and Wiseman added that he ‘didn’t want to put a timescale to it’. Even so, he said there had been lots of news from manufacturers that dealerships were going to open imminently. 

‘We were trying to gear up for a day where we could function outside of looking after key workers,’ he said.

‘You could see there was going to be seven weeks of pent up demand for MOT, servicing work, so it was an early prep work plan. 

‘I’d rather be ready two weeks early than someone make an announcement and be scrabbling around for PPE.’

‘I don’t see why we won’t be open on June 1,’ he added. ‘What that business looks like will be very different though’

When asked if he would be bringing all of his staff back to work soon, Wiseman said: ‘That would be crazy. The social distancing is working, and it’s working because we don’t have 300 people in the business.

‘At the moment we’re stress testing it. Until we know what the sales look like, then we’ll start bringing people back in.’

To watch the Car Dealer Live interview in full, you can see it here at the top of this post, or visit our YouTube channel.

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

  • Wednesday: Mike Allen, analyst at Zeus Capital
  • Thursday: Sherwoods Motor Group MD Simon MacConachie
  • Friday: The team from GForces to guide us on all things online sales.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask any of the above 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.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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