Car Dealer Live 8 saw Jamie Caple, owner of used car dealership Car Quay, share his experiences of shutting the doors to his business and not knowing when his team would be back there.
Caple runs the dealership, based in Derbyshire, and is well known in the industry and wider car community for his starring role on television show Used Car Wars.
He also takes an active role in the Car Dealer Sales Facebook Group, a closed group that has become a place for support, advice and some general silliness. This gained him high praise from other car dealers and saw him voted as Dealers’ Dealer at the 2019 Car Dealer Magazine Used Car Awards.
During the interview, Caple told how weird it felt locking the doors, having set the business up some three years ago and developed it. ‘But, you know, positive view, when we get back, it’s ready, it’s there, the site’s good to go. We’ve got everything in place to make the most of the opportunities that I do genuinely believe will be there when we get through this challenging situation.’
He told how there were varying moods in the Facebook group, including uncertainty about delivering and selling, and added that he was starting to feel there was an undercurrent of some dealers still selling and bending the rules a bit but not being very public about it for fear of reprisals or a backlash. That aside, though, he said the group was a place where dealers, being social creatures, could find help and support during this period of isolation.
Looking ahead, he feared the number of dealers would shrink as a result of the enforced closures, but he said more cars would be delivered because of a pent-up demand. And he predicted that new online retailer Cazoo would enjoy ‘a massive win’ as a result of the pandemic, as there would be more reluctance among customers to go to showrooms.
In addition, he predicted that people would want their own privacy, so there would be less public transport use, and they’d be averse to car-sharing – all good news for the used car trade, as the new car supply chain would be in what he called ‘a mess’. Caple said: ‘People will still be buying cars and we will be there to serve them, to cater to them, and if their demands and needs change, then we will change with it. This one of the benefits of being a small independent.’
Turning to advertising, the voluble Caple acknowledged the quality leads fed by Auto Trader but said it had to continue its fees freeze throughout May if it wanted to keep customers on side. Until then, though, he said would be suspending his account for now. But he vowed he would return to it. And emphasising how vital it was that advertisers supported dealers through this crisis, he implored those offering 50 per cent off to go the full 100 per cent.
Other topics covered included fuel prices, electric cars and auctions. You can watch the full interview above, and if you subscribe to Car Dealer Magazine’s YouTube channel you’ll get a notification when we go live each and every weekday. You can do so by clicking here.