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Car Dealer Live: Top tips for car dealers to keep business and spirits high during national lockdown

Time 6 months ago

With car dealers across the UK in some form of national lockdown, how can they keep both spirits and business high?

In the fourth instalment of our Problem Solver series, Car Dealer caught up with Sentience Automotive Solutions MD Ali May-Khalil and senior consultant Simon Reeves to hear of the best tips dealers can use in Lockdown 3.

You can watch the video at the top of this story where the following points are discussed:


Don’t hit the panic button

This lockdown feels very different from the first – there’s no Joe Wicks press-ups and no banana bread making, for example. But it’s important to remain positive and to remember there is a way out of this. Look at a six- and 12-month plans regarding unit numbers and profitability, as opposed to looking at just January. Forget January. If dealers look at the full year and there are two terrible months, there are 10 months to make up for it. This is a marathon and not a sprint.

Be proactive

You can’t save your way to a profit. A lot of dealers are taking advantage of the furlough scheme, and some are cutting a little too deep. Dealers need to set themselves up to do business because there is business out there to be done. It’s harder work, for sure, but dealers have to face the market they have. Get your marketing right with a strong market presence, get your team fully briefed and be set up to manage enquiries.

Be transparent

Stop using old ways for a new challenge. Dealers need to give a lot of information ‘up top’ in conversations with customers, and they maybe feel a bit uncomfortable doing this. Perhaps do a video tour, give a price for the part-exchange, show the service history of the car the customer is interested in, and more. Dealers have to be transparent from the outset – this builds trust customers with customers online, instead of the traditional methodology of just getting the customer down to the showroom.


Analyse your sales process

Do you know where the customer is dropping out of the purchase funnel? Are they getting all the information, filling out an online finance application and then dropping out, for instance? Dealers need to manage and analyse the sales process they provide all the way through – from start to finish. Most dealers don’t but the ones who are running at 70 per cent operating level during lockdown do know.

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Generate digital leads

Those dealers who at 70 per cent are generating digital leads, so they’re big into social, they’re committed to paid ads and committed to driving omni-channel activity. There’s a feeling that because it’s lockdown, dealers can’t retarget customers who bought a car from them three years ago. Dealers can  – these customers are ready to buy as there are no holidays, for instance, so they’re in the market to treat themselves to a new car.

Give your best deal first

The successful dealers are the ones that are taking every deal to the nth degree. One of the key changes dealers can make is to go with their best deal first and give strong part-exchange prices. It tells the customer you are being transparent and they will appreciate that.

Also, don’t forget about value-added products; as margins are being squeezed ever tighter, dealers have to make sure they utilise video to show off products, as the gestation period to gain customers’ trust is longer these days. Offering the best deal doesn’t kill off negotiating and haggling, but many customers don’t want to negotiate and by offering a good, strong deal at the outset, dealers have a better chance of winning the customer’s business.

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James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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