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Car Dealer Live: Why one car dealer expects to reach 50% of typical sales in November – despite being closed

Time 10 months ago

One English dealer group has said its expecting to do 50 per cent of its typical sales this month despite being closed.

John Smyth, director of Swansway, told Car Dealer that although November and December are usually tough months, this year will definitely have extra pressures.

However, he explained how Swansway has ‘become obsessed’ with its ‘digital presence’.


He said: ‘We’re looking to do 50 per cent of the sales we’d normally do, even though we’re closed. Then obviously we’ve got the Brexit question at the end as well.

‘There are some hurdles along the way but we’re quite good at overcoming those kinds of things in the motor trade.’

It’s more important to get your cars online than it is on your pitch

He joined a special Car Dealer Live with Ian Plummer, director at Auto Trader, and Mark Potter, head of UK sales at Jaguar Land Rover.

Commenting on the shift to digital, Smyth said: ‘It’s part of a dealer’s DNA now. It’s so, so important.


‘I often say it’s more important to get your cars online than it is on your pitch.’

Plummer was positive about the outlook of car dealers for the rest of the year, echoing some of Smyth’s points.

He said: ‘I think the outlook is pretty positive. We’ll still be selling some cars in November that were ordered in October and we’ll still be selling some cars in December that people were looking at in October.

‘The typical search journey lasts around 60 days.

‘It’s vital that everybody really looks at the positives, doing all of the things that we’ve learnt to do differently and the digital acceleration of the last few months.’

He added: ‘If brand’s haven’t got to that phase yet, maybe they didn’t think it was necessary yet, I think they’re seeing now that lockdown makes it necessary but beyond that it’s a permanent change.’

The trio discussed with presenter James Batchelor how the lockdown had affected their individual businesses with new digital strategies, and Plummer commented that ‘there’s absolutely no reason why we’d be going back.’

Potter added that the first three month lockdown had been ‘an intense period of R&D’ where people asked themselves ‘What have we got to do differently?’

42 per cent of people want to do more of the buying stages online

Consistency moving forward will be vital, said Plummer. He commented that many dealers are finding that making these digital changes aren’t as hard as we sometimes try to convince ourselves.

He said: ‘The focus on standout and consistency is the key. Making sure consumers see consistency across all of your different channels.


‘Then having that same experience on the retailer forecourt and that blended approach.

‘That shift you talk about definitely seems to have happened – and it seems like it’s a lasting one.’

He added: ‘If we look at the data today, nearly three quarters of consumers are saying they’re open to a click-and-collect solution or home delivery.

‘It’s fantastic to see that retailers have got themselves in a good shape to do that.

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‘The vast majority of people are doing more online; 42 per cent of people want to do more of the buying stages online.

‘The industry is responding with the right measures here and making the shift that the consumer really wants to see.’

To watch the interview in full click play on the video at the top of this page

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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