Are car dealerships and garages still open for business? It’s a question a lot of people are asking at the moment.
As of the prime minister’s announcement last night, dealerships must close but garages can remain open ‒ however, they must maintain the two-metre social distancing gap. In addition, people can only enter the premises in small groups to avoid overcrowding. This is also understood by Car Dealer to include MOT test centres. Today, all that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency would say about MOTs was the following:
The Department for Transport is urgently looking at MOT testing for cars, motorcycles and light vans in light of the current situation and will provide an update shortly.
MOTs for buses, lorries and trailers have already been suspended for up to three months.
Big dealer groups pre-empted it yesterday including Lookers, Arnold Clark and Sytner Group.
Here, we detail the steps car dealers, garages and MOT centres are taking to change the way they work and explain how those who haven’t done it yet can adapt to the coronavirus crisis.
Note: This post is designed to help both car dealers and garage owners who are looking to change during this difficult time while also answering the many questions consumers may have about the industry at this time.
Are car dealers still selling cars?
Some were, but because of the government’s ramped-up measures as of March 23 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, all car showrooms were ordered to close and remain shut. However, garages can stay open as they are essential to keep the country moving.
If you’re staying open for business, social distancing is vital as well as a cleaning regime. In these critical times it is vital that interaction is kept to an absolute minimum, but by taking precautions it is still possible to keep a business running. Hand washing, as little interaction as possible and making sure anyone who has any of the government-listed symptoms of coronavirus stays at home for 14 days is critical.
How can we ensure our service and MOT bays stay open?
An online booking system could help keep service departments and garages remain open. Some service centres are offering to collect customer cars and deliver them back to reduce social interaction – cleaning and disinfecting them as they do so. Reassurance is key here: Customers still need to service and MOT their cars but they will want to do so while staying as healthy as possible. Garages and MOT stations that can offer a service still with staff that take into account the government advice will still gain business.
In these difficult times, it is important to think of all the ways you can to reassure customers that they can still use your services and stay risk free. By being socially responsible at this time, we can all help to fight the spread, but keep the wheels turning. From Waylands, here’s a look at how the dealership is dealing with aftersales.
Is it worth investigating online solutions to keep us open for business?
Absolutely it is. There are plenty of providers offering online sales solutions for dealers and many have rolled these out in recent months. If you don’t have a full end-to-end online sales solution in place on your website, you could consider other alternatives like payments over the phone and simply dealing with customers remotely. This does come with challenges, as you’ll read below, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
Am I allowed to just sell online?
There are regulations you need to think about if you are planning on selling cars online. In particular you need to be mindful of the Distance Selling Regulations. Our friends at Lawgistics warn that you need to be aware that ‘customers could have the right to cancel the contract for UP TO A YEAR after delivery if they are not advised of the right to cancel the contract’. Lawgistics has some very useful wording on what to add to contracts if you do decide to sell online which include a 14-day right to change their mind, not accepting returns of cars that have been damaged or similar, and detailing an excess mileage charge.
Can I take payments over the phone?
Absolutely – and with so many people now keeping themselves to themselves by choice or necessity, it makes more sense than ever to do so now to keep the money coming in. The actual process is swift and easy for customers – always a plus – and getting set up is a simple two-stage process too, according to mobiletransaction.org
First, you need a virtual terminal, which is basically an app on your browser that lets you process debit and credit card payments securely. There are a number of providers out there, each with their pros and cons, but some of the most popular that you might want to check out and compare are Worldpay, Sage Pay, Square and PayPal. (Please note, this is not an official endorsement of any of them.)
Secondly, it’s vital you ensure that the payments are secure, and to do that you have to be PCI DSS-compliant. (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard in full). Not only does it provide peace of mind for the customer, but it also protects you since the customer isn’t physically present, meaning it’s a transaction that’s more vulnerable to fraud, therefore it’s probably best to use a provider that can guarantee compliance. Once that’s all done, you’re ready to accept payments, and your provider will guide you through the simple process.
What are others doing to stay open during this time?
A lot. Keep an eye out on this website over the coming weeks and months and we’ll keep you abreast of all the latest news and information. If you’ve found a solution, a success story or want to share your experience, get in touch with the Car Dealer team on (023) 9252 2434.
Where can I talk to other dealers?
The Car Dealer Forum is a busy, bustling and helpful community of dealers who are all in the same boat. During these periods of isolation you can join them and chat about what is working and what isn’t. The Car Dealer Magazine team can be found in there too and it’s a great place to share experiences of what you’re doing to keep business running.
Last updated: Tuesday, March 24, 6pm