Umesh Samani IMDA chairmanUmesh Samani IMDA chairman


Celebrating 1,000 members: The problems for independent dealers haven’t changed but the IMDA has

  • The IMDA has now hit 1,000 independent dealer members
  • It set up in 2017 and has grown what it can offer dealers as its numbers have increased
  • Chairman Umesh Samani talks to Car Dealer about how the association has changed

Time 1:06 pm, August 14, 2023

The Independent Motor Dealers Association (IMDA) is celebrating 1,000 members but chairman Umesh Samani says that ‘it’s never been about numbers’. 

The issues that surround being an independent dealer have changed little in the last six years but the IMDA has been able to develop what it does to help solve some of those problems.

The association has been running since 2017 and now offers a range of products and services from more than 50 partners, as well as free legal advice, DVLA support and a new aftersales group all adding value that would normally only be for larger groups.

Samani, pictured above, told Car Dealer: ‘We’ve never been about numbers. It’s trying to get like minded trusted dealers together.

‘We want to bring the best of the industry because used car dealers get slagged off but most of us do a mega job. We will look after customers, we sell decent cars, but we all get tarred with the same brush.

‘We want customers to see the IMDA logo and know that means a trusted dealer is going to look after you. We’ve even had customers find a website and contact and ask if this dealer is a member of your association or what’s your code of conduct?’

The association may never have been about numbers but reaching more and helping as many independent dealers as they can has been at the core of every new service.

Samani explains to me that the new services, such as the aforementioned DVLA support, has been vital to many independent dealers who otherwise would have spent hours on the phone battling for an answer.

He added: ‘We’ve even been able to sort direct contact with DVLA, which is massive, massive help for dealers because if you’re trying to speak to DVLA you can’t get through to anybody.

‘So now we have a direct contact, if our dealers have issues they just pick the phone up to us.’

He continued: ‘Now we want to help the rest of the rest of the dealer network out there, all the independents, and I think they realise they do need some help. 

‘The problem for many independent dealers is they are just cocooned in their own little world. They don’t get a chance to meet other people or talk to them if they have a problem, and they don’t know what to do or who to speak to when to. 

‘This is especially true with the FCA queries and legislation. We’re making traction now but the next step is how do we reach the other 12,000 or 14,000 independent dealers – how do we tell them who we are?’

It’s also recently added an aftersales network where dealers can get support if something goes wrong with a vehicle further afield.

‘It’s just nice to have a dealer support network group,’ Samani said. ‘I can go to the interactive map, type the postcode in see who’s there.

‘I then call them up and say ‘do you mind just looking after Mr Smith?”

‘It helps me and it helps the customers. They’re not being ripped off and the problem can be solved quickly.’

So where will the IMDA be going next on its search for more members? It’s not about quantity, it’s quality, says Samani.

‘We’re not saying we’re trying to judge every dealer there is but we’re trying to find the best dealers and like-minded dealers who talk to each other.’

He added: ‘One of the things which was quite challenging in the early days is dealers don’t talk to each other because they’re scared that everyone is competition.

‘In reality, we can all help support each other.’

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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