The car dealer says that, despite the tough conditions, enquiries remain strong. The key challenge for 2009 is converting enquiries into sales.
‘It’s proving more difficult to convert,’ admitted marketing manager Alasdair Jakes. ‘People are not deciding as fast – we found lots said they’d wait for 2009.’
Now 2009’s here, he is hoping monetary markets may finally come to the aid of dealers.
‘I’d like to think we’d benefit from the interest rate cut.
‘Once it filters through, people will find they’ve an extra £200-£300 per month, that before was going on the mortgage. A car will then become a viable alternative for them.’
Opened in September 2008, Chiswick is new for Volvo. It took, explained Jakes, 2-3 months to get it up to spec, with details such as plasma screen TVs in the customer waiting area. ‘This boasts workstations and Wi-Fi.’
‘We quickly found that people seem to stay in the vicinity at weekends, meaning lots of people who have never experienced Volvo before are using their leisure time and coming in.’ Serving the leisure and business needs of these people is crucial in order to attract them.
‘People know about Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but they’ve not necessarily heard of Volvo before. Customers here are affluent, family-orientated. The whole Volvo brand sits very well with them.
‘We seem to be benefiting from the Honda dealer at the bottom of the road, too. We’re taking in lots of Honda part-exchanges…’
The area is very well off, which means the dealer is selling a surprising mix of cars. Despite the anti-SUV headlines, ‘the XC90 has been given a whole new lease of life,’ reveals Jakes.
‘We’ve even sold a couple of V8s! Buyers round here cover very few miles, so fuel economy is not such a big issue for them.
‘One customer would only look at petrol, and was coming from an Audi RS6. For them, 7 seats, great performance and a silky smooth V8 engine was all they were interested in…’
With both these cars, plus Volvo’s soon-to-be-launched DRIVe eco range of green cars, Jakes is hopeful of further success in 2009. Car Dealer will be tracking the new dealer’s fortunes throughout the year – be sure to keep coming back and see how the dealer fares in the current tough market.
By Richard Aucock