Large sections of the used car market are successfully improvising to handle the dramatic increase in sales as the UK begins to exit from lockdown.
That’s according to Startline Motor Finance, whose chief executive Paul Burgess said retailers and their suppliers were often needing to create processes on the spot to sort problems as they arose, as they looked to cope with the ‘considerable release of pent-up demand’ after dealerships reopened in England.
‘The used car market is very much being powered by a “can do” spirit at the moment,’ he said. ‘The industry as a whole has had a relatively short space of time to adapt to the new trading conditions that we are seeing, and there is a real all-hands-on-deck feel to proceedings during what is proving to be a busy month compared to any previous standards.
‘In fact, there appear to be two extremes of problem-solving. On the one hand, there is a definite concentration on making sure that advanced, contact-free, reserve-and-collect IT systems are in place and functioning correctly for the well-being of all, while on the other, people are problem-solving on the ground in real time using the tools to hand.’
He added that dealers were giving greater levels of responsibility to trusted suppliers that could offer a consistent service.
‘Vehicle retailers just don’t have the time or the resources to mess around right now. They’re too busy selling cars and engineering new processes that will keep everyone safe, and if you are a trusted supplier, then you are likely to see more business.
‘Certainly, we are seeing indications of this trend in motor finance, but it is also clear that it is happening in other areas of the market. If you are a problem-solver, dealers will increasingly want to work with you.’
However, he warned: ‘Part of the improvised approach that we are now seeing is that no-one knows what the next few months will bring. There is a possibility that we could return to relatively normal trading quite quickly or see a series of peaks and troughs.
‘Medium- and long-term planning is very difficult, and that is one of the reasons we are seeing the industry working almost on a one-day-at-a-time basis until the picture becomes clearer. It is a very, very unusual time.’
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