Dealership boss explains how his business made online work as Cazoo struggles and Carzam implodes

  • Dealership boss says online sales need to be incorporated as part of omnichannel approach
  • Steve Dhesi, managing director of SUV Prestige, says his firm now sells 70 per cent of vehicles remotely
  • Three-quarters of all customers still choose to collect vehicle from state-0f-the-art showrooms
  • Dealer says Cazoo ‘doesn’t understand’ the used car market

Time 7:00 am, June 13, 2022

As Cazoo struggles and Carzam implodes, one dealership boss has explained how his firm has been able to incorporate digital platforms to expand the company faster than ever before.

Steve Dhesi, managing director of SUV Prestige, says the model needs to be blended with traditional sales techniques in order to work best for customer and dealer.

The omnichannel approach means that around 70 per cent of the luxury dealership’s orders are now placed remotely but three-quarters of all customers still choose to collect from one of the firm’s two state-of-the-art dealerships.

The remaining customers are still able to get their cars delivered by SUV Prestige’s full-time driver, who delivers all over the country, giving the option of completely remote purchase.

The firm has also embraced the internet from a marketing point of view, producing half-hour videos on YouTube, promoting its vehicles.

However, where Cazoo, Cinch and previously Carzam adopt a more corporate approach, SUV Prestige believes it is still important to add that personal touch.

Dhesi told Car Dealer: ‘What we’ve done in terms of online is take on a full-time marketing team. We’ve been able to create 30-minute Top Gear-style videos for our YouTube channel and have got a lot of traction from that.

‘A lot of the people viewing those might not even be there to buy the car, but it just raises awareness of the brand and of us as a company.

‘It also allows them to relate that little bit more to the people who work at the company, which gives us a bit more of that personal touch.’

By embracing an omnichannel approach and tweaking its business model, SUV Prestige has seen revenues shoot up.

Dhesi added: ‘As soon as we got back from Covid we took on a full-time, dedicated driver to just do deliveries. We did that 18 months ago and now have a back-up driver as well in case of having to do multiple deliveries.

‘We’ve been out delivering all the way from Inverness to Bournemouth and Torquay. What we try to do is make sure that we have contact with the customer and are talking to them.

‘We have found that every customer is individual and therefore their needs are slightly individual as well. It helps on the upsell if you are also able to make contact with the customer verbally and have that conversation.

‘In our case, around 75 per cent of our customers will still come on site to collect the vehicles, so even though 70 per cent of our sales are done remotely and virtually, a good percentage of those customers will come on site and experience the new showroom.’

Cazoo isn’t doing things ‘the correct way’

Earlier this month, Car Dealer reported that Carzam has been placed in voluntary receivership.

The news was swiftly followed by last week’s announcement that troubled online disruptor Cazoo is to slash jobs and cut costs in a huge money-saving initiative.

Dhesi says he was not surprised by the recent developments and echoed fellow dealer Scott Shilcock, from Prestige Diesels & Sports, in saying that Cazoo ‘doesn’t understand’ its market.

He believes that the firm’s dream of being ‘the Amazon of the car retail world’ now lies in tatters.

Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer, he said: ‘I can understand that people think they’re going to be the Amazon of the car retail world, whether that be Cazoo, Carzam or whoever, but I just feel that they don’t really understand the market.

‘Our experience is that most customers still want to come and feel the metal, do a test drive and have an experience, as well as purchasing a vehicle.

‘It is having that interaction with an individual that we think is important. I just think the mundane nature of clicking a button and getting it delivered to your house doesn’t match up.

‘It might work with a standard vehicle, which you could buy at any dealership, but if you want to buy something special and you’ve been saving up for a few years, then surely you want a bit more of an experience.

‘I still think customers want to come down and see the people they’ve been dealing with. Some people will also want to make a few little cosmetic changes to the cars, which we are then able to do.

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‘It is a completely different way of looking at it – the way we do it to how they work.

‘It doesn’t surprise me that Carzam is where it is now, and with Cazoo, the way they have just been buying everything, thinking they can create a business, I don’t believe that’s the correct way.’

Main image: Steve Dhesi, managing director of SUV Prestige

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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