Car Dealer Live

Car Dealer Live 18: Heycar’s Karen Hilton, Honest John’s Dan Powell and Corkills’ Sally Smith

Time 2 years ago

Advertising platform heycar’s chief commercial officer Karen Hilton, Honest John editor Dan Powell and Corkills Motor Group managing director Sally Smith appeared on Car Dealer Live today (Apr 21).

Smith stepped in at 17 minutes’ notice after scheduled guest Pentagon Group head of marketing Jonathan Lingham was suddenly called away.

Heycar is a relatively new entrant to the online classified market and is backed by VW and Daimler and already has nearly 4,000 dealer partners in the UK. 


And recently it made headlines when it snapped up the well-known consumer website Honest John from administration. 

The trio covered a variety of topics, with Hilton starting the ball rolling by talking about how website traffic and leads had dropped off for seven consecutive days when the lockdown was brought in but after then it had been creeping up again as consumers got their heads around the new norm, adding that heycar was now ‘starting to see those green shoots of growth’.

Smith echoed her sentiments, adding that Corkills, which has Volkswagen dealerships in Wigan and Southport plus a Hyundai showroom in Northwich, was also starting to see quality leads.

She added that she thought social distancing as part of everyday business life was likely to continue for the rest of 2020 and possibly into next year as well, so the group was looking at how it could be incorporated, including online sales and a shift system.


Government guidance on delivering came in for criticism from Hilton for being ‘murky at best’.

Powell predicted that online car retailing would become the norm in the future. He added that the Honest John website had seen a trend shift in questions from car buying to health matters, keeping their cars legal and within warranty, as well as being worried about car payments.

Smith didn’t think the crisis would spark a revolution in online selling, more a speeding up of its evolution, saying they may be looking to start opening showrooms again in June or July but in a controlled manner.

Hilton said it had shown companies how quickly they can adapt, while Powell noted that dealers now had a lot of opportunity to develop transparency and trust, nurturing their relationship with their customers by keeping in touch with them, such as via a weekly email newsletter, giving them information and clarifying matters such as warranties and MOTs.

Smith felt the industry would come back stronger than it was, much more agile and efficient, having learnt various lessons. Hilton reckoned there would be a much more open mindset, with manufacturers and dealers working together to deliver cars in the most efficient way that customers want them, while Powell said the companies that were most adaptable to change would be the most successful.

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Also coming up this week, we have:

    • April 22 Kia UK aftersales director Chris Lear and sales director Steve Hicks
  • April 23 Perrys MD Darren Ardron
  • April 24 Peter Vardy Ltd’s Peter Vardy

If you have any questions you’d like to ask any of the above, you can submit them live during the broadcasts, or you can send them to us via this website or our social media channels including Twitter and LinkedIn.

You can watch all of our Car Dealer Live interviews by clicking here.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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