Dealers need to make things as simple as possible for people to buy used cars during the new lockdowns.
That’s the advice from Startline Motor Finance, which says continuing to sell cars successfully while the new restrictions are in force will hinge on that crucial factor.
The first lockdowns, plus the roll-out of the vaccines, means the used car sector can be reasonably confident about its prospects for the next few months if it meets buyer needs, said chief executive Paul Burgess.
‘The key lesson from the pandemic so far is that if people are able to continue to buy used cars, they will do so – and in relatively strong and sometimes even exceptional numbers.
‘As soon as dealers and introducers were able to resume sales after the first lockdown, consumers immediately started buying, and the second lockdown, in November, had a relatively small impact on levels of business.
‘However, the used car businesses that thrived through these moments were those that made it easy within the new trading models for customers to buy.
‘In lockdown situations, sales success is all about removing obstacles to purchasing.’
He added that since the start of the pandemic, Startline had been putting a lot of effort into making it as easy as possible for dealers and other introducers to process motor finance, producing a measurable impact on sales.
‘Lockdown places dealers in a situation where all sales are digital, based on a click-and-collect or home delivery model, and this unavoidably changes customer expectations.
‘The fact is that 2021’s consumers expect digital processes to be fast, slick and easy. This is true whether they are buying cars from a dealer or cornflakes from Tesco.
‘Our experience is that the dealers and introducers that have recognised this fact and worked to satisfy the customer’s digital requirements are the ones that have really thrived over the past few months.’
The mentality of buyers was likely to be a lot different during these lockdowns than in earlier periods of restriction, he pointed out.
‘There is no doubt that entering a further period of lockdown is a depressing prospect, but this time around it does feel like an end is in sight because the vaccination programme is going to become increasingly visible.
‘However long it takes for the vaccine to have an impact on restrictions of movement, we do now know that moment is coming at some point, which was not a certainty previously, and people will want to buy cars to take advantage of the approaching freedom.’