As a lender, Mann Island Finance may be the new kid on the block, but as a business, we have worked with and supported the UK’s motor dealer community for almost 30 years. The Covid-19 virus may be unprecedented, but as we have shown in previous difficult trading conditions, our team is always up for a challenge. We stand ready to help.
Best wishes, John Hughes, Managing Director
Mann Island Finance Support
Mann Island is fully committed to servicing all customers and dealers as ever. The business has moved to a fully operational remote-working basis and all systems are working fine. All Mann Island lending products and services are available.
In the exceptional circumstances, some additional interim underwriting measures have been introduced including to confirm that sales are going ahead and that deliveries have happened.
This is to ensure that all customers are treated fairly and are not put into the situation where they are paying for a vehicle that they haven’t received, and this will apply to all cases whilst we go through this period.
Duty of care as a lender
As a lender, Mann Island is proud to recognise its duty of care to support those people to whom the business has lent money.
The impact of Covid-19 on many people’s incomes may have caused, and might continue to cause, concern about their ability to meet their motor finance commitments. If this is the case, Mann Island can offer a range of support options tailored to each person’s circumstances.
The business’s aim is to ensure customers can maintain their finance agreement on an affordable basis; this includes payment holidays and reduced payment options. In such unprecedented circumstances, this individual approach is designed to provide reassurance to people who could never have anticipated the speed and impact of this terrible virus.
Dealers contacted by customers concerned about their agreement with Mann Island should direct them to [email protected]
The Mann Island team is ready to speak to every customer, listen to their concerns and reassure them that they will receive support throughout the crisis.
How best to survive the unprecedented market conditions faced today can include how to adapt and emerge from this crisis successfully. As well as managing the daily ‘urgent’ tasks, it’s important to start planning ahead and this means acting now. This is the clear guidance emanating from the world’s largest car market, China.
Having seen sales fall 92 per cent year on year at the peak of its Covid-19 lockdown in mid-February, the year-on-year fall was almost halved to 47 per cent after the first 15 days of March.
Less than ideal certainly, but a clear sign recovery had commenced. The analysis of the recovery reported by Autocar on March 20 pointed to the importance of action during the crisis as being critical. The key observation by those on the ground contributing to the report was that they didn’t stop working, notably on digital platforms to reach the many people confined to home.
Action by OEMs and retailers focusing on building future sales by increasing online activity and digital communication to engage with customers is an example.
One contributor noted: ‘The number of online sales went from a few hundred to thousands and thousands. It sounds obvious, but we have been waiting for online sales channels to really take off – now I think we can say they have, because even as people have come out again the growth has continued.’
Some action thoughts….
• The market will bounce back – even if not back to ‘business-as-normal’ levels straight away
• The digital change in car buying that we always knew was coming just got accelerated
• Dealers can help themselves by reaching out to customers now
Summary of government business support schemes
There are a range of support schemes that may be available to dealers from central and devolved governments and local authorities. These include:
• Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
• The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5m and for up to six years
• Cash grants options for businesses that pay business rates of between £10,000 and £25,000. The notes for England outline that ‘Car/caravan showrooms and second-hand car lots’ are included. Similar schemes are available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and may apply to car retailers
• VAT payment deferral option (three months)
• Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) supports businesses paying sick pay to employees • SMEs with up to 250 employees will be able to reclaim SSP paid-for sickness absence due to Covid-19, covering up to two weeks per eligible employee
• Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service
Up-to-date information at gov.uk
Digital action plan
Many customers are at home and while changing their car may not be at the top of their minds, one thing is for sure: many will be surfing the web to idle the time away, and many will be looking at cars because browsing for cars is one of the most popular searches in normal times. So, what will they find when they visit your website?
Now is the ideal time for dealers to review their digital presence (website and social media) to see just how good it is. There may be some technical ‘optimisation’ things that are missing, but, ahead of these, a few Covid-19-specific situations websites could convey include:
1. Does the site say prominently ‘we are open even if the showroom is closed’ with a banner referencing the current Covid-19 situation, and are you providing full information on what open means, ie, working from home, workshop open, etc?
2. Are your current online contact points all up to date, including any mobile numbers, and are you geared up to respond to them all quickly, especially any online enquiries?
3. Do you provide information about your opening health and safety standards?
4. Are you offering online sales and delivery (subject to any government restrictions)? If not, could you, or can you hold and reserve a car/van for someone?
5. Are you highlighting prominently any local good citizen support, ie, the collection and delivery of medicines for the vulnerable in your community?
6. Can you update content on the dealership itself, not just the cars, but focus on service, time in business, expertise, people, reviews, etc? With time on their hands, people are focusing on more than just the car – they are likely to want to know more about you.
7. Is finance and affordability clear and obvious – ensuring that it complies with financial promotional requirements?
If you don’t know how to update your site, contact your web provider. For financial promotional help, your local Mann Island Finance account manager will be able to put you on the right path.
Supporting the dealer network
by Andy Muir
Head of sales, Mann Island Finance
We are very aware of the challenges facing our motor retailer customers.
Personal service goes hand in hand with personal relationships and, while our field team may be grounded, we are striving to provide as much help and one-to-one contact as we can.
We are working to ensure that dealers are aware of all the support options that can help them and their business and sharing best practices across our network.
Our account managers are at your service
One area in which I’m sure we can help is by offering access to our highly experienced team across the UK. We have always made our team available to talk directly with customers, notably on the more complex finance agreements for business users but, right now, I believe they may be able to do more. Inevitably, there will be some essential workers who may find that they need to change their car or van.
At the same time, with many people ‘locked down’, potential customers are browsing online in ever greater numbers.
Could our team become part of your team, at least on a remote basis, if a customer needs finance support and help you to create some future pipeline business?
For help and support, contact the Mann Island Finance Team at [email protected]
W: mannisland.co.uk T: 0370 600 6668