The pandemic has had a significant impact on car dealers with two fifths having to seek financial help to stay afloat.
The latest research from Close Brothers Motor Finance found that 22 per cent had taken out finance or additional finance to stay a float, while 15 per cent had let staff go.
Meanwhile, 43 per cent of dealers had to amend profit targets as a result of Covid-19.
Close Brothers’ dealer satisfaction survey asked 200 new and used car dealerships between September and October 2020 about their businesses’ performance and prospects for the year ahead.
Despite the difficult times, car dealers have taken the opportunity to adapt their businesses and 89 per cent are positive about the outlook of their business in the next six months.
The survey found that two thirds (66 per cent) had introduced a delivery service in response to the social distancing restrictions and half had changed their stock sourcing strategy.
Half also said they had adapted their social media strategy and 43 per cent have spent time building their online presence to attract more customers to their websites.
Seán Kemple, managing director at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘The last few months have been nothing short of disruptive for car dealers, and it doesn’t look like the dust will be settling any time soon.
‘Dealers have had to make big changes to survive during the pandemic and adjust to a new retail environment. This means furloughing staff, but also introducing new measures to ensure customers can still get their hands on their next car.
‘Digital transformation has also been vital to maintain engagement with customers and be more resilient in an ever-changing retail world.’
He added: ‘Despite the introductions of local restrictions, and now a national lockdown, dealers are feeling confident that their business will survive further hurdles.
‘Dealers are making positive changes to complete sales in a totally different car-buying landscape and continuing to attract customers.
‘But with dealerships again facing closure, it’s important that the government continues to provide support for those that will find themselves set back financially.
‘Dealers need to keep adapting and improving their stock and sales strategy to meet customers’ needs and keep afloat during further restrictions.’
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