With new van sales affected by the current climate and fleet buyers extending cycle times, Gareth Kaye, Imperial Commercials’ franchise director offers the dealer view on the current climate.
Gareth said, “It’s got to the point were the new van market is in a worse situation than new cars. Retail interest has reduced and fleet buyers are extending their cycle times because of the recession.”
Businesses are worried about the future and have a close eye on costs. It is making decisions to change vehicles even harder.
Kaye said: “Despite the slowdown in sales, businesses will eventually need to replace vans in order to continue with their business. Most customers won’t be buying a van for their personal needs, it’s to fit a business need and if that business is to continue it will still need to buy a van.”
One area that Kaye remains positive about is used sales. Imperial Commercials had to change its focus for its profile of stock in reaction to the recession.
He said: “We had to adjust the profile of our stock downwards to models no more expensive than £7,000. Those dealers still stocking used LCVs with pricing around the £10,000-12,000 are going to struggle.”
Imperial has LCV franchises with LDV, Fiat and Ford.
Kaye said the company has had to be pro-active with its product.
The van dealers will head to local builders’ merchants to get the product in front of customers.
Kaye said dealers that aren’t offering extended servicing hours or in-house conversion work should seriously start considering it.
The elimination in downtime for a business user is a far higher concern in the buying decision process and 24-hour servicing could be the key to convincing the customer to make that purchase decision.
He said: “We’re open 24 hours for servicing now. LCV’s are a necessity for businesses and so if a customer can drop off the vehicle at the end of a working day and it can be fixed ready to pick up in the morning, it eliminates downtime for that particular vehicle.”
He firmly believes that LCV customers want to be dealt with by someone who understands vans. Some dealerships that are feeling the pinch might be trying to save on staff costs by stretching a car sales executive to cover van sales too, but this is a big mistake, he said.
Kaye said: “If you sell vans you must have people focused and dedicated to vans and vans alone.
“There needs to be a specialist department to deal with LCV customers and it needs to understand the needs of that customer from a business perspective.”