Ridgeway found that the new car market has become harder in quarter two, with enquires and footfall down.
The used car market is also weakening. “The pinch is beginning to kick in,” warned John O’Hanlon.
The supply of new cars will be constrained for some time, he said, as the days of the UK being able to expect extra production are gone for a while.
Nevertheless, he is focused on the areas Ridgeway operates in, which have been less affected by unemployment and falling house prices.
Supply constraints mean the business has not had to offer big discounts, which means better margins on sales.
The great retail offers and finance deals mean dealers can give the customer an excuse to buy, particularly if they’re looking to downsize into a more efficient car, he said.
Much of Ridgeway’s focus is on ensuring it gets the basics right, with the right people, the right reporting, meeting operational standards and engaging with manufacturers.
Digital marketing is also vital – Ridgeway has 7,000 Twitter followers and has sold cars as a result of social media.
His advice was that dealers must focus on what they can control, not what they can’t.
“We look to be the best prestige and premium dealer in our local markets,” he said.
There are challenges, but dealers must show they do more and do it better.
“We’ve got to deliver a champagne service to our customers. We can’t deliver a flat Coke service any more,” he said.