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Independents to give their view on used car sector

As more and more franchised dealers opt to retail vehicles outside the brands they represent, valuable lessons can be gleamed from the independent sector.

With the freedom to develop a business model without having to meet manufacturer standards, south coast used car retailers Imperial Car Supermarkets directors Mike Bell and Neil Smith will share some of their insights from marketing to managing the customer’s experience at this year’s AM Used Car Conference which takes place at the National Motorcycle Museum on October 9.

The business has created a process which sees customers, some travelling from as far as Scotland, finding the right vehicle through a mix of internet marketing and local radio advertising through to managing their experience as soon as they arrive at the premises.

Smith said: “Consumers are now more informed than ever before, the result of this is that consumer expectations are on the increase.

"They know their rights; expect to negotiate hard on price; want more for less; exercise caution when purchasing a used car; exercise caution when purchasing car finance; exercise caution when purchasing additional products; require a new car experience at a used car price; and expect new car aftersales support at a used car price.”

With such high expectations from the used car buyer, Smith and Bell believe it is just as essential for the retailer to manage the customer sensitively, tactfully and with a delicate degree of balance which sees both buyer and seller benefit.

As such, Smith and Bell have implemented the ‘Imperial Experience’ which begins before the customer has even set foot on the premises and includes everything from the website and live chat to email response and call handling.

Once on site, the pair operate a step-by-step sales process with a modern twist and ‘coach’ staff rather than ‘control’ which they see as an essential ingredient to both the morale of employees and a customer’s positive experience thereby maximising the potential of closing the deal.

The process incorporates subtle touches such as managing a customer’s view of their part exchange value as well as the importance of the up-sell of products such as extended warranty.

More information and details of how to book are available here

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