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Progress Suzuki launches 'clean air' coronavirus initiative for over-70s

Progress managing director Terence Byrne

Progress Group managing director Terence Byrne has launched free 'clean air' air conditioning services for customers over 70 in a bid to show his business cares during the coronavirus outbreak.

Byrne, boss of the group which operates Suzuki franchises in Milton Keynes and Kettering, said that offering reassurance to customers with the service – which he hopes will improve the quality of the air over-70s breathe to ease anxiety about the respiratory infection – would help show that the automotive retail sector cares.

The offer includes a 50% discount on a “full cleanse” and service of air conditioning units for under-70s.

And while Byrne concedes that he may not have hit on a cure for the virus, similar actions could help build resilience against COVID-19.

“Air conditioning units and filters can be rife with bacteria if not properly maintained,” he said. “If we can improve the quality of air that our older customers are breathing right now it just might help to make a difference.”

Progress is willing to collect vehicles from customers to carry out the free service, Byrne said, to avoid unnecessary contact for older customers now putting into action Government advice on ‘social distancing’.

In its showrooms the group has taken various precautions in an attempt to keep coronavirus at bay, Byrne said, including the application of steering wheel and gear stick covers on all its vehicles.

A shortage of such components had seen the group resort to using cling film on certain vehicles, however, Byrne conceded.

Byrne said he was partially inspired to contact AM about their offer of free air conditioning services – something he feels other retailers across the UK could offer – after reading yesterday’s (March 17) exclusive story about Peter Vardy’s offer of the SilverBullet ecommerce online car retail platform for free.

Vardy had identified that car retailers unequipped to facilitate contactless online car sales during the coronavirus could be more severely impacted by the outbreak and, as such, offered a three-month free trial of the platform to any interested business.

Byrne said that, just as Vardy had shown support for his fellow retailers, Progress wanted to leverage its customer relations by showing that they cared at a time of need.

He said: “We want to see these customers for years to come and if their abiding memory at the end of all this is that we went above and beyond to look after them then that will go a long way to foster better relations when we get back to normal.

“At a time like this it can’t be all about turnover, we have to show that we care for our customers.”

​In March 2019 Progress sold its Skoda businesses in Bedford, Harlow, Letchworth and Northampton to Marshall Motor Group for an undisclosed sum.

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