Two thirds of car dealers have introduced a delivery service or increased publicity of an existing service in a bid to maintain sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s one of a number of measures deployed by retailers to balance out the financial impact of the crisis, revealed by Close Brothers Motor Finance.
The company found that half of dealers changed their stock sourcing strategy during the pandemic and two-thirds had to furlough staff.
Seán Kemple, managing director of 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.”
Pushing more dealers to make use of online services has been an important outcome of the pandemic. Half of those surveys said they had to adapt their social media offering and 43% spent time building up the online presence of their dealership in order to attract more customers and allow them to access the showroom from their homes.
Dealers have taken a significant hit to their finances, with 19. 43% amending profit targets, while two fifths (22%) had to take out finance or additional finance to stay afloat.
A smaller but still significant number, 15%, said that they had to let staff members go.
Kemple 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.”
Despite the various measures and financial impact, 89% of dealers remain confident in the outlook of their business over the next 6 months.