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Dealers must have 'second wave' plan for COVID-19 coronavirus

Dealers are being urged to have a ‘second wave plan’ to deal with the prospect of another COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown later this year.

James Tew, CEO of iVendi, said that the possibility of further peaks occurring was “very real”, and that businesses need to think ahead in terms of how they might operate under a renewed lockdown.

Concerns were also aired by ASE tax director, Chris Cummings, as he shared updates of the Government's coronavirus job retntion scheme (CJRS) today (June 15).

“At the moment, dealers are understandably working very hard to get their businesses moving again after the events of the last few months but we’ve all seen the warnings from experts of the likelihood of a second wave, something that is perhaps already happening in countries like South Korea and Iran,” Tew said.

“Of course, the hope is that this does not happen in the UK but many clearly believe that it will and, given that very real possibility, it seems sensible that businesses have some kind of idea about how they might handle a further lockdown,” he added.

There are a variety of scenarios that could emerge in the event of a second wave and managers should prepare for what they might do in each.

One of the ideas expressed by the Government was that future lockdowns would probably occur only on a localised basis, where the transmission rate for the disease was known to be high.

A local lockdown strategy could mean some showrooms within a dealer group can stay open but not others.

The situation would lead to further regional discrepancies across the UK following that which has seen the Scottish Government postpone the re-opening of car retail operations north of the border. 

Single site businesses could be harder hit and would need to rely on solutions including online tools such as vehicle reservation and end-to-end online finance solutions that generate leads and applications, iVendi said.

“Certainly, we would advise all dealers as a minimum to ensure that they now have a click and collect option in place as this seems to us to be the model that provides the most complete yet cost effective solution to different forms of restricted trading,” said Tew.

He added: “From an iVendi point of view, we are having speculative but important conversations covering these kinds of subjects both internally with our team and externally with our dealer customers.

"The motor industry has shown a high degree of resilience and adaptability in response to the coronavirus crisis so far. It is very possible that it may need to show more of those qualities to face further peaks of the disease.”

Addressing updates to the CJRS today, ASE's Chris Cummings praised the Government's response to COVID-19 but questioned the extent of its financial support - especially in the event of a further lockdwon period resulting from a second wave of the virus.

Cummings said: "Business and society may need to reflect again upon what has been done and whether it can be repeated if a further COVID spike were to occur in the winter to come.

"The economy is already seeing the gentle ripple of redundancies as businesses try to redraw their business plans to adjust for what has already happened; a further spike and a second lockdown maybe a step too far for many businesses and the furloughing of employees for a second time maybe a cost too great for any government."

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