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AM News Show: Franchised car retail must find new ‘middle ground’

Franchised car retail needs to find a new “middle ground” to retain profitability and high levels of customer service when the vehicle supply crisis finally ends, the AM News Show has been told.

On the latest edition of the popular podcast Arbury Motor Group managing director Ben Archer joined IMDA co-founder and Specialist Cars owner Umesh Samani, AM editor Tim Rose and news and features editor Tom Sharpe in the Armchair Marketing Studio.

New cars arriving with technology features missing, the growing strain on consumer spending and a softening new car market were all up for discussion in the episode.

But, while Arbury Group continues the battle to keep customers happy despite long lead times and specification discrepancies, Archer said he does not want to return to where the market had been pre-COVID.

“I hope that we just don’t go back to this push wholesale piece,” said the boss of the Bromsgrove-based AM100 Abarth, Citroen, Fiat, Nissan, Peugeot, Seat and Skoda retailer.

“There’s a middle ground to be had. There’s somewhere in the middle we can operate in an efficient effective way, making good margins and looking after the customer in the right amount of time.”

Archer featured in a recent AM news insight feature which investigated the impact of recent supply shortages on the new and used car sector.

In it, in quotes taken from the AM News Show, he revealed that one customer, a wheelchair user, had been told the car that had been awaiting delivery of would come without the required electric boot mechanism – rendering it unfit for purpose.

“That’s a huge issue from a customer experience point of view”, he said.

Samani suggested car traders will have to be eagle-eyed when stocking their forecourts in two or three years’ time.

“The problem is this is a constant thing. It’s going on now but it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

“Some dealers aren’t trained, they rely on data these days, but they are going to have to go back to basics.”

Produced in association with Armchair Marketing, the AM News Show is available via Youtube now, with a back catalogue of episodes accessible via AM Online here.

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