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COVID-19 impact on car retail salaries explored by BDO survey

Steve Le Bas, BDO’s head of motor retail

The impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will be central to the findings of the BDO Motor Retail Salary Survey 2020, which is now encouraging participation from across the sector.

BDO opened its annual survey process last week and, this year, is keen to learn about the effect of the pandemic and the near-three-month lockdown period which stalled Q2 trading at car showrooms across the UK.

In the past fortnight alone Progress Suzuki went into liquidation citing the COVID-19 lockdown as ‘too much to bear’, while Lookers announced a restructure which would result in 1,500 job losses and Motorline prepared for consultation over a 10% pay cut across its workforce.

Commenting on the start of the tenth annual BDO salary survey in this uncertain trading climate, Steve Le Bas, BDO’s head of motor retail, said: “Effective remuneration packages are key to ensuring dealership goals are achieved through attracting and retaining the best staff.

“In the last few years we have seen persistent increases as a result of living wage increases and a labour market reaching ‘full employment’ but even before COVID-19, squeezed margins and declining new vehicle sales meant that dealers were considering ways of cutting costs and employees have felt the effects of the declining market in their pay, still very much biased in many instances towards commissions.”

BDO’s 2020 survey will gather additional data around the immediate and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on pay in motor dealerships and new participants are encouraged to take part.

The usual information collected allows for comparisons to salary packages across 27 different job positions and considers regional divides, company size differences and the balance of pay between basic and commission.

For the 2020 survey, BDO’s team of motor specialists are also seeking information on furloughed staff, the payroll cost to businesses in lockdown, support accessed and level of potential redundancies.

They will consider what is anticipated going forwards regarding the impact on salaries of further digitalisation of the sale process, pay levels/cuts and the impact of a slow recovery for salespeople on low basic-high commission wages.

The survey has previously included data from 425 dealerships sites across the UK, three quarters of respondents feature in the BDO top ‘Motor 150’ group.

The full version of the report with the detail for all positions is only available to participants.

To participate in the BDO Motor Retail Salary Survey 2020 please contact BDO, via email, to

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