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Used cars: dealers should begin planning for spring now - guest opinion

Roger Evans

The ‘beast from the East’ might slow down trade, but this won’t be a disaster for dealerships.

Britain is in the grip of its coldest week in five years and for many car dealerships, freezing air from Russia is pressing pause on the potential pick-up in sales that we usually see about now.

The Met Office has announced that spring is officially postponed, but it is business as usual for auction houses and there are even ways that dealers can proactively use the cold snap to their advantage.

We would only cancel a sale, for example, in exceptional circumstances where we couldn’t guarantee the safety of staff or customers. If the roads are passable, we still expect up to 200 cars arriving every other day, each one is requiring a valet so that we’re continuing to provide trading opportunities for buyers and vendors alike.

It’s very much in dealers’ interests to get into their 4x4, attend a local auction and pick up some bargains – without the usual crowds bidding against them. Our Thursday sale wasn’t as well attended as usual, but we still sold the same amount of cars as we encouraged those unwilling to brave the conditions to bid online from the comfort of their home or office.

In terms of the forecourt at present, my advice to dealerships in this cold weather is to over-market the cars they have that are appropriate to the conditions.

Make sure the public can see the four-wheel drive vehicles you have online and on your forecourt.

There will undoubtedly be a spike in the number of people who – at home from work and possibly losing money – are confronted with the reality of their own mobility, decide they must have a 4x4 right now.

Deciding how much time to spend asking staff to clear snow is a dilemma.

Will you sell that car because you have cleared the snow off it? The answer is probably not – especially when it will be covered again hours later.

Be kind to your team members – limit the amount of demoralising time you are asking them to spend outside.

However, remember that the snow will pass so don’t kneejerk purchase stock.

Whilst the car-buying public may not be turning their thoughts to spring and summer quite yet, dealers should be.

When it comes to sports cars and convertibles – more readily associated with warmer months – now is the time to pick one or two up for the right price.

Thinking ahead at times like these – when you can do very little about huge snowdrifts and little footfall – can pay real dividends.

If you have time without customers around, use it to plan.

Create new strategies for what you will buy next and catch up with tasks you would not normally have time to cover.

As all dealers know, with its plate change, March is traditionally the peak time of year for people to buy. Up to 20% of new cars are sold in this month, which in turn boosts the used car market.

The snow will undoubtedly cause a momentary lull and we may not see the same flurry as usual – but sales will inevitably return and figures balance out over the next few weeks.

Author: Roger Evans (pictured), sales and marketing director, G3 Remarketing

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