With non-essential retail outlets opening on April 12 Car Retailers will also be throwing open the showroom doors and welcoming buyers to meet their sales teams and look at both new and used cars in person once again. But what do the retailers need to remember before welcoming the general public back on site? Cazana's director of insight Rupert Pontin shares his views:
1. COVID Safety First – make sure that appropriate procedures are in place to protect staff and visitors alike to the site. COVID is still with us and ensuring the correct distancing measures are in place, coupled with the right sanitisation of people, surfaces and most importantly the cars remains essential if the country is to have a successful emergence from Lockdown 3.
2. Used Stock Safety and Appearance – The current average days to sale overall in today’s used car market is 43 and therefore under the current Lockdown rules where test drives have been banned, the chances are that many cars have not been started, used or cleaned at all for that period. If staff have been on furlough and the workshops operating on a skeleton staff or to capacity, that means that there is the potential for cars to need a little TLC and perhaps maintenance before visitors come and see them on the pitch. That goes for appearance too. Make sure a maintenance safety check and valet has been done before the showroom doors open.
3. Get the Sales Staff Back in the Business – If there is pent up demand from the last lockdown period, and this is very likely given that at best used car sales levels have been at 80% of normal, then it is essential to make sure that staffing levels are at the appropriate levels to meet the expected demand. Get the teams back in place at least a week before opening to make sure they are aware of the new routines and processes and also know what stock is on site and ready for sale.
4. Get the Retail Price Right – Retail sales have been running at varying levels throughout the lockdown periods over the last 12 months and the importance or realtime retail-driven insight has never been more obvious. Where trade based data providers went for weeks without any form of fact-based information corroborate pricing, retail-based pricing solutions such as those provided by Cazana kept retail used car pricing relevant. With pent up demand and a suspected boost in sales in the coming weeks, keeping the retail prices absolutely in line with the market and tuned for the best commercial performance is key.
5. Find the Right Used Stock – With stock turn about to increase the question is what will sell fast and will the business be able to replace it. Buying teams have come back to the retailer groups in the last few weeks and are getting acquainted with stock sources once again. The question is, does the business have the capability to analyse the sale data and build a realtime stock sourcing plan. Remember, the stock will probably be short for 6 weeks or so as the remarketing and logistics industry gets back up to full speed.
The next few weeks will be a fascinating period during which the automotive sector will learn to what extent the market will bounce back. Whilst there are many accidental savers out there, Car retailers would do well to remember that as the country comes out of lockdown there are now other treats the consumer may choose to spend their savings on.