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Car retailers must not fail to prepare for positive 2023 during Q4, opinion

Fraser Brown, managing director of automotive consultancy MotorVise

Dealerships need to use the quieter Q4 period to ensure staff are fully prepared to meet an expected Q1 upswing – which could signal a move towards the return of something approaching normality.

There has been a huge upheaval in the motor trade calendar for some time as the pandemic-triggered disruption to vehicle production, further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has flattened the peaks of demand due to long delivery lead in times.

Online indicators reveal more people are considering buying a new car once Christmas is out of the way. A potential New Year upswing, combined with predicted increases in car production during 2023, may signal the beginning of the end of the mismatched supply and demand which has affected the industry over the past two years.

In fact, I’d largely written off the traditional sales boosts around the March and September 1st new registration dates as irrelevant to most car buyers. However, 2023 may yet herald a reset of the traditional automotive calendar.

This could take some dealers by surprise, leaving them ill-equipped to respond to positive changes in the market.

Q4 investements

That’s why dealerships must use this quieter Q4 period to invest in staff training, more efficient showroom systems, and to plan those sales events that will tempt even more customers through the doors.

Staff training is crucial. Forward-thinking dealer groups have already seen the benefits of ensuring staff focus on delivering great customer experience.

Neither can we ignore the increasing economic uncertainty that is already casting a shadow, and will no doubt encourage more prospective buyers to shop around to secure the best price.

However, this is where forging a strong relationship founded on customer service makes a big difference – concentrating on the very thing that most of us value the most.

It’s therefore crucial that dealerships use their downtime wisely to get their people trained, ensure their pricing is correct, and invest in a mystery shopper to measure the quality of their customer service – allowing principals to fully understand what happens when their sales teams are left to their own devices.

Staff focus

Such information is vital in identifying areas for improvement and in flagging up the gaps in workforce training and knowledge. Once undertaken, it allows dealerships to drive up standards and achieve consistency across the business.

They can go further by investing in their systems that will allow staff to spend more time with the customer and less on admin.

The most successful businesses are investing in their staff, reflected by the fact that MotorVise has sold more training days this year than ever before.

Previously dealerships were all about the cars but are now increasingly about the people on both sides of the transaction. Not only do customers appreciate being valued, but so do staff, reducing turnover rates.

Getting this right can only increase sales and ensure this industry is well on the way to recovery in 2023.

Author: Fraser Brown managing director of automotive consultancy, MotorVise

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