Differing levels of retailer support from OEMs

  05 April 2020

My heart has been lifted in the past week by the multitude of stories from retailers about the help they’ve given key workers, from making sure vehicles are maintained properly, to supplying vehicles for vital deliveries.

The manufacturers have been helping too, but what seems to be inconsistent is the level of support the brands are putting in place for the franchise holders.

One retailer that contacted Auto Retail this week wanted to highlight the inconsistencies between brands and called for a level playing field.

Further investigation reveals most national sales companies are offering assistance and, typically, this includes a freeze on training fees and help with credit facilities either on parts or stock, or both.

Some brands are going much further and looking ahead. One well-regarded volume brand is offering to maintain Q2 support/bonus payments based on what retailers achieved in the same period last year.

However, the same investigations also revealed a few anomalies; one premium brand was still calling retailers to review their Q1 marketing campaigns and one volume brand was still doing mystery shopping – presumably online.

It seems that in these cases the left hand may not know what the right hand is doing.

As Auto Retail Agenda reveals this week, there’s still some demand for cars, and if retailers are to survive the current challenges, they will eventually need to start selling cars again. Currently car sales and, more importantly, deliveries are a grey area. Showrooms have to be shut, but deliveries of other retail goods bought online are allowed.

To steal Robert Forrester’s line from last week’s Auto Retail Live, ‘what if a nurse has an accident, her car’s written off, and she needs a replacement?’

When asked what the SMMT was doing to clarify this with Government, an SMMT spokesman maintained some retailers were still selling online, and delivering, new cars.

This is in marked contrast to what Auto Retail Agenda is hearing. So much so, one large automotive manufacturing group told us they were lobbying government directly (and not through the SMMT) to get this sorted as quickly as possible.

One source said: “We’re not selling any cars at the moment. If people can still buy other goods online and have them delivered to home, why not cars, if we can prove the rules on social distancing are being maintained?”

Obviously the most important thing is for as many people as possible to stay home and stay safe, but for those (key workers) that need to stay mobile to help others; why shouldn’t they be able to buy a car online?

Tristan Young

Editorial Director

Auto Retail Network

imageTags: Coronavirus

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