Positive retailing during the Coronavirus outbreak

  22 March 2020

Last week, I signed off my blog with the sentence: “If there’s one thing that’s sure about the auto retail industry; it’s tough, adaptable and no stranger to fluctuations”. I wish I’d also added ‘positive’ to the list of descriptors.

In the past week, I’ve seen so much positivity from retailers and suppliers that it gives me, and I’d like to think you, hope that we’ll come out of the other side of this stronger than before.

Some have simply been giving valuable messages of positivity, others are making direct offers of help. There are many of these, but I’d like to single out Vertu CEO Robert Forrester for projecting that positivity on various social media platforms.

With a large proportion of car makers pausing production, I’ve also been in touch with several manufacturers about what this means for March volume bonus targets.

Firstly, all have said that for the time being, the level of supply from stock means the factory closures won’t impact deliveries. There are still cars to sell. Good news.

Secondly, the franchise agreement is a partnership and manufacturers clearly recognise this. Those I’ve spoken to say they are in regular communication to help retailers, and that includes looking at targets. More good news.

Back in the retailers’ court is the aftersales side of the business.

Retailers play a vital role in keeping the country moving through their service and aftersales departments. Through all of this, motorists are still going to need to get their cars serviced and MOT’d on schedule, and this is great way to communicate what the rest of your business is doing and offering at this time.

I know some groups are already doing this: it’s a way of promoting any digital offering or functionality you have.

If you’ve not got the ability to sell online now, then perhaps it’s time to look at this.

Finally, I’d like to end by sending out some positivity of my own, in the form of two articles worth reading.

The first is about the medical aspects; it’s the M.D. column in the current issue of Private Eye.

The second is a column by Autocar’s Jim Holder about the way the Chinese car market is adapting and already re-bounding from Covid-19.

Tristan Young

Editorial Director

Auto Retail Network

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