Retailers should capitalise on 2016 legacy

  John Swift

2016 was a record for new car registrations with 2,692,786 getting their first owner and with the bulk of these on three year cycles it means a lot of people now need to do something about it. That opens the door for retailers to get repeat business and while not everyone will want to roll over into a new deal at the very least there must be some conversations had and decisions made.

It was partly why David Smyth, director of family-run Swansway Group, was absolutely on the money when he said during this week’s (excellent, by the way) Auto Retail Network Live Q1 Briefing that the 20+ dealerships in his group are still busy; a lot of people are buying cars because a lot of people need to buy cars, he said.

The motor trade always talks itself up but the three speakers, David, Catherine Faiers, operations director, Auto Trader and Daniel Gregorious, head of sales and marketing at MG Motor UK all sounded buoyant. An online survey done during the broadcast backed that up with almost half the respondents expecting to sell more this year, more than a third expecting to tread water and remain broadly the same as 2018 and the rest predicting a fall. Given the national political and economic headlines that seems like a good outcome if it turns out to be true.

David was positive as was Catherine and Daniel – well, Daniel just smiled every time he opened his mouth but the way MG’s business seems to be going at the moment he would, wouldn’t he!

But with the positivity came the warning that while the 2016 legacy provides a good opportunity, retailers really need to grasp it and drive the leads contained in their databases.

It seems incredible to me that with three year PCPs coming to the end of their term some finance and sales teams are not getting together to discuss who and how to approach returnees but anecdotal talk from one DMS supplier tells me otherwise. It seems scarcely believable that aftersales departments are not gearing up because next month more than 518,000 cars will be needing their first MOT but again, that’s what I heard this week from another source in a position to know.

Of all the comments spoken in our briefing, one stood out and it was Catherine who said that retailers need to maintain regular contact with customers because the buying process can be quite a long journey these days, given the complexity of the cars and choices available.

What better opportunity is there for retailers to start that contact than the need to discuss the ending of the finance term taken out three years ago and an MOT reminder. So why do those well placed to know say some of them still aren’t.

John Swift

Editor

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