What Can You Expect When Car Showrooms Re Open To Viewings and Test Drives
April the 12th should be the day when in England dealerships and highstreet retail businesses and those classed as non essential businesses welcome people back through their doors. So far during 2021 all non essential businesses have been closed to people visiting unless for click and collect or click and deliver. This day is the day lots of businesses and customers have been looking forward to and will undoubtably be a great tonic for both retailers and clients alike.
For car retailers it will mean bringing back staff who have been furloughed to handle the expected increase in enquiries and therefore sales. For many retailers the last twelve months have seen their online offering increase to provide a welcomed income stream. Retailers who embraced the digital route have greatly benefited from offering a digital journey. Here at Cheshire cars we have offered for 10 years Free UK Delivery, online video reviews and online finance plus part exchange joining the delivery and the video review offerings, allowing clients a safe and reliable method of securing their vehicles. Embracing online reviews a decade ago now has also helped potential buyers have the confidence to proceed with the purchase. So will buyers now go back to the original ways of buying their next car?
Buying Seen or Unseen
From April the 12th car dealerships can welcome people who may not have been comfortable to buy a vehicle unseen back into the business. People can browse and take a test drive much the same way as they have done before the COVID-19 restrictions. I expect most dealers will have arranged with their insurers to have in place a specific insurance cover for allowing potential buyers the chance to test drive the car on trade plates alone. This will further help people to feel safe and secure when considering a potential vehicle. Forming an important 'link' in the journey chain to securing the right vehicle for the buyer. Of course all COVID-19 safety procedures will be in place so although vists to dealers will be allowed I expect most dealers to operate whenever and wherever possible an appointment viewing. If you simply turn up you may have to wait longer to be seen, you would be advised to book ahead. Dealerships are expected to be extremely busy for most of the summer months. After staying closed for the March plate change, the expectation is that April and May will be the March of 2021.
With the re-opening being viewed as good news there are many people who have had many positive experiences buying online unseen. They have the confidence to buy unseen and are unlikely to return anytime soon. So it makes sense for retailers to still keep the procedures operating to cater for this section of buyers. Indeed here at Cheshire cars some months online sales made up 70% of sales in a month pre COVID-19. If a dealer has embraced online video reviews and online client reviews plus online reserve together with online finance and exchange then they can still expect a high percentage of online unseen sales.
Do Showrooms Have A Future
Certainly the retail landscape has rapidly changed these last twelve months. However I fully expect to see traditional showrooms still having an important role to play albeit a slightly less busy one with fewer vists over time and therefore those dealers who can offer both a seamless physical and online sales channel benefiting the most. Dealers who demonstrate empathy to their clients requirements will undoubtably stand to gain the most going forwards.
David Bilsborough is the business owner of Crewe based used car retailer, Cheshire cars.