January’s already proving tougher than expected

The one upside of a downturn (see what I’ve done there?) is that the roads are less busy; well that’s the theory anyway. However I really have noticed in my journeys up and down this green and pleasant land that most of my hold ups seem to be for accidents rather than pure congestion and although I generally get to where I’m going to on time at present I would really rather not and that the roads were as busy as they used to be and that the M1 and M25 were chock-a-block morning, noon and night! At least that way I would know that business was brisk and the car trade was in good shape, well that’s my theory anyway and I’m sticking to it.

With 2 more major high street retailers recently stating that they were going in to administration everybody is bracing themselves for a really tough year, which in actual fact – according to many dealers we speak to – has already proved tougher than we hoped.

One told us that they were certainly seeing some customers and “sort of” selling cars but that considering January is traditionally one of the busiest months of the year, making Q1 budget is already starting to look unlikely.

Whilst in the motor trade we are generally the eternal optimists it is still worth mixing that glass half full mentality with a healthy dose of realism.

Working hard and giving potential buyers what they want in terms of an experience will hold the key to success in many showrooms but having engaged, determined staff will ultimately separate the men from the boys.

Another dealer told us that this year he plans to count his success not necessarily in how many cars he sells or fixes but how his business maximises each opportunity they get. He aims to do this by “being better than the rest” and as result making each transaction more profitable as a result. Which sounds great on paper but put another way he is being realistic and accepting that the market has shrunk but he still expects his unfair share of it due to how he plans to ensure that no potential visitor to his business will leave with anyone guessing what “might have been” if they had done things better.

Indeed we plan at MTI to get a few of our ‘people’ to visit dealers around the country to see just how the talk stands up and if dealers really are making a supreme effort or just paying it lip service. We would like to highlight the good ones and promote them and encourage the bad ones to get their act together. We plan to do this by observing how all staff from the first point of contact to the last wave goodbye can influence the buying decision by the service they offer. So watch this space and let’s hope we can relate some really positive stories in the coming months.

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