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Rocky road, slumping sales: how dealerships can navigate Brexit uncertainty

Rocky road, slumping sales: how dealerships can navigate Brexit uncertainty

It is no secret that the continuing uncertainty around Britain’s departure from the EU is having an impact on multiple business sectors. Recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that new car registrations slumped by 3.4% in March, to their lowest level in six years. Since March, when registration plates change, is the key month for the industry, the conclusion is that continued Brexit uncertainty is acting as a substantial brake on sales.


Little surprise, then, that the SMMT has called for an end to the uncertainty associated with both politics and the economy around Brexit. However, there looks to be no easy way out.


So, what can dealerships do to help them through this difficult period? If new car registrations are likely to slump until there is a broader political way through the crisis, how can dealerships generate sales from other sources, and navigate as a smooth a path as possible through the rocky road ahead?


One answer is to focus more heavily on vehicle health checks and maintenance. After all, if drivers are more likely to keep driving their existing vehicles, rather than trading them in or upgrading them, then it stands to reason that there is going to be a bigger market for the maintenance and upkeep of older vehicles.


An effective vehicle care and maintenance offering incorporates several elements. First, and fairly obviously, dealerships need to offer a high-quality portfolio of services. autoVHC’s electronic vehicle health check system empowers dealerships to offer truly comprehensive and consistent health checks, guiding staff through a variety of different inspections and providing detailed analytics on the results of each test.


Second, dealerships need to ensure that drivers are actually aware of said health checks and maintenance services, which means a concerted marketing and communications effort. The autoPREDICTIVE module which can be added to our core platform automates email and SMS reminders when any work identified in a previous health check is due, which helps build an ongoing relationship with drivers and develop returning sales.


Third, dealerships need to ensure that their maintenance and aftersales services are tailored precisely to the needs of drivers, and consider the wider political uncertainty which is leading them to halt on new vehicle purchases. Even simple steps like adjusting opening hours in line with drivers’ most likely working hours can increase convenience and gain the edge on competitors. Meanwhile, different pricing structures and the ability to pay for work in stages can help dealerships to offer more flexibility for drivers, and mitigate concerns about paying for expensive work in one go.


The political and economic turmoil engendered by Brexit looks likely to continue for some time yet, and there is little doubt that this will have an impact on the number of new vehicle registrations. But by focusing on helping drivers to optimise and extend the useful lifespans of the vehicles they already possess, dealerships can go some way to smoothing the path ahead.


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