29th September 2018
By Chris Saunders
August is typically a slow month for new car registrations, but the release of the latest SMMT figures, we can see that the number of new cars registered last month was 94,094 – a hefty 23.1% rise on the same month last year. Good news for dealerships.
Digging further into the figures, we can see that the rise is due in no small part to the surge in demand for hybrid and plug-in cars, which has gone up 88.7% on 2017. One in 12 buyers have gone electric – a new record. Purchases were up amongst private buyers, fleets and small businesses alike, with the smaller business sector rising by an impressive 166.4% compared to the year before.
Nevertheless, the overall new car market for the year to date remains down by 4.2% compared to 2017, thanks to a turbulent first eight months. In short, whilst there is plenty of dynamism in the new car market – and plenty of opportunities for dealerships to take advantage of emerging trends – it remains an unpredictable and tempestuous landscape. As ever, automotive dealerships need to be proactive and take a long-term approach to their sales process.
That is, focusing purely on the numbers of new car registrations your dealership can rack up each month is a recipe for being buffeted by the broader peaks and troughs of the new vehicle marketplace. Far better to think of each new registration as the starting off point for dozens or even hundreds of additional revenue-generating interactions, smoothing out that unpredictability and helping you better weather the storms of the wider market.
How to think long-term
Across all three of those buying channels – private buyers, fleets and small business – dealerships can add a huge amount of value with a long-term aftersales service. From carrying out standard tests and checks, to undertaking proactive upgrades and alterations, to delivering responsive repair and replacement work, aftersales care can extend a relationship with a new car owner for many years.
However, there’s a huge difference between merely offering these services as a vague ‘shopping list’ and actually tailoring them to the needs of the buyers in question. Individual, private buyers have different needs to small business and fleet owners. Whilst flexibility and consideration for the customer’s own working hours, commitments and vehicle needs is always key, these are extremely variable.
This, then, is where aftersales software comes in, enabling you to clearly and automatically categorise aftersales work, and translate vehicle issues into clearly ranks and filtered groups so that owners can get an instant, top-level picture of the health of their vehicle. The smoother and clearer the aftersales process can be made for each individual customer, the longer and more fruitful that aftersales process is likely to be – on both sides. And in turn, this means that even a poorer month for new vehicle registrations can stretch into a much longer revenue-building relationship.
August’s statistics certainly look positive for automotive dealerships. But forward-thinking business owners should never be satisfied with a single month of strong figures – they should consider how those figures can be extended into the future.