Before I start I'd like to thank all the people who contacted me after my recent article about my car buying experiences.
I was trying to think about what to write in this final blog for 2012 and somebody suggested I provide some observations regarding things we at JGA feel perhaps need to change to help people and businesses into 2013.
This year has been a crazy time both within the Motor Industry and the world in general. We have seen all kinds of weather, the Queens Jubilee, the Olympics, an economic meltdown across the European Euro zone, the money lending market not lending and to cap it all according to the Mayan faith the end of the world is about to happen – TODAY! No doubt the DFS Sale will survive!
But what of the Motor Industry? Well after a poor start to the year its actually been a success story, vehicle manufacturers have invested, manufacturing in the UK is up a lot, we have more new models and face-lifted versions than in any time in the last 20 years, cars are better equipped, more economical and better build than at any time in history. The retail network has seen increased new car sales for the last 7 months in a row and private buyers are coming back into the market in reasonable numbers. The motor industry is in fact leading the economic recovery, the retail market is the strongest in Europe currently and the manufacturing base is stronger and larger than at any time since the mid-80’s. This of course puts everybody in a good place for 2013.
In my mind there are two key areas that if improved could make a world of difference for not much money. These are the internet and staff.
The internet is a powerful tool and I don't think most dealerships are using it to its full potential. We completed a bit of a survey back in the middle of the year and of 6 dealerships that were contacted by email not 1 of them came back to me in a professional way and 3 didn't reply at all. Of the 3 that did reply all but 1 were poorly written or written like I was their 'mate' on Facebook, not focused and didn't give me any options to purchase.
Take a look outside of the industry, the world has moved on, not only is replying to emails to a professional level and quickly a minimum expectation from customers but most companies display their products correctly on line, allow the customer different ways of buying and most web-sites now allow the customer to transact 100% online if they wish (it can be done as we know of a company that sold 1,200 used cars a month totally on-line).
Nearly 75% of all customer do research on-line before entering a showroom these days and that figure will only rise, the internet is today more important than a shiny posh showroom, as most people see your web-site before they visit so that's their first impression. 11% of all retail sales are now conducted on-line!
We then move to staff. As we have previously mentioned staff are under trained, too few in most areas, over worked and in many cases under motivated. Now I understand why that's the case and I know many, many Managers who have really had it tough for the last 3-4 years so it’s difficult to just keep going in many cases so I have some sympathies. But frankly the customer isn't interested in your problems they are just interested in having a good experience and my comments last month highlighted that.
That's enough of my ramblings for one year, 2013 could be a very positive year, the things I've said above may sound a bit harsh and of course are not a exhaustive list of things that it needs to run a successful business but I think they are important and easy, if we just open our eyes and observe.
Please feel free to disagree with me, I've only written these comments because I do think the Motor Industry is a great place to be and work in and it has a great future but we could all be better at what we do.
On that note I'll wish you a very Happy Christmas and