Grovehurst Cars Ltd is a used-car specialist supermarket, based in Sittingbourne, that stocks over 150 cars. Like all of Oodle’s dealer partners, they take absolute pride in their bid to provide the best customer service possible, and in this interview with Darren Caddell, Grovehurst Cars’ long-serving Sales Manager, he talks about why the digital revolution is not all good news, how their dealership has evolved, and why not all customers are sold on electric vehicles…
What does the future for car dealerships hold?
It’s definitely shifting online and becoming more and more like online shopping. Maybe not for a few years yet, but it’s definitely happening.
Does the gradual move online concern you? If so, why?
It does a little because our job is very much face-to-face. That personal interaction with customers is what separates us from other industries. In the future you may never get to speak to the person whose buying the car. They can just order it online from their armchair, pay or get finance on it and get it delivered to their house – they don’t even have to get up!
A lot of people don’t realise that it isn’t like buying a loaf of bread from Tesco. Take test-driving, for instance. Everyone is different and will have tiny things they like or dislike about their drive. The digital shift might compromise on customer satisfaction because if there is no interaction they might end up with a car that wasn’t as advertised online or what they had in mind when they bought it. A showroom or dealership forecourt brings a measure of quality control to the transaction.
The biggest concern for me as a salesman is losing the opportunity to speak to my customers face to face.
In what ways has your dealership evolved in the last few years? What’s the biggest change you have noticed?
The information our customers have read up on – some good, some bad. Online market prices mean that people make a lot of snap decisions based on price, and often not in full possession of all the facts. It’s become very price driven.
Customers will read a lot online and because there is so much information it’s hard to workout where you stand sometimes. It’s the equivalent of self-diagnosis online. There’s a lot of contradictory information out there and it’s our job to cut through the noise.
Is the introduction of autonomous and electric vehicles a challenge or an opportunity for the UK car dealing community?
Most often they’ve been sat on our forecourt and we end up selling them back for what we bought them for. Customers are concerned about the batteries – imagine having to drive to Scotland, it would take weeks! The technology might be out there, but we aren’t dealing Teslas just yet!
I think we will see more demand when the technology becomes more affordable. We’re beginning to see more electric chargers but we still need more to drive demand. Personally I don’t like the fact that you can’t hear if the car is on or not!
Is the uncertainty over Brexit having an impact on your forecourt footfall?
I don’t think I’ve seen the impact yet. So far, we’ve seen a slight price increase on new cars which has pushed their sales down. Our sales have stayed the same, so I don’t think the used-car market has been affected anything like the new car market has. It really feels too early to say.
What do you look for from an automotive finance provider?
Speed. I want quick answers if it’s a yes or no because I’ll be sat with a customer; telling them that it might be up to half an hour to underwrite something is a long time to be kept waiting. Speed with payouts as well, once I’ve sent all the paperwork. It’s all about the most efficient process for the customer.
In what ways does Oodle support you?
Having been with Oodle from the start, we’ve built up a good rapport. I get on really well with with the sales team – we talk about football and all sorts before we get on to payouts, and that’s a nice personal touch. That makes me feel like you’re in my corner, and I hope vice versa. I like Oodle as a finance company, you do great rates for finance. As a young company, it seems like every couple of months you’re improving. Since we’ve been with you, your system has got better and better.
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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are that of the individual who has been interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Oodle Car Finance*. . The content of the blog is not intended to cause any offence to any individual or organisation. We make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability or validity of any information contained within this blog and we will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.