In our latest Under the Bonnet interview, our deep dive into our beloved industry, we speak to Raj Javanda from V12 Sports & Classics, the privately owned used-car supermarket and one of the fastest growing independent car supermarkets in the UK. From the industry’s biggest challenges to the autonomous vehicle opportunity, Raj lifts the lid on what the future holds for his dealership…
What are the biggest challengers you’re facing?
Making sure we’re abreast of all the FCA requirements and in line with the new rules around GDPR (General Data Protection). From our own proposition point of view, we need to ensure our cost face remains low, so we can sell cars at the most competitive price possible. We need to ensure we’re on trend when 94-96% are priced at the lowest on the internet or market value. It’s so competitive, pricing is key.
For us to maintain that we need to ensure our cost base remains as low as we can. We’re very mindful that we don’t over-recruit, we don’t bring additional people into the business that are going to cost us a huge amount of money wage wise, unless they are absolutely necessary. We’re very mindful we only recruit where necessary but we also have to be mindful not to under resource ourselves so that the customers can receive the best experience possible.
The challenge comes when customers want to pay with finance, because we need to ensure we have all the right information and suitable lenders that can facilitate a credit line for a customer. We have to be mindful the customer is at the heart of our process, so we have to have a customer centric approach in line with what the FCA require. We cannot just concentrate on customers with an A1 credit and think we’re doing a great job and then deliver a different level of service for customers with a lower credit score. They should all be treated the same.
Does the gradual move online concern you? If so, why?
As long as you recruit the right people in the right places and ensure customers fully understand what they are committing to, moving towards technology can only ever be a good thing. Once you automate systems there’s less room for human error. That means things are done right first time, which gives the customer a much better experience.
In what ways has the move online changed the industry?
Customers are more savvy and they’re able to shop around from the comfort of their own home. Unlike the old days where they’d have to go around three or four different garages and test drive different cars before making a decision. Now, with the added benefit of technology like CitNOW and other video formats, customers can see their own vehicle from a 360 degree point of view. They can understand all the technology the vehicle has and whether it’s suitable for their needs. If the price of the vehicle is right and they know everything the vehicle offers, then the only thing left for a dealer to do is facilitate how to pay for it, whether that be cash or finance. It’s then a case of giving the customer everything they need so they’re legal on the road, fully insured, taxed, and have all the documentation they need to drive away.
What does the future hold for car dealerships?
The future of the motor trade… more and more dealers will look to have smaller offices and staff because more things will be done online. There will be less of a need to have a stunning showroom for people to come and browse. The internet allows customers to ask questions through a portal which is significant. CitNow is a company making strides in showing it’s not just about the sale of the car – they’re encouraging dealers to do video messaging for any part of the service.
From a sales point of view it looks like it’s going to go down a much more automated sales process. If the FCA goes the way I think they will, then customers will be able to choose from a panel of lenders that they want to choose from as opposed to being led by the dealership. The whole process will be a lot more customer centric.
Is the introduction of autonomous and electric vehicles a challenge or an opportunity for the UK car dealing community?
A massive opportunity, but like all opportunities there will be challenges to negotiate along the way. All our vehicles are inspected by the AA and they give you a gold member warranty as standard. If we start selling vehicles with hybrid and electronic technology then we need to ensure that our provider for warranties accommodates this new technology. It’s a big challenge to make sure we’ve got coverage and we’re buying the cars correctly. But it’s definitely an opportunity.
Is the uncertainty over Brexit having an impact on your forecourt footfall?
It isn’t impacting us. We sell just over 1,100 cars a month over three sites. Whenever there is economic uncertainty customers do become mindful about where and how they spend their money. But our vehicle propositions are high-end vehicles, with more than your average mileage, so you sell them at more competitive prices. The quality of the bodywork shows the vehicle is in the best condition it can be.
What is the biggest change you have noticed over the last few years?
Over the past few years we’ve gone from one site to three, with a view to opening a fourth and a fifth. Growth has spiked massively because the proposition we offer is second to none. Being able to sell a car that is less than three years old that has been 100% checked by an AA technician at a very competitive price, is very appealing to people.
What do you look for in a finance provider?
Speed and efficiency. A good spectrum of acceptance, which Oodle has. What Oodle offer that is different, is a personal approach. We can pick up the phone and know who we’re talking to. It’s the same person every time because Oodle provides a dedicated account manager for each dealership.
We look for the lenders’ paperwork to be clear, so we can explain everything to the customer when it comes to the interest and other factors. Having a reduced underwriting queue is key. We can pick up the phone and know what the likelihood of the deal going through is, so if we think from speaking to a lender it’s not looking good, we can tee up a different lender so the customer isn’t tainted by waiting time. When that happens elements of uncertainty creep in. You don’t want a lender dragging their heels.
In what ways does Oodle support you?
It’s always speed of service and a channel of two way communication, which Oodle has with their portal. Oodle don’t want to be affiliated with eight or nine hundred dealers throughout the country – they’d rather have a hundred very good accounts, one of which is us. Both us and Oodle look for a personal touch, which is great. Once you’ve got that it feels less corporate, less red tape and a collaborative spirit; can we do that ‘no’, okay let’s try this, okay that’s worked best for the customer. It lets you move on quickly.
Working with Oodle is great because of the people and the process. The process uses excellent technology; the portal and the assistance that gives us, as a dealer, to get things done quickly and efficiently. There is a clear understanding of the deal that is second to none. The speed and efficiency at Oodle is second to none, and we pass that on to our customers, which ultimately can only help us in this industry. From a people point of view the fact that they are friendly and approachable makes the process far more collaborative. Some corporate lenders always tell you, ‘sorry I need to talk to a manager’, which is never the case with Oodle. If they can do it they will.
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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.