Mark Colyer, Allianz Auto State Manager (VIC, SA) says long wait times are detrimental to the dealership sales process, including arranging finance and insurance.
“Getting finance approval at point-of-sale and then having to get it reapproved near delivery time creates double handling,” he says. “A customer’s situation can change during the waiting period, which may affect the original finance approval. Insurance premiums can also go up between the point-of-sale and delivery, which creates a poor customer experience.”
There’s also the issue that if insurance isn’t presented at the point-of-sale, customers may choose to arrange their insurance prior to the dealer contacting them to arrange delivery. And re-engaging with a customer close to delivery time within the anti-hawking legislation can present a problem.
“Quite often, the customer is only engaged face-to-face on the day they pick up their vehicle, which is too late,” Colyer says.
So, what are dealerships doing to manage customer expectations? Many dealerships attempt to move customers to a more readily available car model. In the case of multi-franchise dealerships, that might involve moving customers to a different make of vehicle.
It appears that the majority of customers are happy enough to wait to receive their car. In such cases, sales teams and delivery coordinators keep customers informed of their order's progress, often by providing them with regular updates via email and text.
Colyer says some motor dealerships are taking the step of refunding customers their deposit or giving them a guaranteed trade-in valuation.
“Dealers are trying to absorb any finance rate or premium changes at delivery time,” he says. “If this is not possible, they are back to the start and have to win the customers’ business with new pricing.”
Though society at large has learned to live with COVID-19, it seems the car sector will have to live with the effects of the pandemic for some time yet.