By Alex Griffin, Director of Product at Close Brothers Motor Finance.
Keeping up with today’s dynamic, complex, and fast paced automotive industry is essential for dealers, holding the key to success. Having a clear understanding of the market and the products available to meet the needs of customers is hugely important but can also prove to be a challenge.
That’s where Forecourt Insight comes in to help, a powerful dashboard Close Brothers Motor Finance launched in 2021, driven by the need to adapt to the evolving automotive industry and provide our dealer partners with the best tools and services for success. But what exactly is Forecourt Insight? I’ve set some time to sit down and answer some common questions I’m often asked.
1. What is Forecourt Insight?
Firstly, Forecourt Insight is a powerful feature within our Insights proposition, designed to provide comprehensive visibility into a dealerships' forecourt activities. Having partnered with Auto Trader, the UK's largest used car digital marketplace and data provider, we have access to valuable insights on areas such as vehicle desirability, pricing to market and advert performance on Auto Trader.
As a trusted finance provider, we launched Forecourt Insight as a dashboard offered to our partners’ account managers, providing them with data and market insight as well as the ability to develop tailored plans. By pinpointing areas for improvement, dealerships can make more informed decisions, ultimately resulting in them optimising their vehicle pricing, maximising every opportunity, and driving higher sales.
2. Who do you offer Forecourt Insight to and what do your customers say about it?
Forecourt Insight is exclusively available to our funded partners and since its launch the feedback we have received has been notably positive, emphasising the value and beneficial impact the product has had on partners.
Dealerships have witnessed significant benefits, such as faster vehicle sales by adjusting pricing strategies based on market insights. According to our internal data, dealerships using Forecourt Insight experienced a 15% increase in sales velocity within the first three months of implementation. Additionally, Forecourt Insight helps dealerships understand the financial implications of holding onto vehicles for too long, enabling them to optimise their inventory and invest in more profitable assets.
Mohammed Usman, Director, Cars4You. “I started with 3 cars and now we have 500 over three branches. There are many challenges in the industry, including sourcing stock. But more importantly pricing. You have to get the pricing right. My account manager from Close Brothers showed me a new data tool which was really helpful in sourcing and pricing stock. On the sourcing side it shows us the desirability of cars in our areas, and on the pricing side it gives us up to date data which helps us to price cars. The tool has started to help us already. I had had a BMW in stock for 100 days; I adjusted the prices and sold it in 5 days. The tool will help us in the future as we are a growing business. We believe this will be critical in our future success.”
The success of the product has been recognised through industry awards for product innovation. Last October, for example, we were announced as winner of the Product of the Year award at the Car Dealer Power awards 2022 for our Forecourt Insight Data tool.
3. Looking at your recent Forecourt Insight data, what in your opinion are the most interesting market trends?
The most notable thing is how our partners are trying to adapt to the market around them. Rather interestingly, we have seen more partners buying stock outside of their normal profile just to maintain a fully stocked forecourt. This trend that has likely emerged as a result of stocking issues the motor industry has faced in recent years. Our data shows that 65% of dealerships have diversified their inventory to include a broader range of vehicle makes and models, resulting in a 20% increase in overall sales volume.
4. The past couple of years have been tough for dealers, with many hurdles and various challenges. What can we already pinpoint as factors likely to guide and impact car dealers over the next months?
Looking ahead, one of the significant factors that will shape the automotive industry is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding electric vehicles (EVs). According to industry forecasts, EV sales are projected to grow by 40% annually over the next five years. Dealerships must closely monitor market shifts and consumer preferences to capitalise on this emerging trend.
This is a challenge which Forecourt Insight can help with. Having as much insight and knowledge as possible will help dealers transition to an increasing inventory of EVs. By analysing EV pricing, consumer demand and product suitability and availability, dealerships can adjust their stock accordingly to maximise returns in the EV market. The UK’s transition to EVs will feel overwhelming and complex for some, but as partners, Close Brothers Motor Finance is with our customers every step of the way and keen to utilise our data, powered by Auto Trader, to best help.