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Getting ready to reopen your business to the public

As restrictions begin to ease with the reopening of dealerships across the UK, now is the time to plan to get your business back to normal as much as possible, while ensuring your premises are safe for your staff and customers to re-enter. 

We know you’ll be keen to start selling more vehicles, so we’ve also included some suggestions about how to get stock moving as quickly as possible, as well as how to keep your staff and customers safe.

1. Your premises

  • While it’s unlikely the COVID-19 virus has remained on any surfaces for the latest lockdown period, it might be worth taking extra time and care by using anti-viral cleaning products to ensure yours and your customers’ safety. You may also wish to hire a professional cleaning service for extra peace of mind. Areas such as computers, telephones, kitchen areas and bathrooms should be given extra attention. 
  • You need to make sure you have a full health and safety written assessment to ensure your business is COVID-19-secure. All dealerships will have to complete an online HSE inspection to prove that they're safe to reopen and they may face random spot checks in the future to ensure they're continuing to comply. Using the HSE’s online tools, you'll need to display a certificate that confirms the business has complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. You can find the certificate here.
  • It’s important to deep clean and disinfect any vehicles on your forecourt, especially places where hands and skin may touch, for example the steering wheel, handlebars, buttons, dials, and handles. It might be worth documenting the date and time the vehicle was sanitised, to give customers extra reassurance.

2. Your online forecourt

  • Customers may be wary of entering premises after restrictions are lifted, so by promoting your efforts of keeping the stock and showroom clean online, you may be able to offer some peace of mind and reassure customers it’s safe to visit. Use social media and your website to promote these new practises and tell customers you’re open for business. 
  • Ensure all your third-party site subscriptions are up to date and look to take advantage of any offers to support your restart.
  • Refresh your vehicle images. Some may have been on the forecourt for a few months, and buyers will remember. Take time to have a freshen up of the imagery and supporting text.
  • Consider using video calls, or pre-recorded video tours of vehicles for customers who may not wish to enter the showroom until further into their buying journey. 

3. Your staff

  • Take some time to consider whether all of your workforce need to be back in the dealership from day one of reopening. It might be worth keeping some staff working from home to help maintain social distancing in the dealership. If any staff are to remain away from the premises, ensure you keep them engaged with how the business is doing, and communicate your plans for them to return to the workplace. You could consider changing staff’s work patterns or working hours to minimise the amount of people on the premises at one time. 
  • Over the last year, have you changed anything to be more phone or online based, and can it continue to be done this way? For example, sending videos of the stock you have to minimise the number of customers visiting the premises initially, or dealing with customer enquiries by phone or email. 
  • If customers must come into the dealership, why not create an appointment booking system to limit the amount of people in the showroom at any one time? 
  • When inviting staff back into the dealership to work, make sure that distance is maintained between them. Where possible, ensure desks are a little further apart to create extra room and help stop the spread of any viruses. Encourage them to avoid sharing pens, cutlery, notepads, and other items, such as mice that come into contact with their hand. The same applies for customers too – offer each one a new pen for example or use disposable cups to avoid the risk of possible infection. 

4. Your stock

  • It might be tempting to rush out and buy new stock to attract customers back to your dealership for reopening, but COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our economy and the way you work moving forward. For example, is there more demand for vehicles that are low cost to run, or larger vans to support delivery drivers that will be under pressure? We can support you with local, data-driven insight. 
  • Now might be the time to speak to your Close Brothers Motor Finance Account Manager about a stock funding plan to ensure you can get the right stock for your dealership, at the right time, to take advantage of any increase in demand. 
  • Decide in advance what your stance is on price, and offers on particular vehicles, and ensure the sales team are fully briefed.
  • The Government have issued guidance around retail businesses, including motor dealerships, in terms of how you can continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of you staff and customers. To view this guidance, please click here.

For further information or support, please contact your Account Manager in the first instance by phone or email.