Boss of Chesterfield car dealership firm admits Covid-19 lockdown restrictions benefited business
The boss of a Chesterfield car dealership firm has admitted that while Covid-19 lockdown restrictions reduced enquiries, the measures were “advantageous” in sourcing genuine interest for vehicles.
Eldon Stevens who runs Barnfield Cars on Matlock Road in Walton, confirmed that the temporary virus measures which prevented client viewings and banned test drives, actually helped to benefit the business.
The dealership specialises in prestige sports car and 4x4 vehicles and the boss said the lockdown restrictions made it easier to identify potential buyers with a “genuine interest”.
Eldon, 52, explained how the initial impact of the lockdown announcement in March last year affected the business.
He said: “Everyone closed for those first few weeks.
"But the small independent dealers were much more agile.
“We and others like us proved to be far more resilient to change than the big groups.
"We were quickly able to implement the appropriate safety measures, enabling us to reopen more or less straight away.
“We had to put sanitation in place, set up digital documents transfer and virtual tours for the click-and-collect service.
“For the firms with 150-plus dealerships nationwide to do the same it could take months.”
The 52-year-old shared how the additional restrictions actually promoted more genuine enquiries from buyers.
“We soon found the new system was much smoother for both buyer and seller”, Eldon added.
“Showings and test drives were banned of course.
"It meant people had to do their own research.
"People also had a lot more time on their hands to look for what they needed.
“This meant enquiries were almost always founded on genuine interest.
"We saw a lot less ‘tyre kicking’.
“The only downside of the new system is some cases of people abusing the 14-day guarantee.
“I’ve heard of people ‘buying’ a Porsche 911 on a Friday before returning it the following Monday.
"Thankfully this has been a rare occurrence.”
On the widely-reported surge in used car values, the business owner commented: “Independently of Covid, a shortage of semiconductors has limited the production of new vehicles.
“This means for used car sellers there are often three buyers showing solid interest in a given vehicle.
“The way the market has gone, private sellers need to make sure they’re on the first page of results on search platforms such as AutoTrader.
"It’s very competitive.”