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Car dealers guided on safe restarts as ‘click & collect’ greenlighted

Car and van dealers have been provided with new guidance on ensuring a safe customer experience as the industry continues calls for showrooms to reopen.

The guidance provides dealers with comprehensive safety measures covering showroom interactions, vehicle demos and test-drives

Published as the Government confirms that dealers will not be allowed to open showrooms until 1 June at the earliest but can offer a ‘click and collect’ service, the document has been published by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The guidance from the two trade bodies covers the entire customer experience, from booking appointments to showroom interactions, test drives, click & collect, part exchanges and aftersales, and includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation and protective personal equipment (PPE).

With latest SMMT data showing the new car market fell 97.3% in April, the industry says showrooms should be re-opened as a matter of urgency to help drive customer demand.

Latest research also indicates that as well as more active travel, there will be increased car usage in the coming weeks, not just due to limitations on public transport, but also to avoid any pandemic risks; research carried out by campaign group Transport Focus has found three in five people (60%) have said they will drive more rather than use public transport once travel restrictions are relaxed.

Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said: “People need cars to get back to work. Often, getting work done requires the use of a vehicle. It is positive that the automotive industry is working together to resume business as soon as possible in line with the Government’s guidelines.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said it was time to allow showrooms to re-open their doors, while welcoming today’s clarification that automotive retailers can now operate contactless ‘click and collect’ services from outside their premises.

He added: “There is pent-up demand in the market, and the sector is committed to ensuring a safe environment for staff and customers as the country gets back to work. Re-opening car showrooms is now a crucial next step in rebooting the wider industry, helping to support the UK’s economic recovery.”

Car buying comparison site carwow.co.uk has also highlighted growing demand for cars as it welcomed the news that car dealers have been given the green light to offer click and collect.

CEO James Hind said: “There is a rising demand for cars, particularly now in light of the need to return to work but remain socially distanced and the Government’s directive to avoid public transport where possible, and also with the opportunity to now travel by car for leisure.

“Indeed, our own data shows a significant increase week on week of consumers looking to buy a new car on Carwow, with activity levels close to what we’d have expected in a normal May.

“Many dealerships have been working hard getting ready for click and collect and are taking every safety precaution to ensure a safe handover that buyers can feel comfortable with. And for those consumers who don’t wish to go to the showroom to collect, the majority of dealers are offering home delivery now as well.”

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.