Behind the scenes during the pandemic, Aston Barclay has been working expansively with the motor finance sector. Motor Finance catches up with managing director – customer, Martin Potter, to discuss the work being done by the company.

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, companies in the industry were faced with the immediate need to digitalise their process or risk losing business. Fortunately for Aston Barclay, the firm had started its digital journey a few years previous, so had a strong foundation on which to tweak and enhance when the first lockdown was announced.

As the pandemic progressed, Aston Barclay developed bespoke remarketing strategies for individual clients.

“As a remarketing business, we’re no longer just a straightforward collect your car, give it a clean and put it in an auction proposition,” says Potter. “We’re doing a great deal more in the facilitation of various processes in order to get the right vehicles into the right channels for our particular customers.”

For one finance house partner, that meant the launch of a fully-closed white label timed auction platform. Supplying dealers will have 24 hours exclusive access to be able to purchase the vehicle, before the auction cascades automatically to a 48-72 hour window for their franchised dealer network, before going to an open market if the car hasn’t sold.

“We have digitised the whole process for them, which previously had several manual functions and took a lot of time to get from termination to encashment,” says Potter. “It has significantly reduced the days to sell and has ticked a lot of boxes in terms of repatriating back to their own network.

“It also ensures that they are getting new finance paper on that used retail vehicle because the finance house is associated with that network. If it was to go to open market, they would have potentially lost some of that control, or it could have been done on whatever finance agreement the dealership was using.”

For a different finance house customer, Aston Barclay created a similar closed-group digital platform to help them meet contractual obligations for a white label finance agreement with a manufacturer. The platform enables vehicles to be offered exclusively to a particular company over a 48-hour period, with all of the vehicle images and appraisals downloaded so the car stays where it is.

By digitising the whole process for the clients, the time taken from termination to encashment has been significantly reduced. The process can be replicated and adapted to meet the unique needs of different customers, with Aston Barclay able to produce a fully functioning platform within two weeks.

One leasing company working with Aston Barclay has an online platform for customers taking out new PCP or lease deals. When the company gets to early termination or late-and-low products, Aston Barclay will appraise the vehicle once it lands, doing the necessary refurbishments to get it back to a retail standard, complete 360 imagery and send a digital package back to the provider.

That car can then be retailed on the leasing company’s site as a used lease and delivered to the customer by Aston Barclay.

More than an auction company

With the market being the way it is at the moment, Potter explains that franchised dealers are desperate for stock. In the past, franchised dealers’ sourcing and purchasing regime would have been narrow on the basis that it would have come from either manufacturer or manufacturer-associated sales. During a time when the market is short of stock, the closed auctions have provided those franchised dealers with an avenue for sourcing metal.

Potter concludes: “All of this highlights how nimble and fast we are at bringing those products to market. People probably look at Aston Barclay as an auction company, but we are actually a lot more than that.

“We have got the capability and the technology to be able to move both our vending customers and assist our buying customers to a more digital environment. In the past, finance vendors were quite traditional but that has changed in the last 18 months – that’s exciting for them and exciting for the market.”