I was asked to write a column based on different customer
segments and how to sell to them, which took me right back to the
Motor Finance Europe Conference held in London last
I was asked to do a bit, voice of
the dealer, that sort of thing, and for those who have had contact
with him, how can you say “no” to Brian Rogerson?
So I sat through some lovely people
with their fabulously clinical outlook on the European and UK
markets; great slides, PowerPoint presentations, and well-delivered
speeches. But they were all slightly missing the one key point
relating to motor finance, and the way it is interwoven with the
success or otherwise of the retail marketplace.
The panel was asked what impact the
‘drying up’ of motor finance liquidity and providers would have on
the retail landscape, and one by one my co-panellists delivered
professional responses which somewhat skirted what I see as the
real issue – then it was my turn.
I apologised to Brian and
responded: “We will suffocate. Funders will be fewer, liquidity
will reduce in the funders remaining, all will be risk-averse, and
we will begin to lose massive numbers of people with
difficult-to-replace experience and skill-sets”
Blimey, I was right!
Dealer groups and their management
teams spend hours agonising over how to improve sales and
profitability, wringing their hands over the issue of getting as
many customers into the traditional sales funnel, well knowing the
funnel is only as effective as the sales people on the ground.
But what about the new sector of
customers, those deposed from work and setting up on their own? The
raft of self-employed sole traders, business proprietors and
entrepreneurs needing guidance? What about those already in
business and looking for advice on how to fund vehicle acquisition?
Or those who just can’t get funding via their normal routes?
Brokers have always been a great
source of skills, connections and networks of funders, but as I
predicted at the conference in March 2009, not so much now. We have
haemorrhaged many good people from our broker network, and I am
sorry to say this creates an opportunity for me, as a trainer.
Dealers have a choice: if they want
a slice of this lucrative business pie, they will have to train
their sales teams to be confidently competent when talking to
people in business.
The traditional showroom response of “ask your accountant” is a
wasted profit opportunity, and in this market there is no
justification for waste.