Diverse range of speakers in car sales debate reflect on the changing face of retailing in the UK

28 June 2011 #SMMT News

Presentations from a broad range of speakers debated the changing face of car retailing in the UK, ending with a lively Q&A session at the SMMT International Automotive Summit this afternoon.

First on stage were Neel Desor, Commercial Planning Director at Haymarket Motoring and Rob Ellis, Founding Director of COG Research. Desor and Ellis presented new research into buying behaviour conducted between the two companies, which specifically challenged the traditional funnel model, instead stressing to manufacturers and dealers that they’re never really off the shortlist.

David Vernon, European Practice Manager at Urban Science, was next at the podium. His presentation focused on the changing attitudes to online automotive retail in the UK, comparing marketing spend and lead generation efforts in this country against the situation in the United States. Vernon’s key points related to the methods that dealers are currently using to prioritise leads from both independent and OEM sites, and how he anticipated this changing over the next few years.

The third speaker from the panel was Neil Packham, Sales Director at Manheim Retail Services, who discussed varying approaches to lead management in retailing, analysing in particular the performance of dealers against established benchmarks. One of Packham’s most surprising findings was that some 40% of dealers that they monitored were either using a paper-based system or no system at all when it came to managing and actioning their sales leads.

Antony Sheriff, Managing Director of McLaren Automotive, brought the vehicle manufacturer perspective to the panel debate. Whilst McLaren’s franchised dealer approach has been referred to as traditional, Sheriff’s key point was that this model was by no means incompatible with high value sales. Indeed, his own view was that a good franchised network can tick all the boxes in a way that neither company-owned network, nor an automotive agents’ model can.

Click through for more information, news and photos from the 2011 International Automotive Summit.

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