Automotive insights: customer retention key to reversing the decline in sales

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Things don’t stand still in the automotive world for long. That’s why, a year on from the Automotive Insights study, from HPS Group, it has decided to take another look and assess the current state of the UK automotive market.

Private registrations

The UK new car market declined by 5.7% in 2017, and 2018 is appearing to be following suit, against a backdrop of Brexit-related economic uncertainty and likely interest rate rises.

This latter point is relevant as 86% of all cars are now bought on credit. Total car loans in the UK now amount to nearly £60bn.

Another factor thought to be relevant is a significant decrease in the volume of PPI claims being processed. It’s thought that many of the 13 million people who have received these payouts spent their unexpected windfall on new cars. And, of course, there is the confusion around ‘dieselgate’. Year-on-year diesel sales are down 25%-30%.

But, fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Our recent research into new car purchasing told us that 9 out of 10 customers are continuing their plans to purchase as normal. In fact, as you are reading this, 6% of adults are currently in market to buy a car, that is over 2.3 million people.

How can you exploit the opportunity?

Based on the findings of our research, dealers should take the following three steps:

First, fix the leaky enquiry bucket. Despite manufacturers struggling with sales, it is crazy to think up to 40% of enquiries are currently not being handled properly.

Secondly, look at current customers and turn them into advocates. In these times a friend or family recommendation will go a long way.

Finally, a staggering 85% of customers aren’t happy with the car they buy. Customer qualification should be front and centre in your lead management process.

Our latest Automotive Insights research established that there is still plenty of opportunity out there if you know where to look.

For further insights, download the full HPS Automotive Insights report for free.

Dan Pitt is associate director and all-round petrolhead at HPS Group