Independent used car dealers are starting to improve their customer proposition to meet increasing level of competition from franchise dealers and car supermarkets, says RAC Warranty.
The company says that smaller retailers are being squeezed by larger competitors who are increasingly moving into older car sales and aftersales activity as a result of ongoing, difficult economic conditions.
Sales and marketing director at RAC Warranty, Ian Simpson, explained: “This is something that we are seeing more and more. A few years ago, you would see few cars more than three years old at a franchise dealer or more than five at a car supermarket. Now, you might see customers with cars up to five or six years old being actively courted by franchise dealers and car supermarkets retailing vehicles up to seven or even eight years old.
“This means that independent used car retailers are being increasingly squeezed and, while they have several strengths that have genuine appeal to customers and can compete very successfully, there are also areas where some recognise that they must raise their game in order to compete.”
Simpson added that the advantages of independents tended to lie in their strong ties to the local community, keen pricing and high levels of customer service. However, the sales proposition was often not as comprehensive as those from franchises or supermarkets.
He said: “A franchise dealer may automatically put a one year warranty on every car they retail and a car supermarket offer six months, irrespective of age. Also, these operations tend to be much more switched on when it comes to extended warranties and service plans.
“For customers buying older cars, these factors bring a high level of reassurance that they will not be facing unexpected motoring bills. We are increasingly advising independent used car dealers on how to match these propositions in a professional and cost effective manner.”