Vospers Chairman, Peter Vosper, offers advice to those looking to buy a car
Hello, Peter Vosper here. As I write about the last seven months, news comes through about a new lockdown period, so firstly I wanted to let you know how Vospers are going to get you on the road and keep you there safely.
Although our sales showrooms and outside display areas will not be open to the public, our sales teams will continue to support all customers with new and existing orders. Customers that have placed orders for November will be contacted with any updates and to make arrangements to suit you. Customers will be able to request a virtual appointment and request videos of vehicles of interest. Customers will also have the ability to reserve and buy online with the choice to have a COVID-safe click & collect experience, or a COVID-safe home delivery. All of our teams are available to assist you with any questions or queries via live chat, telephone, email, or website enquiry. Do not hesitate to get in touch.
Our Service and Aftersales departments will operate as normal, thanks to our well-established COVID-safe working practices that have been in place for several months. If you have a Service or MOT appointment booked from Thursday 5th November – Wednesday 2nd December please assume that it is going ahead as planned - should you wish to make changes to your booked appointment please get in touch. To request a new booking please click here. All of our teams are available to assist you with any questions or queries via live chat, telephone, email, or website enquiry. Do not hesitate to get in touch. We look forward to providing you with a safe and welcoming experience.
Looking back at the last seven months, here are some of my thoughts on the automotive industry, Vospers, and what that means for potential vehicle buyers like you. I hope you find it both interesting and helpful with any decisions you may be considering in the coming weeks or months.
It is well publicised that the automotive industry has been struggling in terms of sales volumes vs targets and that does lead to opportunity for customers.
Without question Vospers has had the most challenging six months of our history. In March as a result of the start of lockdown we recorded our worst March result since the Ford strike in 1971. This was followed by record losses in May and June in spite of Government support through various measures including the furlough scheme. Our Servicing operations remained open for essential workers throughout lockdown across Exeter, Plymouth, and Truro. We are pleased to have supported a number of health professionals, the Ambulance service, and many other types of vehicles and drivers who all played a key role during lockdown, needing to be kept on the road at a critical time for all.
Our diligent Board of Directors worked tirelessly during lockdown to ensure the survival of Vospers; working hard to reduce costs in all areas, other than people, to mitigate the financial damage lockdown was having on the business.
Fortunately at Vospers we were already ahead of many others in the industry, in our development of major hubs and the reduction of a number of outlets throughout Devon and Cornwall. Manufacturers had been slow to acknowledge the necessity to allow this to happen with larger areas such as Torbay and St Austell able to provide service facilities with lower costs.
Having reduced costs we then had to incur them as major preparations to more than meet Government safety requirements were introduced prior to our reopening in June. We introduced visual instructions, floor markings, desk screens, shields, masks, and sanitisation units which clean both vehicles and premises. Our showroom and office layouts were adapted to provide one way systems and automatic hand gel distribution points and new improved standards of cleaning were introduced. We quickly adopted remote working which required significant reorganisation of technology and workflows but was essential to ensure where possible we minimised employee and customer risk. Timed appointments were encouraged to have less people in our showrooms to help with physical distancing. New training was put in place prior to the staff returning to work to ensure we were more than ready.
Although we have the facility for customers to purchase used vehicles online, and indeed have sold record numbers during the lockdown period, the majority of buyers chose to reserve online with a deposit of just £99 and then arrange to have an inspection in person when the lockdown ended. This trend has continued since lockdown with many customers reserving online to ensure they secure a vehicle from sale and then make arrangements to have a Covid safe appointment and test drive. Following our return to work the challenge was to balance the level of employees to the level of demand from customers. Confidence grew as the actions we had taken to protect both our customers and our employees became known and with careful management and fantastic employee commitment we were able to make headway in fulfilling the pent-up demand of both new and used vehicles across our car and commercial vehicle divisions.
In short, Vospers was able to enjoy record results in the third quarter and although we will not recover the losses incurred in full, we are well placed for any further downturn which may occur. There are already concerns of the growing number of cases of the virus and the chance of a further lockdown period. As a result our Board of Directors continues to take actions to prepare for this eventuality, working to ensure Vospers continues to deliver for both our employees and our customers.
Nick Vosper (Managing Director) and I, would like to publicly thank all our teams for their outstanding efforts and commitment. We would also like to thank our customers for their loyalty and forbearance when sometimes it takes a little longer to provide a response, a service, or a solution to meet their needs. Everyone at Vospers is committed to safety. We look forward to helping you with your motoring needs, in person or virtually. For full details on our safety measures please visit Vospers.com/Stay-Safe.
Vospers Motor House Ltd
Marsh Mills | Plymouth | PL6 8AY