Buying a car: This is what to expect when visiting car showrooms in Lancashire from next week

Earlier this week the Government announced that car dealerships will be among the first wave of non-essential businesses to reopen from June 1.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 2:56 pm

As with other non-essential businesses there will be the need for social distancing in showrooms.

We spoke to Chapelhouse Motor Group , one of a number of car showrooms in the county set to open on Monday, to see what measures they will have in place from next week.

Q: What procedures have you put in place to ensure staff & customer safety?

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Some of the measures in place at Chapelhouse ahead of next week's reopening.

We have created a list of guidelines for both our staff and customers. We have signage throughout the showrooms and clear guidelines about how to move through our dealerships for both servicing and sales. Every car dealership has also had to complete a full Risk Assessment, and the certificate is clearly displayed in all of our showrooms. The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) have been involved heavily with ensuring that the showrooms can reopen safely and have offered both the industry and the government guidance throughout the lockdown. Safety for everyone in this industry has always been paramount, and we have all been able to adapt to the new guidelines well.

Q: How would a test drive take place now? With a salesperson or without?

A: Due to social distancing rules we can’t have a salesperson within the car during a test drive, and currently we can offer solo test drives, but this will be at the manager's discretion and may not apply to all makes and models due to varying insurance requirements. We are working with our customers to make sure that they can still get the benefits of all the cars by using video messaging or video calls showing them around the cars wherever needed. Cars are held after a test drive until they have been sanitised and no car is offered for viewing or test drives without having been cleaned thoroughly. To ensure the safety of our customers and to limit the possibility of infection we have also locked all cars on our sites so we can be certain that every single car at our showrooms are safe to view every time.

Q: Would I need to make an appointment?

A: We recommend booking online with our sales teams so that we can talk you through as much of the process as possible before coming into the store. We are allocating time slots on a limited basis for customers to ensure we keep showroom numbers to a minimum, and also to ensure our smaller teams can deal with each customer to the best of their ability.

Q: How would I apply for finance? In the showroom or online?

A: We can talk through options with regards to finance both via email and over the phone. We can go through most of the process entirely online, with only the car pickup involving a visit to the showroom.

Q: Is there hand sanitiser?

A: We have our Sanitation Stations at each of our dealerships. These not only include Hand Sanitiser but gloves and masks for customers to use when on any of our premises. We have also installed Perspex screens around the dealership at desks and receptions to ensure we have as much protection as possible in place. This means that signing any paperwork or handing over of keys can be done safely. We have pen sanitation areas and bags for keys as extra measures as well!

Q: Will the showroom be 1 way?

A: While it depends on the layout of our showrooms, we have clearly marked floor signage similar to what you’ve seen in your local supermarkets, and we hope that customers will follow the guidelines as it allows staff to move freely around the showroom without breaking any social distancing rules. For the dealerships with one entry and exit, we ask that customers are aware of their surroundings and make sure that space is given to other customers when entering or exiting the showrooms and aftersales departments.

Q: How many people will be allowed in the showroom at once?

A: We haven’t felt the need to set a limit as such, but the reception staff are asking people to wait outside should there be people already waiting in the aftersales departments. For sales, as we should be working primarily to a schedule of appointments, it most likely wouldn’t be an issue. The benefit of car showrooms is definitely their space availability. We have reduced the numbers of cars within some of our showrooms to ensure that both staff and customers can move around the showrooms easily without breaking any social distancing rules.

Q: How do you feel this will impact the industry going forward?

A: Luckily we have large spaces and a good team in place to enable us to follow all the necessary guidelines. We know that cars are still part of the everyday necessity for a lot of people, and we imagine that some may even consider moving away from busy public transport to their own vehicle. We have already been able to sell cars online and have been able to offer a “click and collect” style of handover at some of our dealerships. I think for a lot of people looking online is second nature, but following through with a purchase that’s more substantial like a car, may have felt strange before lockdown, but now people can see that you still get the same great service and connection that you do in any of our stores even if it’s only digitally. All of our sales teams and our service teams were already used to sending individual video messages to our customers, and in these times that’s become more and more useful to ensure all the information is relayed quickly and easily but without losing that human contact. The main thing is communication, and we have all our specific Covid-19 recommendations available on our website - https://www.chapelhouse.co.uk/