Thursday, 09 July 2020
CAR showrooms have welcomed back customers after the Government eased certain lockdown restrictions.
These types of businesses, along with open air markets, returned last week but staff must observe social distancing rules and wear appropriate PPE.
Paul Mallin, sales director at Sonning Common Garages, said the business had gone “above and beyond” to ensure its showroom is safe.
There are cough screens around all the desks and customers have to wait for a member of the sales team when they enter the showroom.
They are then taken to a PPE station, which offers hand sanitiser and gloves.
Mr Mallin, who has worked at the Vauxhall dealership for 36 years, said: “We have taken it very seriously and everything we have done has been to protect our customers and staff. We have gloves for the customers when they test drive the car and we have also got masks available if they request them.
“I think we have covered every base and gone further than we need to in order to comply with the regulations. I am hoping there won’t be any hitches and that the customers will be impressed with what we have done.
“Since the announcement came that we could re-open, we have had a lot of interest. There is definitely a pent-up demand judging by the amount of enquiries we are getting.
“As part of our re-opening we are having a sale and a lot of the cars have been reduced in price to entice people back.”
Hofmann’s of Henley, a Lotus dealer in Newtown Road, re-opened its showroom last week with a reduced staff.
Chris Randall, managing director, said the workshop had remained open during lockdown but with only three technicians instead of the usual eight.
“The showroom is back open again and we are still a little bit depleted,” said Mr Randall. “I have five technicians in now and my service manager, who is in his own office, and someone on the front desk.”
People wanting test drives could go out on their own and cars were sanitised before and afterwards.
Mr Randall said: “We are not allowing customers to come into the showroom itself. We have a cordoned-off area in the mouth of the showroom and we are delivering cars rather than people coming to collect them. We have a PPE station at the front of the showroom.
“It is nice for people to look at the cars but it is not a necessity. Generally, if people are coming to buy a car from us, they know what they are looking for and we can take it outside and get it ready for them. People seem comfortable with the sensible precautions we are taking and they still want to buy cars.”
Mr Randall, who has been in charge of the business since 2006, has been reassured by the interest from customers.
He said: “We will survive — we can’t deny it has been difficult. We are obviously worried about what the future holds but all we can do is push forward.
“When you have less money coming in, it is very sad because it is people’s lives but we have to keep the business alive. The biggest loss for us has been the six-month extension on MOTs. Usually we would do six to eight a day and we are probably doing one or two now.
“My staff have been in good spirits and it has been heart-warming to see how everyone has mucked in to help us get through this.”
10 June 2020
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