Test drives now unaccompanied as Norfolk’s car showrooms reopen
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Car showrooms across the county have reopened with social distancing measures such as unaccompanied test drives in place.
Jim Nash, sales manager at the Richard Nash Family Car Centre in Norwich, and his team of 10 are among the sites which have opened for the first time since March.
He explained: “We opened on the first of the month and we’ve been really busy. We’re doing unaccompanied test drives to practise social distancing.
MORE: This is where the first McDonald’s restaurants have opened in Norfolk“Because the drives are unaccompanied we are now taking extra levels of documentation over the phone. We’re also asking drivers to be out for half an hour, but most come back before that amount of time anyway.”
Like many customer-facing businesses the Mousehold Lane team are also working behind sneeze screens.
“We’re doing as much as we can over the phone,” Mr Nash said. “We’ve now got enough of it in place so that customers only need to come in once. They can come in, drive the car and take it away the same day.
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“We’re talking customers through the vehicle history, doing personal finance quotes and taking documentation all over the phone to minimise the amount of people we have in branch.”
Precautions like wiping down vehicles between every drive and sanitising keys every time they are used are also being taken.
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“We are getting some people walking in but most of it is by appointment only,” he said.
Mr Nash’s team usually consists of around 30 though some are still working from home and others are shielding members of their household.
“It’s nice to be back and seeing customers again. It feels different but this is the new normal for dealerships for the time being.
“Usually we’d offer customers a drink when they come in but unfortunately our coffee machines are out of action. We still have toilets open for customers and staff.”
He added that he expects sales will increase in the coming weeks compared to their levels prior to lockdown.
“There’s a couple of reasons for this,” he said. “Customers have been telling us they usually take public transport but they no longer feel comfortable doing that. As a result we’re buying in some vehicles at lower price points to accommodate for that.
“People have also told us they’ve booked holidays which have since been cancelled, so they’re treating themselves to a car instead.”