Tips

Top Tips for UK Car Dealers

top tips for car dealers on how to grow your business motor trade profit

Buying a car is a big investment, and it’s important for you, as a dealer, to understand that.

To help you help your customers, we have come up with a few easy-to-follow tips to make the whole purchasing process easier for everyone involved.

Perfection is Key

key ways tips to help grow car retailers businesses

No-one wants to buy a dirty car, so make sure you spend time thoroughly cleaning any vehicles you plan to sell, inside and out. Potential buyers could be put off from buying a car completely if it is dirty and neglected, whereas a clean car looks like a cared-for car, and could potentially add hundreds of pounds to its value.

If you’re advertising your cars online make sure all of the photos are sharp, in focus and taken when they are well-lit and dry. Have plenty of space around each car so you can fit the whole car in the image without any distracting background objects. Include extra images of important details such as alloy wheels and interiors.

Top tip: If you are selling a car from home, consider driving to a nicer area to take photographs, rather than have the car parked on the kerb outside your home.

Preparation

planing your motor sales business prepare

Being prepared for the customer is vital. Make sure you are ready with all of the required documents and paperwork, as well as knowledge about the car. Be prepared for any questions the customer may have about the car, if you come across as well informed and confident, this will ease any worries or queries the customers may have.

There is currently a Plug In Car Grant available of up to £5000 off the asking price of electric and hybrid vehicles. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of the grant before dealing with a customer or recommending this type of car. If they enquire, be sure to have the information to hand.

Find out more about the Plug In Car Grant.

Knowledge is Power

knowledge of your business will help

At the end of the day, you want to sell your cars, so when talking to customers or listing them online, you should push their best features. Make sure you sell the strong points and desirable features such as air-conditioning, leather seats and in-car parking features.

Keep up to date with new models, trends within the auto trade industry and technological advances. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders update their website regularly with new developments and statistics within the industry.

Our 2015 motor trade statistics infographic has been designed using the recent facts and figures from the site.

Be Patient 

being patient with your business waiting success

Buying a car can be daunting for some people, so make sure your customer service is at its best. The more helpful you are, the higher the chance is of them using you again, or at least recommending your company to a friend. Make sure you give a buyer enough space to consider the purchase rather than pressure them into making a hard sell.

If you are trying to sell cars quickly, using social media is a great way to engage with potential customers. Often people will prefer to browse cars online before viewing them on site. Posting offers and discounts on social media will encourage people to visit your showroom or at least enquire about the vehicles available.

Motor Trade Insurance 

motor insurance sales preparing your cars test drive

Make sure your Motor Trade insurance policy includes demonstration cover. Demonstration cover enables potential customers to test drive vehicles before they make the decision to buy. If you can’t offer a test drive to customers, the chances are they will not purchase the car. Would you buy a car before test driving it?

Make sure that you are fully insured as a motor trade business. Be aware that your home insurance won’t cover a home motor trade business. To find out more, read our article here. 

Customer Service 

customer service in motor trade businesses what it needed faq

Ensure that all cars undergo a full service. This should include topping up oil and water levels, and making sure the tyres are correctly inflated and the car has a valid MOT. Little things like this help build a successful business, as customers are likely to recommend you to family and friends if they know you are trustworthy, so go the extra mile for the customer.

There is no point risking your business’ reputation by trying to sell cars which are damaged or in bad condition. Motor trade businesses rely heavily on word of mouth recommendations.

To make good use of any customer reviews your business receives, publish them online either via social media or directly onto your website.

To find out how to use social media as a motor trader read our guide here. 

If you work in the Motor Trade Industry, get in touch with Think Insurance today so see how much you could save on your Motor Trade or Part Time Motor Trade Insurance.

 

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How to Set Up a Motor Trade Business

motorengine-4

 

The motor trade industry in the UK turns over a massive £64.1billion a year and has created over 770,000 jobs according to a recent report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Setting up a successful motor trade business can be daunting. The motor trade industry is highly competitive, but if you do your research and understand the market you can set up a highly lucrative business.

Here are our 10 easy steps on how to successfully set up a motor trade business in the UK.blog-post-assets-gls

Step 1: Research and Crucial Decisions

The first thing you need to do, if you are planning on setting up any business, is to do your research. In depth analysis of the industry can play a crucial part in deciding which type of business to set up. In regards to the motor trade industry, the type of business you could launch could vary considerably, from a small part-time valet to a second hand car showroom.

Having at least a basic understanding of car mechanics, vehicle value and industry trends will give you a huge advantage whichever business you decide to open.

Competitor research is a great way of finding out the where the best place to establish your business is. You should consider foot fall, proximity to other competitors and space before coming to a final decision.

blog-post-assets-cardkStep 2: Branding

Any successful business requires a strong, memorable name and branding. To begin to think of a good name for your business, you should consider what message you are trying to convey. Do you want people to think of you as a small family business or a quirky modern company?

Once you have picked a suitable name, you need to check if anyone else is already using it. You can do this be visiting 123reg.co.uk or namecheck.com.

For simple branding, think of three colours which compliment each other and incorporate them in advertisements, interiors and your logo. There are countless websites with further guidance and information on how to appear professional and visually appealing.

blog-post-assets-balanceStep 3: Funding and Finances 

The Government has a number of funds available for those looking to start their own business. To find out more information on funds which might be available to you visit https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder.

Often applying for such funds requires you to write a business plan. If you need help on writing a business plan please check out our handy guide: click here to read more.

If you have money saved up to invest in your company yourself make sure that you budget for any eventualities which might cost you money such as fines, refunds or tax.

To make sure you protect yourself and your business you should consider taking out appropriate business and/or motor trade insurance.

blog-post-assets-schStep 4: Tax

Register your business with HMRC, as a self-employed trader, you will now be responsible for filing annual tax returns.  So keep on top of your finances…what you have spent, what you have earned and everything in between.

It may be worth seeking the help of a bookkeeper or an accountant in the early days. Paying too much or too little tax could cause you a lot of problems.

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Step 5: Motor Trade Insurance

It is a legal requirement to have motor trade insurance, so make sure this is in place before you start to trade. Think Insurance are specialists in this area and are always on hand to help new businesses get on their feet.

Motor trade insurance will protect both yourself, your business and your customers.

Note: Home insurance will often not cover a home motor trade business. Read more here.

blog-post-assets-think-SOCIALStep 6: Is Your Business Online?

A website can help a business in a number of ways. Customers will be able to find you and contact you, you will be able to offer discounts and vouchers and people will be able to rate and review your services.

In this day and age having a website is something a customer will immediately assume you will have and without one you risk being seen as unprofessional.

There are a number of great sites to help you quickly and simply set up a website such as Go Daddy, Moonfruit and Site Builder.

blog-post-assets-think-social2Step 7: Marketing and Social Media

To find and gain the right type of customers for your business it is important to think about marketing whether this is through advertisements, offers or social media.

Advertising your business online is a great way of gaining new customers. If you are an auto-trader for example you might want to consider using sites such as eBay and Autotrader to advertise which cars you have available to purchase. Some sites are even free to use such as The Car Lot offered by The Motor Trade Club.

Offering discounts and vouchers on social media such as Twitter and Facebook is another easy way of attracting new customers. To set up business accounts on social media check out our Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

blog-post-assets-qStep 8: Trade Plates

Trade licence plates can help you save time and money as a motor trader. Buying trade plates means you won’t need to register and tax every vehicle temporarily in your possession.

Similar to taxing a vehicle, trade plates can be valid from 6 to 12 months at a time and cost around £100.

To purchase trade plates simply visit the DVLA website

blog-post-assets-convoStep 9: Hire Staff

Hiring employees is often a difficult task as everyone tends to be on their best behaviour during the interview process. Consider offering employees a trial period to see if they are right for the job. This will allow you to assess their true character over a 3 month period and make a decision based on their performance.

 

blog-post-assets-heartStep 10: Customer Service

There is nothing more powerful in growing a successful business than positive and genuine recommendations.

If you provide excellent customer service you can increase the chance that you will be either rated online or verbally recommended to a friend or family member. This is the best way of gaining new customers and ensuring they return in the near future.

To find out how to provide excellent customer service as a motor trade check out our Essential Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

Now you have everything in place, its time to get started!  Good luck and congratulations on becoming your own boss!

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5 Motor Trade Money Saving Tips

carwash blog

Tricks and tips to save money and increase profits at your car wash business.

Valet businesses are faced with a tough challenge every day as customer budgets shrink and demands grow ever larger. Customers now expect fast and excellent service for a low cost from their local car wash, putting the businesses in a tight situation to make ends meet.

In order to maintain the low costs for their customers while still supplying them with the best service, car washes need to cut unnecessary outgoings and reduce their maintenance bills.

To help valet businesses to cut those outgoings, we have researched different methods that could save them money. Some ideas will start saving businesses money instantly at no extra cost, but others may require some investment into the business, although the return could become quite lucrative once they have earned the money back.

ASSET 2

Lighting your location’s work space can be an especially difficult and costly task. The simple way to save some money is to replace your bulbs with LED lighting.

A traditional fluorescent light bulb has a lifetime that is 5-10 times shorter than the impressive LED fixture. Working for more than 60,000 hours, an LED fixture will give you nearly 7 years life, reducing the cost of maintenance, and because they use less energy they will also cut the cost of your electricity bill dramatically.

LED lighting is perfect for a valet business as it can also be produced as a sealed fixture meaning that the moisture from your washing equipment will not damage them.

ASSET 2 Copy

Keeping your location and workspaces clean and tidy will make your car wash run much more efficiently. A messy workplace can make equipment hard to find and it can also put customers off returning to your business. A clean car wash reflects well on your business and will make things run much more smoothly.

ASSET 2 Copy 2

Using the correct equipment such as high pressure nozzles whilst using a controlled amount of water will not only save gallons of water a minute and reduce your water bill, it will also increase the quality of your car wash.

We also recommend you begin recycling your run off water as soon as possible, remember that not only do you get charged for the water you use but also the water that goes down the plughole. With an effective irrigation system in place reclaimed water can be mixed with detergents and be used in the early rinses of your car wash. This could save 50-80% of the water you use altogether, saving you a great deal of money.

This is a huge step for a car wash business that will also result in making your business highly environmentally friendly. Once you have begun recycling water be sure to tell your customers on social media or any print marketing why you are doing it. Being responsible for the environment is excellent publicity and will warm customers to your business.

loyalty card

Malfunctioning equipment can be costly to repair and if you are unable to carry on washing cars as quickly or at the same high standard, the time that it takes to repair your kit can eat in to your revenue and lose your customers confidence in your business.

If you want your equipment to last for longer without malfunction you need to train your staff on how to use it correctly and how to keep it maintained. Giving staff the correct training with each of the equipment will ensure they do not accidentally cause damage to it. You should also create a daily, weekly and monthly maintenance schedule, which outlines what needs to be done to keep your kit in check.

loyalty card copy

If you pay hundreds of pounds for design and print costs when you create flyers or advertisements for your business, you might find that it’s actually cheaper and more effective to start using social media.

Using Facebook and Twitter is free, but if you would like you can pay small amounts to reach large numbers of people who will want to use your service. By uploading occasional limited-time offers, pictures of your location and current business updates, you can increase customer engagement and trust in your business.

Check out our essential guide to social media for motor traders www.think-ins.co.uk/news/the-essential-social-media-guide-for-motor-traders/ for our top tips to improve your brand awareness and business online. 

Think Insurance are a bespoke insurance broker that help customers looking for Motor Trade Insurance or specifically Valet’s insurance, for more information please get in touch with our expert team today!

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Social Media Motor Trade Guide

The Essential Social Media Guide for Motor Traders

72% of adults using the internet have social media accounts, 1.19 billion people actively use Facebook every month and 300,000 people are added to Twitter everyday.

Social media is an active part of customer lives and needs to be understood if businesses want to stand out. It’s not just retail, venues and restaurants that use Twitter and Facebook, many motor trade businesses utilise the medium to help sell their products and services and engage with their customers.

Why Should my Motor Trade Business use Social Media?

If you are running any business in the motor trade today, social media is an essential marketing and customer service tool. Social media can help you engage with your customers and construct valuable community and trust. You can educate them about your business and services, advertise offers and products, whilst also being able to instantly answer any of their questions or concerns.

If you’re a car dealer you can freely advertise your vehicles for sale, if you run a valet service you can promote your offers and it’s a simple way to quickly answer questions and queries from customers.

What Should I Share on Social Media?

Relative News and Content

It’s fine to talk about what’s going on in your garage or showroom every so often, but you don’t need to solely talk about your business on social media. You can also talk about subjects that are different but still relevant to your business. For example if you are a mechanic, you could talk about formula one, new cars being released soon or motoring television shows, they aren’t directly about your business, but people who are interested in you will be interested in similar subjects and will enjoy hearing news.

How To Articles

Revealing some tricks of the trade, car maintenance or vehicle cleaning techniques is a great method for getting your posts shared. If you can include your products or services in the ‘how to’ posts you’ll be even more engaging.

Join Conversations

Social media is unsurprisingly a social environment, imagine it as a 24/7 networking event, with that in mind jump into conversations and engage with anyone who might be relevant to your motor trade business.

Community and Charity

Special events going on in your local community and anything that your business does voluntarily or for charity should be shouted about. Sharing things like this make your business more human and trustworthy to your customers.

Job Openings

Many job seekers are now scouring social media for work. If you have an opening and want to find the best candidate, why not increase your reach by sharing the job through social media accounts.

Guide to Facebook

After signing up with a Facebook account, you’ll want to start a Facebook Page, here you can upload all of your branding and imagery and start promoting your business.

As previously stated Facebook has 1.19 billion active users every month, and of course with a number like that, businesses and brands are flocking to use the site to advertise and post things on their pages.

Facebook uses algorithms that determine which posts are relevant to the individual users and should appear in their news feeds, and the more popular posts that receive likes, comments or even shares are the ones that last longer and keep popping up.

To make your motor trade business stand out try following in the footsteps of The Motor Trade Club who continually promote their site and engage their audience with funny and interactive posts. They post interesting content about the industry, run a hilarious weekly Caption Competition and a guess the car game called, The Fast and The Blurriest.

Here are some guidelines for creating a stand out Facebook post:

1. Follow our ‘What Should I Share on Social Media’ guidelines.

See above.

2. Slick Content

Ensure that the grammar and spelling is correct before clicking post and to engage more people be sure to notify any other pages or people you mention. You can do this by typing ‘@‘ and then their name them into the post. (@ing may not work if a user is private)

3. Always Post with an Image

Facebook is a much more visual platform than Twitter and images stand out much more than solely text based. Posts with a photograph, video or image get, on average, 39% more engagement.

4.Timing and Scheduling

Posts should be timed to go out when your Page’s ‘fans’ are most active. You can check this by looking at the insights section on your Page. So that you don’t miss the time slots and can do most of your promotion in one sitting, you can schedule posts in advance by clicking the arrow to the right of the ‘Post’ button. There’s no need to schedule all of your posts, spontaneity is part of social media’s charm, but scheduling some will save you a great deal of time.

5. Don’t Overdo it

Spamming your fans with post after post after post will not increase your reach. Too many posts filling up people’s News Feeds will actually put them off your page, and Facebook may penalise the posts as spam. With a small motor trade business, 1-2 posts a day is fine, unless you have something really special happening, then maybe post a few more.

Guide to Twitter

Twitter is perhaps one of the best platforms to gather new customers and engage your current customers. 100 million users actively use Twitter everyday and finding users who have similar interests to your business and relevant conversations to step into is just a search away.

With just 140 characters a post, tweeting can be tricky to get a handle on, but once you’ve cracked it you’ll see it’s a fantastic place to promote your business and find interesting relevant news sources.

We recommend looking at the style of The Ford Motor Company’s twitter account, who post consistently entertaining and newsworthy posts everyday.

Finding Customers

1. Follow Like-Minded Businesses and Users

By following like minded businesses and users, maybe even a few competitors, you’ll find interesting news and information that you can pass onto your own followers. These are also the people that will follow you back and engage with what you have to say. Following users or celebrities that are not relevant to your business will not help you.

Suggestions: @Ford @think_ins @motorhappy @BBC_TopGear

2. Having more Followers than Follows is best

It is extremely difficult to start this way, but this is the level you want to achieve, this is why following irrelevant users is pointless. A twitter profile with less follows than followers looks more trustworthy than a user who follows hundreds more people than they are followed by, the latter just looks spammy.

3. First Impressions

Upon looking at your profile, Twitter users will generally give you one chance before they decide whether they follow you or not. You need to have a good profile picture, cover picture and snappy biography so people commit to the follow.

Make the profile or cover image relevant to your business and branding. Images of your staff, a sparkling clean car or your tools/equipment would be perfect to represent your motor trade business.

4. Hashtags and Searches

Putting a hash before a word like this, #cars, creates a hashtag. Hashtags are easy ways of discovering relevant users and users discovering you. In the motor trade you might want to try simple hashtags like #motoring and then during events or live industry news try and search more niche hashtags.

Try these to get started:  #motorhappy #cardealer  #cdx15 #motorhour

5. Favourite/Retweet

Another interesting way of getting users to notice you and also give yourself interesting things to share is by favouriting and retweeting other user’s tweets. If someone endorses you in a tweet it is polite to favourite it, and if it’s a really good endorsement you should retweet it to show other users your service is fantastic!

Also if someone says something interesting about a subject relevant to your business, a favourite may be enough to make them interested in you.

Posting Tweets

Posting content on twitter is limited to just 140 characters, which means you have to be creative in getting your point across. To stand out on twitter at first can be difficult, as finding your 140 character voice is something that takes time, but with our Tweet guidelines the process will hopefully be much easier.

1.Think About Your Voice

As we said, your voice will take time to develop, but at all times you need to be aware of what you are writing and whether your audience will appreciate your tweets.

2. Follow our ‘What Should I Share on Social Media’ guidelines

See above

3. @mentions and #hashtags

Engage with existing users and become more discoverable to new users by @ mentioning and making use of popular hashtags. If you are talking about another twitter user, be polite and mention them by including their twitter profile, for example @Think_Ins.  If you are talking about a subject see if there’s a hashtag you could use, users may search for the same thing and find you.

4. Use Pictures and Videos

Its not necessary for all of your tweets to have images as text based tweets can be just as engaging, but a picture or video here and there does make your profile much more interesting.

5. Don’t Spam

Same as Facebook, don’t overdo it. Too many tweets in people’s news feeds will put them off you, also if you are @ mentioning and hashtagging too many times within one tweet people will unfollow you. Around 5 tweets a day should be enough to entertain your followers, though this doesn’t have to be so strict.

6. Times and Scheduling

Your Facebook insights will be similar to your tweet times, so use that to calculate your best times to tweet. Twitter won’t allow you to schedule tweets through its own site, but you can use sites like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule tweets when you want to.

Guide to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is social media designed for the business world. Where Twitter and Facebook were designed for shared social interests and interaction between friends, LinkedIn was made to bring businesses, clients and new employees together.

LinkedIn gets 78 million unique visits to it site everyday, as well as customers, many of the visitors to your page will be like minded businesses and business people. It is also the best social media platform for seeking new employees, you can advertise the job and also see the employment history and qualifications of prospective candidates.

cars.com have a very successful LinkedIn page with over 10,000 followers, they regularly post interesting content and advertise jobs. Though they are a large company, they have the type of profile you should be aspiring for.

How to Make Interact and Make Connections

Encourage Employee Interaction

Once you have set up your business page, you should encourage your employees to sign up too and tell the rest of LinkedIn where they work, this way your business can be advertised to all of their current and future connections.

Join Groups and Interact

On LinkedIn you can join business groups, which can inform you of current news in your field and may lead to new opportunities.

To make the most of LinkedIn you should try to post, or get involved in, relevant discussions regularly and update what’s happening within your business so people are aware of you. If people in the group find you interesting you will make more connections and your business will get noticed.

Some motor trade groups you may wish to join:

Motor Trader / Motor Trade Jobs and Discussion / Mobile Car Wash Owners & Other Similar Mobile Businesses / Mechanical Engineers Network

Recommendations

Recommendations are what makes LinkedIn stand out, they allow you to highlight a skill or talent of a connection to other users, in return your connection might do the same for you.

You shouldn’t ever do recommendations for people you don’t know, it’s just not appropriate and your recommendation won’t mean anything, especially if they are not good at something you say they are. Recommend people you know and are confident in endorsing.

You can also request that your connections recommend you, but if you do this, let them know why you would like the recommendation and don’t be too pushy about it, you don’t want to put them off!

Be Yourself

When interacting with new people on LinkedIn, be yourself and not just an automated business card for your company. If you send standard unpersonalised messages when connecting with new people they will likely ignore you, or worse, they might mark you as spam.

Picking a subject that they might find interesting and creating a personalised message will show them that you care about them and are interested in what they are doing.

For example: “Hi Steve, Hope you’re well. Like you, I’m also a car dealer and I used to work at Jaguar Land Rover too. It’d be great to join your LinkedIn Network. All the best, Tina”

Never let the reason you are getting in touch with someone be purely commercial, they won’t trust you and won’t be interested in what you are selling.

Think Insurance have worked closely with the Motor Trade for many years and are experts at creating policies that suit our customers. We are on all the social media sites, so if you have found this piece interesting go ahead and give us a follow, like or connection!

https://www.facebook.com/thinkins / https://twitter.com/think_ins / https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-insurance

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