Ali May-Khalil talks to Carsnip about Covid-19

Today Carsnip spoke with Ali May-Khalil amid one of the most challenging economic times for the economy of the last decade. Ali has worked in the automotive industry for his entire career, and has held several different positions from salesperson to Head of Sales for large groups such as Inchcape and Thurlow Nunn. Ali now runs his own consultancy business, Sentience Automotive Solutions, so I think it’s safe to say that he knows a little bit about the industry.

Ali spoke with Carsnip’s Dealer Representative, Paul Cannon, at great length around his advice on what actions should be taken now to prepare to reopen post-covid, what his business is doing for his clients, and what his advice would be around marketing during these unprecedented times.

When we spoke about marketing and its importance, Ali shared that it’s important to look at two elements for generating leads through digital marketing. Firstly, the generation of the lead is vitally important, but secondly, it’s really important to effectively manage those enquiries; if you have 1000 leads and you can only get back to 20% of them you shouldn’t be spending as much on marketing. You should be investing that wasted money into building resilience and processes to support the growth of managing those leads more efficiently and effectively. Marketing as a whole is important however, you must know how to deal with them correctly to get the benefit out of your spend.

The benefits and purpose of marketing has now changed. The benefits are no longer selling cars, but are rather about building brand awareness and brand recall. Ali commented “if you’re expecting your advertising spend at the moment to generate sales then you’re going to be pretty disappointed”. The advice Ali is sharing with his clients is that the view to take on marketing is about branding and keeping your business at the forefront of the customers mind.

Ali is a big believer in the industry community and collaboration, commenting “we are here for the industry at this difficult time and if we can help anyone we will”. Ali elaborated on this by saying “if there are 10,000 dealers and 2,000 cease to exist everybody’s market has contracted” we need to support everyone and we will get through this together.

Are you transactable online and is the customer able to be completely self serving now and collect the car when it’s safe? We asked Ali this million dollar question, and he commented that one of his dealers has taken 9 deposits for cars in a single week. This dealer is taking deposits online and will deliver the car only when it’s safe to do so. The key to this is that they have not stopped their advertising spending, Ali said “they are not spending as much but they are still spending”.

People, Stock, Lead generation are the three things that Ali would advise for dealers to focus on in preparation to reopen. Make sure your people are back to match fitness and don’t expect them to come in on day one as if nothing has happened. And remember, just because they are furloughed it doesn’t mean you can’t still support and communicate with then. When looking at stock mix and levels, don’t make irrational decisions in pursuit of cash flow liquidity; be brave and be patient! “The next 6 months are going to be crucial, not the next 6 days”. And the final piece of the pie, consider your lead generation channels and process post-lockdown. What are you doing now to make sure there are going to be customers to contact when you get back into your business? Look at your marketing mix now and undergo a Strengths and Weaknesses assessment. 

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About Carsnip
Carsnip is the UK’s largest used car search engine, with over 500,000 dealer sold used cars across the UK. We operate a natural language search engine, to help you find your perfect used car, and narrow down the choice by what’s most important to you.

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