We’re coming out of one of the most challenging years that we have ever faced together. To take stock of what we’ve learned, our MD, Richard Jones, offers his insight into how the leisure industry was affected in 2020 and what to expect from 2021.
Both the fixed and mobile leisure market have shown very strong performances over the course of the year. A surge in demand for staycations helped boost business, especially during the summer months as people made the most of loosened restrictions and adapted to the poor availability of foreign holidays.
We have seen the usual minor lag as the production side of the leisure industry catches up with the trends. Issues with part supply and manufacturing trends impacted both UK and European manufacturers. Despite both of these speedbumps, the market has responded overwhelmingly well to the staycation boom. And now people have discovered how much the UK has to offer, it seems safe to assume the staycation isn’t going anywhere.
“I had three UK holidays last year and I absolutely loved them. This is an amazing country to holiday in and I think the leisure industry is seeing the benefit of that.”
Trend 2: Moving (slowly) towards digital
Alongside the rise in domestic holidays, we saw a rapid acceleration in customers’ use of digital as people stayed away from showrooms and public spaces. Even so, the majority of business we transact is still being completed physically with a dealer. It’s clear customers aren’t quite ready to go fully digital just yet.
Trend 3: Industry collaboration in support of customers
Another trend we were pleased to see this year was the leisure industry coming together in the face of difficulty. Collectively, we’ve proven the value of strong partnerships and rallied to support customers all over the country. At Black Horse, we helped over 150,000 customers – just under a fifth of our total number – with forbearance. At the same time, we aided dealers with extended stocking. Supporting dealers and customers has been the focus of our efforts throughout the year, and we were pleased to see so many other members of our industry with the same aims.
Trend 4: FCA regulations giving customer confidence a boost
The final key lesson we learned in 2020 came from the new FCA regulations relating to Commission and Commission Disclosures. We believe the regulations are going to be great for the industry – they’ll develop customer confidence in the market and help people feel more secure in their transactions with us. That can only be a good thing for everyone.
“The spirit of the rules is firstly to give customers transparency on your relationships – and to do that well in advance of when they are actually signing on the dotted line.”
What might we expect from 2021?
Prediction 1: It’s going to be a good year for the leisure industry
It might appear doom and gloom, but the outlook for the leisure market is actually very positive. Millions of people discovered the beauty of the UK last year, and there’s no reason they won’t continue to appreciate our country as a place not just to live, but to enjoy time in. And that’s great news for the leisure industry.
Prediction 2: Coping with further economic hardship
Once the lockdown ends, we’re likely to feel the pandemic’s other effects throughout this year. Economic issues are largely being drowned out by the need to focus on containing and combating the disease, but the scale of public debt is going to be impossible to ignore. Sadly, unemployment and economic difficulties are inevitable. Hundreds of thousands of customers will be facing financial difficulty this year, and as an industry we need to be there for them in the same way we were throughout 2020.
What is Black Horse doing to support this vision for the future?
Above all else, we are vehicle finance experts who love what we do. We’ll continue to bring that passion to our business, with continued focus on relationships.
“I am so lucky that I have a business full of super-dedicated, passionate people who know what they are doing and know the market.”
We’re also going to be focusing on digital. We’re creating a multi-channel financing journey, so customers can move seamlessly from digital to the physical retailer and back to digital. Keeping technology at the forefront means we can improve the journey for both dealers and customers, and continue to support dealers as they evolve their own models.
Alongside this, we’ll be constantly reviewing our products. If we find somewhere they could be more flexible, we’ll make changes where we can so we can continue to help customers as their needs evolve through 2021 and beyond.
“My ambition for Black Horse is for us to remain a market leader that puts customer outcomes and our long-term relationships with dealers at the heart of what we do. Whatever changes come about, we’ll stay true to those things."
We hope Richard’s insights provide food for thought and encouragement as you prepare your dealership for a new year and new challenges. If you’d like to explore more industry analysis from Black Horse, browse more articles.