Dealer Conversations:
Iain Corr, Finance Manager, Hilton Garage

Summer 2021 | 5 minute read

  • Sales have bounced back strongly during 2021
  • Dealers are benefitting from the shift to online sales and home delivery
  • Rising demand is helping sales, but stock shortages are causing some issues
  • Customers are increasingly interested in sustainable options
  • Digital continues to provide exciting opportunities for dealers

Our Dealer Conversations share first-hand experiences from dealers who’ve successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope their insight and advice will shed new light on your own situation, and inspire you on your own road to recovery.

In our second conversation with motor dealers, we spoke to Iain Corr, Finance Manager at Hilton Garage in Hilton, Derbyshire. Hilton Garage was founded in 1973, and today stocks up to 1,200 vehicles at any one time. Their vehicles range from volume marques at £3,000 to prestige offerings at up to £60,000.

How has COVID-19 affected your business so far in 2021?

We’ve been twice as busy due to pent-up demand and people not spending money on other things. We have everything here from £3,000 to £60,000 vehicles, and we’re seeing increased interest across the board.

We used to sell around 500 vehicles a month prior to COVID. When we introduced click and collect early on in the first lockdown, our sales went up to 800 a month.

“All our sales staff have been back for 12 months, and we’ve employed 40 more.”

We’re mainly working to appointments now, but we still get a vast amount of people who turn up when the sun is shining to take a look around. We’re selling 300 vehicles a month with click and collect, and 1,000 a month in total, which is double the number we were selling before the pandemic.

Black Horse’s SignIt Anywhere has been really useful, and it’s played a big role in enabling us to develop our click and collect service.

How are your customers reacting to the drive to zero carbon?

People are certainly more aware, and they often ask if the cars are ultra-low emissions compliant.

We don't have any fully electric vehicles (EVs) on our forecourt at the moment, as we don’t have the facility to charge them. But I’m sure that if we had used electric vehicles they would sell.

How are you feeling about the year to come?

Overall, we’re in a strong position. We run a really slick operation, from the sales teams to the valeters, and everything in between. We’ve started the year exceptionally well and we don’t see that changing – provided we can get the stock in.

“We’re selling 1,000 cars a month, which is double the number we were selling before the pandemic.”

How have you been impacted by the new FCA changes?

We’re fully compliant with the rules – we provide confirmation that we will get introductory commission from our lender in all our sales materials. We’ve never had a customer ask us what the commission rates we get are, although they are welcome to ask.

What advice would you give other dealerships in your sector?

If you’re not making use of digital channels, you need to. It’s so important to play catch-up in the digital world. It has certainly paid off for us.

“We were a very traditional business before the pandemic, and the change has been significant – but very positive.”

We hope Iain’s insights provide food for thought as you and your team work to build back from the impact of COVID-19 and take your dealership further down the road to recovery. Look out for future Dealer Conversations, and please do explore our Dealer Resource Hub for other useful articles.

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