Brexit uncertainty is prompting some dealers to suspend staff recruitment, while others are planning layoffs.
Coachworks, the independent automotive performance improvers, cites cases of dealers holding lists of staff members they will lose following the UK’s exits from the EU.
“We’re seeing a number of car retailers, especially highly geared ones, with plans in place to reduce their headcount following Brexit,” said Karl Davis, managing director of Coachworks.
“We are aware of a sizeable group that has already drawn up a list of staff that will be cut when Brexit goes through. The affected jobs are across all departments, from operational staff to management, including some very good salespeople. Dealers are seriously concerned about the continued impact Brexit is having on consumer confidence.”
Coachworks is also seeing instances of dealers using Brexit uncertainty as an excuse to shed unwanted staff.
“Difficult trading conditions are often used as opportunities to get rid of any deadwood and Brexit is certainly being used as an excuse to resolve outstanding issues where staff are under-performing or not needed,” he said.
Brexit uncertainty has also prompted some large dealer groups to introduce centralised recruitment freezes until the end of the year.
“Some groups have entered a state of lockdown and this is impacting those who have invested heavily in opening large sites but are now unable to staff them up to optimum levels.
“OEMs have a moral responsibility to offer more support to their networks, especially brands who have asked their retailer partners to make significant investments in facilities and who now face punishing levels of overheads,” said Davis.
Despite the fragility of consumer confidence, Coachworks believes many retailers have adjusted well to changing market conditions.
“In many cases Brexit is being used as an excuse for a lot of dysfunction in car retailing businesses. However, we’ve seen evidence of retailers who have already taken tough decisions to right-size their operations and who are now seeing the benefits.”
Coachworks also points to dealers achieving success in the current climate through maintaining rigorous enquiry management processes.
“Dealership managers with a clear understanding of the real opportunities to do business and are sweating their investments in CRM platforms. At times like this every customer enquiry is important which is why the best performing dealers have robust processes in place to manage them,” he said.