A REFLECTION ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEW PLATE MONTH
Neil Williamson, Chief Executive
September…..a month that for so many of us holds significance; whether it’s because of the kids going back to school and routine returning, making the most of the last few weeks of any decent weather or for those of us in the car industry, new plate time.
New registration month has always created a buzz within the business, but there’s something extra special about it this time around and perhaps in my sixth year as CEO of Jardine Motors, I appreciate the moment more because of it.
Those colleagues who were furloughed have returned to work, and are relishing being back; those colleagues who worked tirelessly throughout lockdown, have taken well-deserved breaks and recharged their batteries. Our teams are back together and the overall shared experience of lockdown for colleagues feels like it has brought a renewed sense of mission and purpose. I’m seeing teams going over and above, delighted to be back at work and busy focused on implementing new processes. The business truly feels alive again.
And I’ve always believed that we’re not in the car business, we’re in the people business and COVID has demonstrated that more than anything. Our dealerships would not be what they are without the exceptional colleagues that we have in them and which make them a great place to work.
I appreciate the massive efforts that all our teams have put into making the new plate experience still a memorable and special one for our customers, as they navigate the ongoing challenges placed on us by COVID and the safeguarding measures we have in place across our businesses. But what the teams have shown is that you can still deliver those personal touches even with social distancing and all the other safety practices we have in place. Never before has the customer experience been such a balancing act but one where we must absolutely put safety first, as our reputation depends on it; consumers more than ever, are judging brands based on their response to the COVID pandemic.
Digital has also played a significant part in our ability to meet today’s fast-changing customer expectations. While we were in lockdown, we took some substantial steps forward in our digital transformation roadmap. When the teams returned from furlough, they had to quickly get up to speed on new ways of working, which included new platforms, systems and technologies such as the integration with online vehicle sales, virtual appointments and handovers, contactless test drives, a new finance app for end-to-end finance agreements…..the list was endless.
Ultimately, we quickly adapted so we remain the retailer of choice by providing customers with greater choice for how they interact with us. I’m so proud of how the teams have adapted and coped with all of this as we’ve introduced innovations that we believe are enablers for our colleagues to be the best they can.
We don’t know what’s around the corner, but what’s for certain is that September 2020 will stick in my memory as the new plate month we delivered a completely different style of customer service from anything known before and at a phenomenal rate of change.