April 25th, 2022
“It’s the perfect storm.” That’s how GKL Business Development Manager Peter Miller describes the situation around the current availability of vehicles.
“The way the industry is at the moment, manufacturers are providing indicative lead times which we communicate to customers. Anything even relatively minor can occur, which may cause build dates and availability to get later and later. We currently have customers waiting anything from 7-8 months up to two years for vehicles. The situation is unparalleled.”
“Long gone are the days where you used to have compounds full of vehicles and just go and pick a car, and then delivering it within a week. Manufacturers aren’t building vehicles for stock, they’re factory orders only. So as soon as the global semiconductor shortage hit, and then the tragic events unfolded in Ukraine, that all impacted vehicle availability and delayed things even further.”
Thankfully, there are certain things that we at GKL can do to help customers existing and new.
“Because we are independent, we can treat everyone as an individual rather than just a number,” explains Peter. “Where possible and practical, we’re letting clients extend their existing leases to remain in the same vehicles until their new ones arrives. We always strive to keep our clients mobile so that the lack of availability has the least impact on them and their business.
“So to start with, when we’re talking to clients we’re being as open and transparent as possible,” says Peter. “We have customers who have been in a vehicle for two or three years and are due for a new car or van, but with existing timeframes, this requires careful planning.
“It’s about managing expectations,” Peter continues. “We take a lot of time from the outset to understand what the client is looking for. Where there are no new cars available and it’s just not realistic to get them the vehicle they want in the timeframe they’d like, we can offer them a few different options.
“That could mean factory ordering a vehicle and waiting for it to arrive, or trying different makes or models with shorter lead times. They might even wish to consider something that they’ve never thought of before,such as full electric or hybrid. We also have a rental department so that, where possible, we can provide a short term solution.
“We’re also not naïve to think that in the current market all of our customers are going to lease exclusively from us,” Peter admits candidly. “We had one instance recently where an MD of a company we’ve leased to for many years ordered a car elsewhere, but his order had been delayed for a further 12 months. We have a very good relationship with his company and so even though they didn’t replace their car with us, we formally extended his present car for a 12-month period so it didn’t leave them exposed.
“In that sense it’s not about GKL and what we want. We’ll always take a view as our aim is to act as a partner to our customers and that we want to help. We put people and their needs first where we possibly can.”
“Of course, we have to consider our new customers too,” points out Peter. “For them, they are experiencing the same difficulties so offering an immediate solution is just as challenging. It’s really about listening, being understanding and providing the best guidance possible.
“My advise to any customer would be to try and give themselves as much time as possible with planning. Where in the past, you could probably afford to leave it three months before your contract ends before you acted, you really need to start planning ahead, sometimes by as much as 18 months.
“You’ve also got the transition into electric vehicles to consider. There might be slightly better availability of electric vehicles, than traditional petrol or diesel, but with these you also have to consider the infrastructure – the electric charging ports – at work or at home. All of these things require consideration, so naturally requires extra time. So if you’re thinking of moving to an EV – which a lot of people are considering right now with rising fuel costs and the environmental impact, you may need to look at your options even earlier.
“I don’t class myself as a car salesman,” says Peter. “That’s not what anybody here is. We’re all about providing the most transparent advice and guidance, giving recommendations, and building trust to help our customers transition into their vehicles, guiding them through the many obstacles that exist.
“Anybody can sell or lease you a car, but we put a lot of effort into building relationships because we believe it’s important to our customers that they buy or lease from the right person. We don’t treat our customers like a number. We’ll step back and say ‘what do you like, what do you need, and how much of that is a necessity.’ Then we’re in the best position to find you a suitable vehicle.
“If a vehicle does become available, maybe as a result of a cancellation, it won’t stay around for long so, to secure a vehicle quickly, we suggest that our customers be ready to sign an order virtually straight away. So we’ll get the client underwritten before we even start looking for vehicles. If we don’t do that, you can be assured that anything that becomes available won’t be in half an hour!. We do everything we can to act swiftly and put out clients in the best position to secure something suitable in the shortest time frame.
“It’s not about us being salesy,” explains Peter. “It’s about responding to the situation as best we can. If our customers can be understanding, flexible and trust us to navigate a very tricky market, we’ll always do everything in our power to get and keep them mobile.”
If you need help leasing an available vehicle, get in touch with us to find out how our network of contacts can work for you.
Email us at [email protected] or call us on 01844 852000 to talk through your options.