Dave (or is it George) tells us we are emerging from recession and can look forward to a period of sustained growth but don’t hang out the bunting just yet.
I think what the Government means is that they have put money quite directly into the residential housing market through easily obtained mortgage subsidy schemes. This has, not surprisingly, kicked-off an upward pricing strategy amongst estate agents. OK, if you’re employed in the construction sector, you might get a rise or a new job later this year. Unfortunately, with wage increases in industry (including the construction industry and allied trades) being pegged to virtually zero these past few years, the only way to secure a real increase in living standards has been – nay, is – to move company. This merry-go-round is making it increasingly difficult for the unemployed to find work and they find themselves rushing around rather like a child competing for the last available chair in a game of musical chairs.
If you are in any business where economic activity is free from Government assistance, then I’m afraid that its sales people are probably going to have to go back to basics and really make the effort to engage with customers. I have been trying to change my car recently and had thought that a Land Rover Freelander 2 might be worth a serious look. Whilst petrol-heads might want to disagree with my choice of car, that isn’t the point at issue. I went into the main dealership in Coventry before Christmas where, once it became clear that I wasn’t going to spend the entire GDP of Western Europe on a new Range Rover, the salesman simply gave up; he didn’t even offer to show me around a vehicle of my choice, much less offer a test drive or take any details. Not good…Not good at all. It gets worse. Whilst working in Hertfordshire, I thought I’d take a look around the dealership in Bishop’s Stortford to see if I could fare any better. For 20 minutes I wandered around the showroom and forecourt, sitting in the (brand new) vehicle of my choice, examining in detail the information, sitting in it again…Totally and completely ignored! Not so much as a “Good Afternoon” much less a “Can I help you?”
Compare and contrast this with the service from a most helpful and amiable fellow at Kia in Bicester and I strongly suspect my spend on a 4×4 might be heading to the factories of the Far East…Such a shame as I had always understood that the easiest people with whom to transact business were existing customers and I have been extremely happy with my Jaguar all these years.
I dare say my personal spend won’t be the difference between profit and loss to Jaguar Land Rover but, someone at the top of sales at its HQ needs to wake up fast, otherwise there may be a lot of unsold metal on its UK forecourts.
Those businesses that offer customer service will successfully emerge from the recession. Those that don’t will go to the wall, not because the demand for the product isn’t there but, more likely, because their sales forces aren’t prepared to engage with customers, thus leaving too much cash tied up in what will become slow-moving stock.