Armstrong says just get on with it!
Getting on with business under the ‘new normal’ is one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned Automotive Groups - Armstrong’s. They run 30 dealerships across 13 locations throughout New Zealand’s main centres representing 16 brands and employ over 500 people.
Owner Rick Armstrong commented “This is about adapting quickly to the new environment and keeping our customers at the centre of what we do. Under the Level 4 lockdown we worked harder than we ever have, quickly getting the business into shape and planning for progressively re-entering business through the various levels.”
Armstrong’s re-commenced business under level 3 on 28th March and vehicle servicing was immediately at 90% and vehicle sales averaging around 50% of pre-lockdown levels.
“This is ahead of what we had hoped and re-engaging with customers has been great. Business is certainly being done differently, contactless with appropriate distancing, sanitising vehicles and general safety precautions, but staff are working well within the guidelines and customers have been very understanding and have appreciated our efforts.” said Armstrong.
“Our push to just get on with it, is a symbol of the New Zealand spirit, forget the doom and gloom, we need to take every step, however small, to beat COVID from a health perspective but also from a economic perspective. We can’t simply sit around and wring our hands. Our staff and our customers all want to contribute to getting New Zealand safely back up and running.“
Armstrong is the first to admit that the effect on business over a lengthy period will be profound. There will inevitably be business failures and lower activity levels for an extended period. He does believe though that while government support has been helpful, there are specific and constructive ways the government can assist the automotive sector going forward.
“There are positive ways that the government can assist business and provide long term sector benefits. There is a real opportunity to refresh the national vehicle fleet through incentivised scrapping programs to get less safe and less environmentally friendly cars off the road; the provision of better tax laws for business vehicles; and incentives for more modern vehicles that are safer and greener. Now is the perfect opportunity to provide that stimulus with long term benefits to the environment, to the economy and to people’s safety. Centre to that would be tighter rules around used vehicle imports which can have unforeseen negative effects on average vehicle age, safety and scrappage costs. ”
“We are looking forward to the progressive return to business as usual when it is safe to do so, and to continue to provide vehicles and service to customers throughout New Zealand. We have been incredibly proud of the resilience shown by our staff and we are now looking to the government to provide appropriate ideas and stimulus to the economy, of which the automotive sector and transport more broadly, is an integral and enabling function.” concluded Armstrong.