Despite a much-changed retail landscape, APS Specialist Vehicles in Brackley has seen sales double over the past year – a year that has seen it successfully adapt to customer buying habits.
Having added car sales to its business a couple of years ago, APS Specialist Vehicles, led by directors Nathan Sammons and Ed Jackson, was seeing steady growth in its new venture, buying and selling Volkswagen models from the 1-litre Up! right through to the Audi R8.
A fully refurbished showroom was the ideal place to browse the carefully selected range of cars, until the first lockdown was imposed in March last year and the team feared the worse.
But, as Ed Jackson explained, there turned out to be little need to worry.
“Customers at our specialist workshop had been asking for some time if we bought and sold cars, so in 2018 we took the decision to add a sales department when additional space opposite our workshop became available. All the vehicles we deal with are among the best in their class, they can be any model, from the smallest Up! but they’re always hand-picked by us to meet our criteria rather than simply being second-hand vehicles.”
The team at APS Specialist Vehicles only choose vehicles that are well maintained, have some unique quality or are high spec for that particular model. The aim is to have no more than 10 or so vehicles in stock at any one time, and a lot of vehicles purchased for sale, or to sell on behalf of a client, are vehicles that the workshop has maintained over the years, giving the team the comfort of knowing in detail the history of the vehicle.
As part of its adapted offering and to cope with growing sales, the firm has recently invested additional finance into the sales business in order to provide more buying power, making the decision to buy a vehicle easier and giving customers more choice. The increased capacity also reduces the pressure on the sales team to do a deal simply to keep things turning over.
“When the pandemic started and we had to close our doors last March, we thought it would hit the business badly, but it turns out that quite the opposite has happened and we’ve reacted well and actually doubled our sales in the past year with revenue climbing to over £1.1m,”
“That’s partly because we adapted the business to an online offering. We increased the amount of photographs for each model so customers could get a better, all-round idea of the car, and we added videography, so customers can take a virtual tour of both the outside and inside.”
Customers also have the reassurance of knowing that APS Specialist Vehicles is backed up by a specialised workshop that has been established for over 15 years, and where every vehicle will be checked before it is sold and where MOTs and servicing will be carried out where required.
“Part of the experience of buying a car is going into a showroom, sitting in the car, taking it for a test drive and the rest, but that has been very difficult over the past year. And our customers have the confidence that we wouldn’t be offering a vehicle that didn’t meet our criteria, with a guarantee of quality that makes the buying decision at bit easier. And that if they’re looking to buy, they can do so in a non-pressured environment, browsing online in their own time.
“When you’re buying privately, there’s no warranty or finance deal, while sellers may not be keen to try to sell privately right now, because they don’t necessarily want people coming to their homes or getting in their cars for a test drive.”
What the future looks like for buying cars, no one really knows. Showrooms will always remain popular but buying habits suggest that more people are comfortable with ordering a car online now.
And in an uncertain world, it’s one luxury you don’t have to do without.
“I feel that because people haven’t been able to have holidays, a lot have decided to spend that money on a new, better or special car,” said Ed. “It’s something we have been able to treat ourselves to when we’ve been stuck at home, not able to go on a shopping trip or away on holiday, and it’s been shown that people are prepared to change the way they shop for cars and buy online.”
Find out more about APS Specialist Vehicles or call 01280 840491.