Our chat with Rolls-Royce’s Aly Jiwani
With so much of the economy reeling from the effect of the pandemic, it is fascinating to see the real estate industry essentially thumb its nose at Mr. Covid. Frenzied buying of properties at all price levels typically reverberates through the larger economy, as real estate is a key driver for so many related industries. We caught up with Roll-Royce Vancouver’s Area General Manager, Aly Jiwani, to get his insights on the topic, and to find out how his business has fared through the same time period.
Aly, how has business been for Rolls-Royce this year?
Aly: Our mainstream brands and our ultra-luxury brands are both doing extremely well. It’s the ones in-between that are a little bit slower to bounce back. But Rolls-Royce is doing really well, and our mainstream brands’ dealers are doing great as well. So it just depends on the brand.
During the major part of Covid and the shutdown, it was very quiet. People probably didn’t want to show wealth or to come and buy a car because they’d have to sit home and couldn’t drive it anywhere. We sold a few cars in March, then Covid hit, and then they didn’t want to pick them up. Now they’re actually picking them up. I think that it was demand that was always possibly there, and now it’s coming back.
Through Covid, we’ve heard lots of challenging news, but there seem to have also been some silver linings, some upbeat stories of creative things being done to adapt. What changes have you guys seen or implemented – what’s the new way of doing business, given the pandemic?
Aly: People definitely have a renewed appreciation of my industry. Both, on the customer’s side, and us as the retailer. I think that people don’t take these purchases for granted anymore. I think the other major difference is that perhaps some people were maybe living beyond their means. Or buying cars that maybe they should not have been buying. Well, now they’re really reassessing what their true needs and values are. When they do buy our luxury cars, the transition seems to be a much more enjoyable and positive one. And as a result of their well-considered decisions people are really enjoying the car-buying process.
I guess it makes it a lot more stress-free if you’re buying in that kind of a well-considered manner.
Aly: Yes and I think we’re doing a lot more virtual browsing and researching so people are a lot more prepared when they come in. The process of doing business is a lot smoother than it has been in the past.
What else can you highlight as far as the positive for these times?
Aly: I think that our market really goes by what the real estate market does as well. On the mainstream side the manufacturers have come out with unprecedented incentive programs for people to buy. So I would say that is a huge positive where especially, May, June, July, for the mainstream brands was the best time ever to buy a car. So some of the incentives that were available may never be seen again.
One common theme we’re seeing elsewhere, is that businesses do not take their customers for granted – they’re making extraordinary efforts to retain those customers and continue doing business with them. Everything must have completely changed as far as how many people are coming through, and how you deal with them. What changes have you seen or brought in?
Aly: That’s a complete paradigm shift. So, two things – I’ve been in this industry for 23 years and we’ve been open everyday, seven days a week. Number one, we changed our hours drastically; our hours of operation are much shorter now – I think that’s good for both customers and employee morale. And we’re also limiting the number of customers we speak to in a day. But also, in our service departments we’ve totally changed the way we’re doing business. The way we sanitize people’s cars, the amount of cars we bring in on a certain day, all the measures to fine-tune our business. We’re now focused on the business itself and I think customers appreciate that. I think my industry got to a point where it started becoming like, you go to the dealership and it becomes a full day process where you enjoy all the amenities, and do your buying, which is great. But now people like to come in, do the transaction and leave. It’s a lot more efficient and the business that needs to be done gets done much more efficiently. So I think customers overall, have appreciated that more now.
And we imagine with things like events, etc. it’s probably going to be a long time before they start happening again?
Aly: On a monthly basis, OpenRoad hosts two or three events for all of our brands, but I don’t think there’s even one this year so far. There will be one for Rolls-Royce in September. It will be more modest than usual, but something we all look foward to. Instead of doing a three, four hour event, it’s going to be spread over three or four days with one hour time slots. And doing it much more customer centric for sure. As opposed to some grand production. So even the types of events we’re doing are much different than those of the past.