Current crisis could provide opportunity to advance customer relationships, says Startline

23 Apr 2020

The coronavirus crisis in providing an opportunity to further advance the way in which the motor finance sector handles customer relationships, believes Startline Motor Finance.

CEO Paul Burgess said that the industry had changed substantially and positively in this respect in recent years as a result of both its own initiatives and statutory interventions, but that the lockdown situation was providing further impetus.


“Obviously, no-one wants the world to find itself in this situation with the horrible cost in terms of both lives and economic damage. However, there are positives to be found if we look hard enough. What we have really noticed about every aspect of our interactions as a business over the last few weeks has been the way in which everyone is pulling together.


“Many of the people we are talking to are experiencing difficulties – whether dealers whose businesses are essentially frozen or motor finance customers who are facing financial difficulties – but the striking thing has been how generally calm and constructive these conversations have been on all sides despite the circumstances.


“In recent years, as a sector, we have become much more adept at treating the customer fairly. The crisis provides the opportunity to move further forward from there.


“Our view is that the public in general will remember the people and the businesses that treated them fairly and with respect during the crisis – it is a watershed moment for the country – and motor finance should do the right thing.”


Paul added that there were financial realities to be faced in both the short and longer term but that he was hopeful these could be dealt with in a pragmatic manner.


“Everyone currently faces distinct financial difficulties, from motor finance companies to dealers to motor finance customers. The full extent of these problems is not yet clear but the news is likely to be quite bad for at least some people.


“However, our hope – and our aspiration – is that we are able to handle these issues in the right spirit and that this will be recognised by our customers. Talking to other motor finance companies, we are finding signs of a similar approach.


“Clearly, there are going to times when financial realities have to be acknowledged but we very much agree with the statement the FLA has issued where it says that we need to keep motorists in their cars wherever possible. This is certainly our aim at the moment.”