Dave Rainer, Director at Sussex-based Crusader Vehicles Ltd (also known as Crusader Vans), gives an insight into how the business has weathered the past 18 months and looks ahead to more settled trading conditions.
Dave Rainer (DR): We established Crusader Vehicles in 2004 with a focus on LCV sales, primarily funded on hire purchase and leasing products. BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions UK has always been an integral part of the Crusader operation as a long-standing finance partner.
BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions (BNPPLS): How have the events of the last year and a half impacted your business and what steps have you taken to overcome the challenges?
DR: At the start of lockdown, like most vehicle sales operations, we were faced with a great deal of uncertainty as customers rushed to postpone their orders or cancel entirely, citing the prospect of months without income. The situation worsened as some of our other funding partners removed products from their offering, ran on skeleton underwriting teams, or put a hold on new business.
Our immediate challenges came in the form of postponed deliveries, whilst dealers awaited government advice on how to deliver in a Covid-safe manner. We, like most brokers, were inundated with calls regarding payment holidays, and dealing with concerns from customers who had vehicles on order, amidst financial worries caused by the closure of businesses.
Thankfully in the years prior to Covid, we had invested heavily in our IT systems, allowing us to ensure that the team could work from home with little interruption, which minimised downtime, and went from a weekly to a daily meeting to make sure that everyone could keep in touch as a group, helping to share information and ideas.
BNPPLS: Looking ahead, how do you see the next 12 months?
DR: In the coming 12 months we foresee difficult trading conditions continuing, as demand continues to outweigh supply. However, manufacturer and dealer relationships that we have developed in the past 17 years have enabled us to weather the storm, and we feel confident that this will continue in to 2022 and beyond.
BNPPLS: How long have you been working with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions?
DR: We have been funding LCV products through BNP Paribas since 2006. BNP Paribas supports us with front line assistance from our Partner Account Manager, Debbie Kimberley, and regular contact from our Area Sales Manager, Tim Blain. Our team have also taken advantage of the Finance Unlocked webinars available from Andy Milsom.
BNPPLS: How did BNP Paribas support you during the pandemic and how do you see the relationship developing?
DR: Throughout the initial part of ‘lockdown 1’ we found the ‘business as usual’ approach by BNP Paribas helped us to keep quoting, provide a relatively quick decision, and keep the business open for sales, not just customer service. Whilst some of our other funding partners had closed telephone lines, given long SLAs for email response, and had been very cautious to any new business, the help provided by BNP Paribas was, and continues to be, second-to-none. The consistency and availability of staff to answer our queries and underwrite our proposals has meant that we were able to continue to service our customers throughout the pandemic and ensure we were ahead of the game as business volumes ramped up.
Over the years and particularly in these recent times, BNP Paribas has demonstrated the true value and meaning of being ‘partners’ and long may this continue.