Using CBILS to keep business thriving – ‘we’ll come out of this stronger than we went in’

Read how two CBILS loans helped John Parker’s car dealership turn a profit in uncertain times

23 June 2020

John Parker is a veteran of the motor industry with almost 50 years experience working for the likes of Porsche, Mercedes and Toyota. During this time, he’s seen the trade change, and adapted to its twists and turns. But nothing could have prepared him for lockdown, which brought his 18-year-old business to a standstill.

“Coronavirus shut us down for 10 weeks,” says John, co-founder of Wright Vehicle Solutions – a car and van dealership based in Milton Keynes. “We went from taking 100k a week to zero. We just had to shut the place down and hope for the best.”

Getting finance to drive recovery

With the business in a state of flux, John used some of the Government’s finance schemes to cover his overheads and compensate for the damage coronavirus was causing.

“We’ve received relief on our business rates, grants and we’ve also received two CBILS loans – one with iwoca and one with our bank. We’re doing the same as most and mitigating our losses by getting as much support as we can.”

While there are limits on how much a small business can borrow with CBILS, it’s possible to borrow from more than one lender. For John, the CBILS money he borrowed gave his business a bigger cash flow cushion; he was able to invest in new vehicles to kickstart recovery.

“iwoca are very efficient. They always ring you back when they say they’re going to and they always keep you up to speed,” says John. “The whole experience was painless and allowed me to transfer some of the more expensive debt I have to a cheaper way of borrowing – with no repayments for a year it’s a no-brainer.”

‘We’ll come out of this stronger than we went in'

It’s far from business as usual at Wright Vehicle Solutions, but sales are gradually picking up as people start to buy commercial vans and cars again.

“I think a lot of people don’t have jobs at the moment so have decided to start working for themselves. To get set, they’re looking for commercial vehicles. In the last two weeks we’ve sold about 16 or 17 commercial vehicles – it’s not been too bad.”

Like most other public-facing businesses, changing the way they work has been crucial to the company’s survival. Making customers feel safe while they browse has become top priority.

“We’ve got gloves for customers so they can touch the cars and we’ve set up a one-way system. We’ve also started doing unaccompanied demonstrations which we’ve never done before. Customers can take the cars out on their own instead of having someone looking over their shoulders. It’s good for business, the customers prefer it and I think we’ll keep doing it when coronavirus is over.”

“I actually think we’ll come out of this stronger than we went in. It’s a strange thing to say, but I think we will.”

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Dan is part of the content team at iwoca. He writes articles explaining financial topics, as well as guides on the best support for small businesses during coronavirus.

Article updated on: 7 October 2020

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