Auto industry will come out stronger from this pandemic: Salim Sabaagh, acting Ceo, AJIA

by | Sep 30, 2020 | 0 comments

Auto leaders will arise stronger from the pandemic, if they are mindful of emerging trends, adapting to them at a rapid pace.

The industry will come out stronger from this Coronavirus pandemic crisis, with brands and dealerships discovering new techniques to connect with customers, resulting in greater efficiencies, according to a top spokesperson of Al Jenaibi International Automobiles (AJIA).

“The rest of 2020 will be a time where Omani auto brands recover and reflect. Auto leaders will arise stronger from the pandemic if they are mindful of emerging trends, adapting to them at a rapid pace. Through this crisis, we have acquired new and innovative methods to communicate with our customers,” said Salim Sabaagh, acting chief executive officer of AJIA, in exclusive remarks made to Black & White online.

How to add value for customers

He said that the pandemic has affected economies and industries worldwide. “Ultimately, this had led to the entire automotive sector taking another look at how they should add value for their customers, safeguarding their health whilst maintaining sales,” Salim Sabaagh said.

While Salim Sabaagh agreed that their sales had “slightly declined in Q2, as a result of the pandemic and showroom closure”, he was quick to note that they were “back on track and have seen an increase in sales”.

A case in point is their BMW 5 Series: this vehicle’s stock rapidly sold out due to AJIA’s attractive offers, Salim Sabaagh said, adding that this was “an indication of how the Omani market is quickly recovering and moving forward”.

Excerpts:

The launch of the newest BMW 5 Series in Oman must be a great confident booster for all at Al Jenaibi International Automobiles. According to you, what is the outlook for this new BMW 5 series in the Oman market?

Within BMW’s brand portfolio, one of the best performing models across the region is without a doubt the BMW 5 Series. As a result of always being one of AJIA’s best sellers, we are confident that the newest edition of the model will truly excite prospective car buyers in Oman.

In combination with impressive driving dynamics and innovative technologies, the new BMW 5 Series Sedan provides comfort, self-assuredness and, above all, a supreme level of sheer driving pleasure on journeys both short and long. Due to its unique specifications, this model is perfectly well suited for all ages and for those looking to own a midsize luxury car.

However, worldwide, auto experts note that the demand for new cars is likely to be impacted for the remainder of the year (2020) too. How is the situation for BMW in Oman in the current pandemic scene? Has the pandemic seriously dampened the BMW sales in the Oman market?

The pandemic has affected economies and industries worldwide. Ultimately, this had led to the entire automotive sector taking another look at how they should add value for their customers, safeguarding their health whilst maintaining sales.

When looking to the future of the automotive sector, the industry will come out stronger from this crisis, with brands and dealerships discovering new techniques to connect with customers, resulting in greater efficiencies. The rest of 2020 will be a time where Omani auto brands recover and reflect.

Auto leaders will arise stronger from the pandemic if they are mindful of emerging trends, adapting to them at a rapid pace. Through this crisis, we have acquired new and innovative methods to communicate with our customers.

How is the Oman market faring for BMW when compared to other markets? What does the future portend for Al Jenaibi?

The last few months have caused a transformational shift in nearly every aspect of our lives. Due to the extended lockdown and restrictions in Oman throughout Q2, the market was inevitably affected.

However, as a result of the pandemic, the way people now consume their information is predominately through digital platforms. As a result, Oman has developed a stronger online presence, assuring safety and accessibility and will continue to roll out digital initiatives to ensure customer convenience. If it were not for the pandemic, transformations would not have excelled at this speed.

Additionally, to rebound sales and adapt to these challenging times, AJIA decided to launch a special price on the BMW 5 Series Sedan, alongside a host of other benefits. By providing products and services that are truly valued by our clients, we have been meeting the needs of our discerning clients.

There is no doubt that Al Jenaibi International Automobiles is revved up to meet any crisis posed by the pandemic, but could you share some thoughts on the bold strategies employed (to be employed) and other positive plans?

To ensure we are meeting consumer demands, we will also continue to focus on a more digitalised approach. For example, we just launched CitNOW, a brand-new digital video sharing platform. Each car at AJIA’s workshop is closely analysed by a team of specialists. Upon inspection, each customer will now receive clear video updates through the CitNOW app directly to their mobile phone. Real-time feedback from BMW and MINI experts will also be shared, alongside service recommendations.

The application has been tailored specifically for customers seeking ease and convenience on the aftersales care of their BMW or MINI, allowing clients to view their cars from the comfort of their own homes.

What is Al Jenaibi’s/BMW’s marketing offensive in this current period?

Al Jenaibi has conducted significant amounts of research into customer spending during COVID-19 and implemented best practice strategies to maintain sales.

As mentioned, numerous programmes were rolled out to adapt to market conditions. We will continue to constantly improve our online and offline presence, to create a 360-degree experience for our clients. We want to guarantee that each customer can enjoy AJIA’s harmonious integration of physical and digital sales channels.

There must have been a 2020 target set last year, how has Al Jenaibi/BMW fared in that respect? Were the first quarter/half-yearly sales up to the mark?

Our sales slightly declined in Q2 as a result of the pandemic and showroom closure, but we are back on track and have seen an increase in sales. As previously mentioned, our BMW 5 Series stock rapidly sold out due to our attractive offers – an indication of how the Omani market is quickly recovering and moving forward.

On a general scale, how long would it take for signs of recovery to trickle into the auto market in Oman?

What we have learnt this year is that it is hard to predict the future. However, we are confident in the global efforts that are being made to combat the pandemic and the health and safety guidelines in place. We predict, as with most industries and sectors, 2021 will be a positive year focusing on recovery and rebuilding.

Nevertheless, due to the arrival of the newest BMW 5 series, and the arrival of the brand-new BMW 4 series next month, we are confident that the auto market and the AJIA dealerships will recover at a much faster rate than originally expected.

Has Al Jenaibi/BMW embarked on any supporting measures to help the government in their fight against this pandemic – have any measures been taken on a general scale to support the market, which has been hit by the pandemic?

We are applying the highest level of care and hygiene measures across all AJIA facilities following the guidance we are receiving from the Omani authorities. It is compulsory for each employee to wear a mask and gloves and maintain the advised social distance during each required interaction.

The dealership has also deployed a state-of-the-art Thermographic Bullet Body Temperature Machine to automatically check the temperature of visitors to the facility in-order to provide for a safe and healthy environment for employees and customers. We conduct anti-bacterial and sanitisation treatments daily, guaranteeing that every customer has a seamless and safe experience.

Throughout the lockdown period Al Jenaibi International Automobiles, pre-empting customers’ requirements, provided a 24-hour emergency response service to clients. Additionally, to support customers during these trying times, we launched an array of desirable offers including an attractive starting price of just OMR 18,250 on the renowned BMW X3, amongst others.

Does Al Jenaibi deal with BMW electric/electrified cars in Oman – if so how is it faring; how are the sales of the electric cars? How is the market responding to electric cars?

Oman has a vision to utilise cleaner and renewable energy; however, the Authority for Electricity Regulations is still developing a clear framework for EVs. Once there are more charging stations available across the Sultanate, we will start to introduce more electric vehicles at the dealership. The BMW Middle east, however, are setting the course for the future and once again stepping up the pace of electro-mobility expansion significantly.

Since 2017, we started to see a consumer shift towards electric vehicles, and we expect this trend to continue in the next five to ten years. In 2021, BMW Group Middle East will be launching many electrified vehicles across the region. We will let you know about the specific models closer to the launch dates. Therefore, once Oman does implement more charging stations, we will be ready to commence our electrification journey with the support of BMW Group Middle East.

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