CAR and van showrooms in Winsford and Middlewich have begun to reopen today and are ready to do business.

Two-metre markers have been laid out, cars are being sanitised and the first few visitors have now been through the door.

Family-run Ford dealership Cliff Dickenson and Son has been selling cars to customers in Winsford for 93 years.

Its servicing team have been working throughout the pandemic, while it opened for click and collect sales two weeks ago, but customers can browse the showroom again from today.

Chris Winward, managing director, told the Guardian: “We’re doing OK, we’ve got some test drives booked and people picking cars up. We are ready to deal with the new normal – whatever that is.

“We have sold cars in the last month but not in the usual volume.

“We are adhering to the guidelines. We have got the 2m markers in place, we are sanitising our cars and we have screens in place at desks to ensure we are keeping ourselves safe and to give confidence to customers.”

One of the big changes involves unaccompanied test drives, but management does have discretion to prevent test drives if they feel they would not be suitable.

Winsford Guardian:

Chris Winward

Chris said: “Clearly if there is a £20,000 or £30,000 high-performance car and someone comes in who is 18 with one of their mates, we would reserve the right to make a decision at the time based on if we feel it is appropriate.”

The pandemic means it is taking longer for vehicles to make their way from the factory to Winsford as distribution teams are still ironing out their own social distancing rules.

Cliff Dickenson does have cars in stock now, however, and Chris is optimistic that customers will be tempted buy a new motor.

He added: “It remains to be seen what impact coronavirus will have. We don’t know how overall how things will stack up when you look at how people feel about their own employment situation.

“People have not been able to spend money, so a lot will find that their finances are better because they have not been putting fuel in their cars, doing this or that, nipping out for a coffee and so on.

“But it is confidence that makes people buy big-ticket items like cars. It is a decision that you make based on certainty in the future.

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“I am optimistic. Our customer base is extremely loyal and I am sure we will be in a better position than most. We are open for business and we want to get on with it.”

Arnold Clark specialises in Vauxhalls from its Wharton site, and the showroom has been busy on its first morning since reopening.

Bradley Coyne, sales manager, said: “It is business as usual for us, we are trying to help as many customers as we can.

“Everything has been changed for social distancing.”

Nick Tomlin Cars, which has branches in Winsford and Delamere, is also busy today having opened for servicing and sales.

“We have opened for everything and it has been manic,” said Nick Tomlin, who is the third generation of salesmen in the Tomlin family

“I reckon we are fully booked up for a good few weeks.

“We have got everything in place for social distancing. It has been hard work sorting it out but it is just something we will have to get used to.”

Nick added that sales could take a hit when people are taken off the furlough scheme if businesses begin to make job cuts.

Middlewich Autos’ showroom has also opened today for van sales, while servicing and repairs have been carried out throughout the pandemic.

The business has isolated areas for sales and servicing to prevent cross-contamination.

Phil Mizzi, managing director, is eager for customer confidence to return following a quiet few months.

Winsford Guardian:

Middlewich Autos. Image: Google Maps

He said: “It’s time to wake up – everyone is in sleep mode. We have not sold anything for two months so I hope things do pick up.

“It has been very quiet, but we have been looking after key workers’ vehicles, doing bits and pieces – but it has just been myself.

“We are all ready to go. We are meeting all the guidelines for distribution and delivery, we just need customers now.”

Not all showrooms have opened their doors today.

Fords of Winsford has confirmed it will reopen on Friday, with priority given to customers who book an appointment in advance.