We are experiencing an extraordinary time, but one thing we have in common is that we are all going through it together.
We do have valuable opportunities to serve our employees and customers. What we do and how we treat people in hard times can build a type of loyalty that normally takes decades to create. Today is about finding methods to keep our employees working and engaging our customers. Look at some of the tools you have available and put them into action.
Let’s review the current status:
1. Your service center remains open as it’s classified as an essential business.
2. You have a large percentage of your sales force at home.
3. A large percentage of your customers are easily accessible at home but on a “hold” mode.
It could not be a better time for customers to have service work done on their vehicle because they are in a position to be without it while the repairs are made. However, the “hold” mode is an issue … so solve the problem.
Put your sales force to work contacting your customers with the news you are providing a finance offer on all service work with a deferred payment schedule so they can get the work done now. This helps your customers meet this need and builds the rapport to potentially discuss deferred payment programs on a new vehicle. Providing your sales force an additional commission for service work will help grow their income as well as the production in your service center.
Get creative to help provide a method to customers who may be temporarily out of work. Create opportunities for workers who have been fortunate to maintain their jobs and/or for those who will soon receive support from the COVID-19 relief package that could help them grow into a new vehicle. If you wait until the immediate crisis is over, so will be the opportunity. This is the time to earn loyalty by finding methods to help the community we serve.
Prior to COVID-19, we were in such a fast-paced environment that it was difficult to focus on core operational components and difficult to find the time to develop many growth and improvement programs. Well, hopefully for only a brief moment, our environment has changed, so use this time as an opportunity to get it done. Make a list of core operational components and growth goals and get to work.
Core operational components:
• Website: Is it missing any information or features? These times have proven how important online media is today. Get this tool in peak form.
• Pictures: Do you have all your new and used inventories pictured? Currently most dealerships can only show vehicles by appointment, if it’s not pictured online, there will be no appointment to make. Stage your vehicles and take good pictures because they are your showroom.
• Procedures: Consider putting together tools to streamline your operation for when the spigot is turned back on. Look at every department; where are the bottlenecks? Build the procedure or obtain the service that resolves the problem.
You may not be making a purchase today for a product or service that can help you grow, but it is a good time to do the research and have a plan ready to go when everything gets rolling again.
I know our communications have increased over this period with dealers taking advantage of planning their growth strategies to increase their online media and process with an automated photo studio. Many industry vendors, including ourselves, have implemented delayed terms and other programs for dealers to move forward quickly when our doors reopen, so we can help you cash up over the next half year. It’s a good time to check with all the vendors related to your growth planning and build a strategy.