COVID-19 has changed the way the world works on a fundamental level more than any other event in our lifetimes. It changed the way we shop, the way we socialize, the way we view our jobs, our friends, our loved ones and more. As business resumes from the pandemic that changed the world, is your dealership ready to execute your comeback? Here are three main areas to focus on to ensure that you’re ready to succeed in a post lock down world.
1. Pay Close Attention to Your Inventory
Dealers across the country are experiencing inventory shortages as pent up market demand collides with months-long factory closures or limited output operations. Strategic inventory management is more key than ever right now, and that means thinking about your inventory in ways you rarely, if ever, had to consider.
First and foremost, it’s more crucial than ever to coordinate your advertising with your automotive digital marketing agency to make sure you’re spending your ad dollars on vehicles that you have to sell. If you sell out of a particular model (and don’t see any coming down the pipeline any time soon), your first move should be reaching out to your advertising coordinators to reallocate any funds being spent on that model to other vehicles. The more open your lines of communication are, the better you’ll be able to adapt to this rapidly evolving situation, and the more return you’ll get on your advertising investment.
While you wait for your new vehicle shipments to ramp back up, it might be time to consider bulking up your inventory of certified or later model year used vehicles. As new vehicle inventories get slimmer, customers are going to look at used vehicles to fill in the gaps. We’re already seeing this trend start in the digital sphere. A properly stocked used inventory will keep your sales operations going through the shortages and keep your customer base loyal for when production recovers in the future.
If you do decide to expand your used inventory, it’s time to consider advertising avenues beyond what you were doing before to promote your used vehicles. This could mean beefing up your used vehicle programs you have in place, coming up with more used vehicle specials to advertise, trying something new like dynamic retargeting or dabbling in the hyper competitive used car SEM sphere. Talk to your automotive digital marketing agency about strategies to implement for used car promotion, and establish your dealership as the used vehicle destination in your area.
2. Bring Back your BDC Department ASAP
As dealers re-open, deciding which staff to bring back first is a major challenge. Do you fill out your sales staff first to handle the influx of lot wanderers anxious to get out of the house? Bring back your full management team to oversee the reopening? While those are all important, we highly suggest you start with your BDC department.
One thing that COVID-19 hasn’t changed: your BDC is still the cornerstone of your entire operation. They’re often your customer’s first contact with your dealership, and responsible for getting them in the door. They’re the air traffic controllers, guiding all of the planes in the sky in for a landing and your salesmen are the pilots who physically land the plane. Even though your pilots have the skillset necessary to complete the sale and bring the plane in for a landing, if nobody is directing them there’s bound to be a crash.
We’re noticing a serious uptick in traffic, leads and general interaction at our clients’ dealerships as economies reopen. In order to take advantage of this and reclaim your market share, your BDC department has to be in at full force and on their game to start the process to convert these leads into sales.
3. Put Customer and Employee Safety First
Your first priority as a dealer in a post-pandemic world should be your customers’ and your employees’ safety. Customers will ultimately shop where and when they feel it’s safe to shop. If you want their business, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to cultivate that safe atmosphere for them.
In a recent Quinnipiac poll, 49% of Americans believe it’s unsafe to go shopping for clothes, 62% say it’s unsafe to go to a restaurant, and 50% say it’s unsafe to go to the barbershop. While automotive dealerships weren’t directly asked about in the poll, it’s a good read on what the American populous is thinking about right now, and how they regard business interactions in the present moment.
As reopening happens, people may become more comfortable and more lax about COVID avoidance measures as citizens, but that doesn’t mean your business has a green light to do so. Abiding by CDC business guidelines, making sure employees are following masking and sanitization policies at all times, and respecting social distancing in the showroom and on the lot are all great first steps to making customers feel safe. You can take it a step further by continuing to offer at home test drives, service pickup and drop off, guiding customers through the online purchase process and minimizing direct contact in the pickup or drop off process.
Going the extra mile to make people feel safe and comfortable as society resumes is what will separate your dealership from the rest, keep your frontline employees healthy and safe, and help you carve out your market share in a post pandemic world.
These are just 3 of a multitude of points to consider as you navigate your way through this new era in car sales. Staying on top of these areas is an important first step in re-establishing your dealership as a sales, safety, and thought leader in your area. If you need any help restarting, you’ve gotten off the ground and aren’t sure of what to do next, or just want someone to bounce some ideas off of, please feel free to give us a call at 877-958-4524 or contact us and one of our experts will be glad to help you navigate these uncharted waters.
Michael is a Digital Marketing Strategist with over 7 years of experience implementing and managing digital media campaigns of all types and sizes. Over the course of his career, he has held a variety of certifications from Google Ads, Google Analytics, Facebook, Programmatic DSP’s and more.
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