There are many car dealerships and businesses wondering how they can continue doing business as sites are shut down.
To give car dealers an idea of what they could do during this difficult and challenging time, Car Dealer Magazine has spoken to experts from business consultants Sentience Automotive Solutions.
Managing director Ali May-Khalil has given his hints and tips here of how dealers can keep doing what they do amidst the most unprecedented of situations.
How can car dealerships ensure business continuity during these times?
Firstly, how transactional is your website? You must ensure you can take deposits, apply for finance and complete the deal from end-to-end.
In addition, are you clear as to your distance-selling obligations and, if so, you must promote the fact that you will deliver the vehicle fully sanitised.
Be clear on your warranty offering, as many of your buyers will not be local to you; thus, they will not want to bring it back for any repairs nor contact you in the first instance if they think they must. A nationwide warranty will help with the peace of mind sought from the buyer.
Is there anything to keep workshops going?
If you have workshops, ensure that you are clearly operating social distancing, contactless payments and fully sanitised transactions. Get this on your websites along with ‘collect, cleanse and deliver’ options. People still want to MOT and service their cars. You may even wish to consider a special offer for key workers – many dealers have.
Are you set up to talk to customers remotely?
WhatsApp video tours are a good idea. Most people use the messaging service and it’s easy to do. Ensure a customer can video-call you and get a virtual tour of the car. You will then be able to communicate with them, send documents and pictures across the platform safely.
What about live chat? You need to ensure someone mans this at all times and you are available out of hours for the human touch.
How do you manage a sales team working from home?
The key here is remaining focused, adding value and generating revenue. Your sales team must be able to achieve that.
Could you take a look at your payplan and alter it to include rewards for the sales of vehicles, finance or products when done from home?
Think about how you can motivate a commission-based individual who is, potentially, alone at home (activity-based targets, for example). Do not allow people to just drift about at home – it is no good for anyone.
Reset targets aligned to creating content. How many videos a day can they produce? How many followers can you increase for your social media pages? Think about the short term inquiries but also the longer term benefits of building your audience. Stay relevant.
How do you manage a dealer sales team remotely?
It’s really about motivation, targets and measuring activity/outcomes.
Ensure you have a daily sales meeting (Zoom, Skype, etc) to keep everyone involved. Run a mini-league, WhatsApp group or league table that illustrates and promotes some fun, who is doing what from home.
Have they got access to the DMS/finance system? If so, they could build retention programmes, call customers to discuss their end-of-term options, etc. In addition, the upsell of extended warranty could be extremely pertinent at this time – who is coming to the end of their warranty period and do you have an offer for them? Get on the phones, record your efforts and celebrate the small wins!
What should you be considering as normality returns?
Well, that’s really simple: branding, customer expectations and productive/engaged staff.
Be cautious not to go ‘too ugly too early’, no matter the temptation. Remember that out the other side, you will still have a business and a brand to consider. Support your local communities, help people that need it and take care of your staff.
Anything else to bear in mind during this tough time?
Pay staff and pay them on time if you can – no matter how hard. They will always remember that and the culture you will breed will last you far longer than the current, and awful, situation.
Manage customer expectations too, celebrate success and ensure your team has a daily task sheet.
Hold them accountable and communicate with them every day. No, I don’t mean emails – pick up the phone! You will get through this.
Be positive, protect your mindset and remember that this is none of your doing. It is how you react that will serve you the most effectively.