As a car dealer, having spare time on your hand is something that you’re not used to at all.
Being open seven days per week, or having to be available at all hours, is something that’s certainly not uncommon in this business. So, providing you don’t still have a service side of your company operating, it’s more than likely been a huge shock to the system having those shutters permanently down.
While it will no doubt be a very worrying time for you and your staff, it’s important to keep busy during this time. Here’s a look at the things you can do to occupy your time during the lockdown.
Look after yourself
With no money going through the books, while you’re still having to fork out for overheads, this lockdown will be a very stressful time. The pressure will constantly be there to think about your business (which is still essential), but it’s important to think about your own health as well during this time.
Not only should you take the relevant social-distancing precautions to try and avoid catching coronavirus, but you should also consider your own mental health – giving yourself some downtime.
Perhaps there’s a TV series you’ve been wanting to watch for ages, a book you haven’t found the time to read. Well, now is a great time to do this, and it’s a perfect way to de-stress and look after yourself.
Make sure customers know you’re still contactable
While the majority of the general public and your customers will know that your glass-fronted doors will have been ordered to close, it’s important to make sure that they know you’re still ‘open’ by being contactable.
Perhaps put messages on social media or your website to tell people that you’re still answering calls and emails.
While you might struggle to complete a sale during this time, there’s nothing stopping you taking leads on your inventory. It’s particularly important when people, who are also trapped at home, might be browsing new cars ready to buy when this lockdown period ends. Ensuring you have interested customers ready and waiting when that happens will put you in a better position.
Search for leads
With an extensive customer base to go through, and many of them likely to be at home (as where else can they be?), It’s a great time to search your database for leads.
Perhaps you have a good customer that changes their cars regularly, and you reckon there’s something in stock at the moment that would suit them well? Get in touch – they might just be looking for a new car once lockdown ends.
It’s also a good way to check on customers you haven’t spoken to for some time, while some might just appreciate a call at this lonely time – as might you.
Do something for the community
At desperate times like these, people always appreciate those who go the extra mile for those in their community. Perhaps you’ve heard about an essential worker whose vehicle has broken? Why not offer to fix it for free or lend them a car for a month until they can get their wheels back on the move.
People remember these good deeds, and it’s worth shouting about on social media – it might just help you do a few deals later in the year.
Consider how to improve your business when normality returns
No one truly knows just when normality will return, but when it does and you’re able to open up your business again and get back to selling cars, it’s important to think about improvements you could make to the firm.
Maybe making better use of the website you have, considering improvements to your business or looking at different aftersales products that could help earn some extra money on each sale.
Look at your marketing
Marketing is key for any business, and with all this time on your hands, you should look at how effectively you may or may not be doing this. It’s another step that weaves into thinking about how to improve your business.
Perhaps your images and videos aren’t to the quality you want – not showing your business at its best – or you think the advert style could be improved to make them more catchy, engaging and informative to potential buyers? Now is a great time to try out new marketing ideas, or plan how to implement them later in the year.
Stay in contact with staff
If you’ve had no option but to furlough staff during this time – just like many other dealers – it’s important that you keep in touch with your team during this time. It doesn’t mean that you have to pester them with questions every five minutes, but just make sure that they’re well and speaking to them on a regular basis will make them feel more valued when they hopefully return after this furloughed leave.
Watch Car Dealer Live
As your usual routine has thrown out of the window, why not give yourself something to look forward to each day? (Warning – shameless plug alert incoming)
Well at 12pm Monday to Friday, join us on Car Dealer Live (either through the Car Dealer Magazine website or via our YouTube channel) and listen to like-minded people who are sharing a similar experience to you at this tough time. We have a whole variety of guests each week, and it’s worth tuning in on a daily basis to see what tips and tricks you might be able to pick up from others in this industry.
Our Car Dealer Forum is also, unsurprisingly, busier than ever at the moment, and is a great way of passing the time and getting involved with others.
Learn something new
It might sound rather cringeworthy, but you might not ever have this much time on your hands again until you retire, so why not use it to learn something new.
It doesn’t have to be tied to your business – rather something you’ve always wanted to learn or enjoy. Learning to speak Italian might or how to cook properly might provide minimal favours on the forecourt, but it’s a great sense of achievement learning to do something completely new. And you never know, it might just sweeten the deal one day…