Car dealerships should not take the second lockdown ‘lying down’ and should come out fighting with ways to keep business going, say car industry advisers.
Fraser Brown, managing director of motor trade consultancy firm MotorVise, and Car Dealer Problem Solver and boss of Sentience Automotive Solutions, Ali May-Khalil, have both issued sage advice as car dealers face lockdown this week.
Brown is advising dealers to work out how they can ‘play by the rules’ of the second lockdown and keep their businesses going.
He said: ‘We cannot afford another month of zero revenue, so let’s get our head around the rules, let’s stick to and play by the rules, but let’s at least maintain our order take rate while we find legal ways to deliver cars to customers.
‘Interestingly during the spring lock down there were some dealers and dealer groups that achieved up to 60 per cent of their normal order take.’
Brown said dealers should communicate with customers and let them know they can still interact and buy from dealers online during this period.
‘Explain they can still buy from you,’ he said.
‘You can give them video tours of cars and assure them that when they take delivery if the car is not as described they can have their money back.’
Brown – who works with a number of the largest dealer groups in the UK – advised dealers to continue marketing too.
He added: ‘Many dealer groups cancelled their Auto Trader and Google Adwords spend during the first lockdown.
‘This left the groups who kept spending buying up all the Adwords at a tenth of the price and generating many more enquiries.’
Brown says dealers need to make sure the communications channels are still manned – so people are answering phones and web enquiries – and says they should keep their service departments open too.
While Zoom and other video chat platforms are vital, he says, as they give you far more chance of building a rapport with a customer than just an email.
He said: ‘Using Zoom and FaceTime gives you 95 per cent of the communication tools available to you in the showroom, telephone gives you words and tone, emails only give you words. Ensure most customers interact with you via video link.’
Car Dealer Problem Solver Ali May-Khalil, managing director of Sentience Automotive Solutions, said social media focus is vital to get ‘more eyeballs on your website’.
He also advises car dealers to use video platforms to chat to customers as they enable a ‘face to face’ element to the sales process.
He told Car Dealer: ‘Limit the amount of emails/direct messages you send to potential customers.
‘The quicker you can get them on a call/video call the better chance you have of doing business.
‘Emails are the worst kind of communication and have the worst conversion rates.’
He also advises dealers to watch their stock and not ‘panic sell it’, adding: ‘You are better to sit on your stock than trade out of it only to replace it in January when prices are likely to be stronger.’
And he said it’s vital car dealers take some time out to relax a little during this mentally stressful time.
May-Khalil said: ‘Take care of your mindset – try and relax, do some things that you enjoy, walk the dog, chill out a bit.
‘Easier said than done, I know, but you need to be in the best shape possible for the months ahead. No point selling a few more cars and getting divorced as a result!’
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