COVID-19 has drastically shifted our everyday lives. Many of us are quickly trying to adapt to the current environment—including car dealers. While our primary concern will always be the health and safety of our friends, families and communities, much like other businesses, car dealers and the rest of the auto industry will be impacted moving forward.
The auto industry has historically dealt with the ups and downs of the market, but we are in new territory with COVID-19. The short-term impact on sales is unknown.
In uncertain times, we need to find ways to adapt to our situation. We want to help you manage through this unprecedented period. Here are a few things to consider, in the framework of a start, stop and continue exercise for every leader in every dealership.
Deliver your value differently. The retail and service centers within the auto industry will look very different during this time. There will be individuals that need cars and repair services. You need to set up processes that minimize person-to-person contact over the coming days, weeks and months. This might mean taking a cue from pick-up/drop-off and delivery retailers; enabling online processing of paperwork and low-to-no contact vehicle exchanges or service scheduling.
You need to end all communications that are delivered through traditional, digital or social channels that have not been reviewed through the lens of our current environment. More than ever, your customers need to trust that you are fully aware and tuned into their needs. Ensure your messages draw a deeper connection to your customers. Car dealers are among the most prominent businesses in the community and this is a great time to step up and show true leadership—perhaps by donating to a local food bank or helping deliver meals to senior citizens. Find the cause in your community that inspires you to action. Whatever your choice for community leadership, talk about it on your social channels—encouraging others to take an active role in supporting communities.
Become keenly aware of who needs a vehicle now and meet their needs. While many people may avoid the dealership in the coming weeks, there are individuals that will need a vehicle—perhaps their lease is set to expire, or they experience car trouble and need a replacement vehicle. It’s important to set up and streamline your ability to connect with customers in one-to-one communication. This can be done through a dedicated support line for customers with more urgent vehicle needs. Anything you can do to strengthen your communication ties with your current customers will help as their mobility options are becoming more and more restricted.
This is an unprecedented time for us all. Conditions near your store may call for drastically different strategic decisions. No matter what challenges are presenting themselves in your dealership, Experian is committed to helping car dealers navigate the coming months.