COVID-19 is upon us. You can read the article that I wrote about the COVID-19 outlook and the automotive industry here.
People will inevitably stay home as the number of confirmed cases go up. Here are five things your dealership can do to minimize slowdown in sales during the COVID-19 situation.
1. Have the right tone in your messaging
It's a sensitive time with the coronavirus situation, so it's key to make sure we get the right messaging.
Focus on social distancing first; hygiene second
We're at a point where no matter how many times we talk about sanitizing the dealership or how we have our sick staff stay at home is no longer be enough to get people to come to your store. With the increasing shutdown of public events, schools, restaurants and bars, people will increasingly have social pressure to stay home. One thing your dealership can do to still reach your car shoppers is to cater your messaging around how to provide ways to have minimal amount of contact from finding the right car to making the deal and delivering the cars straight to your customer's doorsteps. It's time to get creative even if you do not have a digital retailing platform.
Be helpful to your clients
Your ability to be genuine with your customers will shine through during a difficult time. Don't go for the hard sell, but instead offer ways to truly help customers in buying a car without them having to come to the dealership. If there are financial incentives you can offer, try to focus on ones that will help defer payments to go through the hard times. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable and make sure to let them know that you are in it together.
Example of a supportive email
Don't make fun of the situation and have any messaging that might encourage social gatherings, touching of your face, or make light of the situation.
Example of bad messaging
2. Communicate your messaging on your (online showroom) website and GMB page
You need to tell every customer who comes to your online showroom what you are doing during the coronavirus situation.
Make sure the hours and operations on your GMB page is in line with your current situation and also observe any curfews or quarantine that may affect your store hours. You should also create a page dedicated to addressing the steps your dealership is taking during the coronavirus situation.
Have a permanent banner that takes shoppers to the COVID-19 policy like the example on www.bestbuy.com.
You should also change your call-to-action button to support online buying.
Another initiative your dealership can do is send out an email to your clients on how you are addressing the coronavirus situation and any kind of special offers and services you are providing during this time. Just telling people that you are going to clean your stores well and tell people to go home is no longer enough.
3. Change your marketing to be in line with the current coronavirus situation
Your dealership should focus on social media as more people will spend time on social media when they stay at home.
For paid search, focus on keywords that promote online buying and deferred payments. You can also change your ad copies on paid search to include how you can help clients buy cars at the comfort of their homes.
Example of a search ad copy with messaging changed to adapt to the situation
You can also make a candid video ad explaining how people can do the deal 100% online and make creatives that are in-line with your coronavirus messaging.
4. Train your staff to handle the changing situation
Communicate with the team on a daily basis as the conditions regarding the coronavirus changes. Be patient as the sales will fall and your sales staff will feel desperate to close a sale. This could be an important time for your dealership to really learn how to sell a car without seeing a customer as the situation is forcing us to do so.
One thing your dealership should do is provide the necessary tools and training to help your sales staff. Walk through an online sales process from lead to negotiation to sale to delivery to identify where you can help in the process.
5. Strive to keep your stores open
As the coronavirus count goes up, it might be all about the “last man standing.” However, strive to keep your stores open and try to have non-location dependent staff members practice telecommuting to decrease exposure at your dealership.
Proper testing and social distancing will determine how much impact COVID-19 will have on the U.S. Automotive industry. Stay tuned as I will post more updates.
As always, please let me know if you need any help or have any questions on how to get through this safely with minimal economic impact. Our entire team is here to help our clients and friends get through this.
What Should Auto Dealerships Expect In the COVID-19 Situation?
March 17, 2020
Slowdowns at auto dealerships have started happening in the U.S. around last Thursday with the largest slowdowns in the areas hit hardest by the coronavirus.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Note from Daniel Kim, CEO of Orbee
March 13, 2020
I want you to know that our team is ready to assist with your dealership's digital marketing needs as the situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving.