We step into the 2nd quarter in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This is not the first crisis we’ve faced as an automotive family, but it is the first of its kind. As I am writing this, 33 states and dozens of additional cities and municipalities are operating under stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. These orders range in their impact from enforcing a partial to full shutdown for what appears to be much of April, if not longer. No matter how these orders are impacting your dealership, there are steps you can be taking to move your dealership forward.

Simply put, a crisis is an unexpected event that disrupts normal operational processes and has the potential to create significant financial, security, safety and reputational harm. In any crisis, there are four phases – mitigation and preparedness which come before a crisis, followed by response and recovery. Depending on where you live in the country and the recency of statewide orders, your dealership is likely at some point in the response phase. In the response phase, you’re taking actions to deal with immediate needs.

The key is to take additional steps that set up the recovery phase. This will begin the process of preparing our dealerships for what I argue is a new normal on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

Here are a few things you can be doing now.

Keep your team engaged

Our dealerships are our people. Dealerships have long been known for taking care of our employees and supporting our communities.

The first level of response centers around the initial logistics.

  • Have you setup phone trees and made sure everyone in your dealership can reach their team members?
  • Have you audited what your individual employees need to work from home successfully for each role?
  • Have you looked at appointments in Sales and Service and called to make them aware of new hours, new processes or that you’re closed?
  • Have you scheduled security for your inventory during the day as well as the night if your dealership is closed?

The second level is ongoing – happening while the stay at home and shelter in place orders remain in effect.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

In crisis, people seek information, security and connection. Set up daily communications – be that email, text or video updates – to your team. What should you send to your team?

  • OEMs updates
  • New developments that impact employee well-being
  • Updates on store re-opening dates
  • Details about how SBA Loans made available in the COVID-19 CARES Act impacts them and where you are in the application process
  • Plans you’re putting in place now to provide a safe experience for your team and shoppers when your dealership re-opens

These intentional efforts build trust and alignment which will speed up recovery.

Provide ways to be proactive.

Where service bays are open, encourage your teams to call previous sales and service customers to let them know you are open for business. It’s important they know you are ready to serve any needs that arise.

For your sales team working remotely, encourage them to proactively reach out to your customers.

  • This is a great time to check-in and let them know you care and/or offer health and safety reminders. Now is a great time to let your community know you are here for them and will continue to be here for them when this is over.
  • Assess pre-order units, understand when they’re arriving and connect with those customers to help them know what to expect.
  • Encourage your team to identify Lease vehicles for your customers that are coming due soon, so they can help them through the process that is potentially delayed.

Your customers are going to look to your teams to be the experts, so make sure you’re arming them with information that is the most up to date.

Stay present with your community

Instinct tells us to pull back and go dark in times like this. But the reality is, COVID-19 is re-shaping everyday life itself. Our stay at home lifestyles are causing media consumption to skyrocket. We must lean in and stay connected with our customers, car shoppers and our communities with a tone and message specific to today’s environment.

Send the right message.

According to a survey by Kantar, consumers are expecting us to take a more comforting and authentic approach as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, consumers are looking for your business to offer compassion and empathy. Messages that are perceived to be exploiting the situation will turn off a majority of shoppers and will impact your ability to recover. This is the time to help your teams understand what consumers want to hear and equip your salespeople with talk tracks, messages and training that better serves consumers.

Keep shoppers informed.

More than 75% of consumers want to know how your business is approaching the situation and being helpful to them.

  • Share the plans your dealership is making to provide a safe experience at your dealership – continued disinfecting and deep cleaning disciplines, increased opportunities to complete more of the transaction online, more efforts to bring the shopping experience to the consumer’s home.
  • Remind people that you are open for business and working as diligently as possible to provide a safe experience.
  • Equip shoppers with news of OEM discounts and financing available to help them navigate today’s uncertainties and offer opportunities for a virtual test drive or to reserve a test drive when you re-open.

Engage in a 2-way dialogue.

Internet usage has seen a huge increase in the past two weeks. So has media consumption, specifically web browsing and social media. With the right messages and intentional engagement, digital platforms create opportunities to build rapport with shoppers.

  • Respond to every review – Google and others.
  • Provide video updates from your dealership that offer assurance and encouragement.
  • Engage with your Facebook followers. When people react or comment, respond.

Relationships forged and reinforced now, set up recovery.

Wrapping it Up

It’s more important now than it ever has been to take proactive steps both inside and outside your dealership to keep your team engaged, stay in front of consumers and keep your focus on your community. We can exchange panic for preparedness by taking practical steps today to acknowledge what is happening, put together a plan, begin executing on that plan to move forward and eventually, start re-imagining business (and in this case, life) on the other side.

I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous time in the weeks and months ahead as we each navigate the uncertainty for our health and our businesses.

 

We step into the 2nd quarter in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This is not the first crisis we’ve faced as an automotive family, but it is the first of its kind. As I am writing this, 33 states and dozens of additional cities and municipalities are operating under stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. These orders range in their impact from enforcing a partial to full shutdown for what appears to be much of April, if not longer. No matter how these orders are impacting your dealership, there are steps you can be taking to move your dealership forward.

Simply put, a crisis is an unexpected event that disrupts normal operational processes and has the potential to create significant financial, security, safety and reputational harm. In any crisis, there are four phases – mitigation and preparedness which come before a crisis, followed by response and recovery. Depending on where you live in the country and the recency of statewide orders, your dealership is likely at some point in the response phase. In the response phase, you’re taking actions to deal with immediate needs.

The key is to take additional steps that set up the recovery phase. This will begin the process of preparing our dealerships for what I argue is a new normal on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

Here are a few things you can be doing now.

Keep your team engaged

Our dealerships are our people. Dealerships have long been known for taking care of our employees and supporting our communities.

The first level of response centers around the initial logistics.

  • Have you setup phone trees and made sure everyone in your dealership can reach their team members?
  • Have you audited what your individual employees need to work from home successfully for each role?
  • Have you looked at appointments in Sales and Service and called to make them aware of new hours, new processes or that you’re closed?
  • Have you scheduled security for your inventory during the day as well as the night if your dealership is closed?

The second level is ongoing – happening while the stay at home and shelter in place orders remain in effect.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

In crisis, people seek information, security and connection. Set up daily communications – be that email, text or video updates – to your team. What should you send to your team?

  • OEMs updates
  • New developments that impact employee well-being
  • Updates on store re-opening dates
  • Details about how SBA Loans made available in the COVID-19 CARES Act impacts them and where you are in the application process
  • Plans you’re putting in place now to provide a safe experience for your team and shoppers when your dealership re-opens

These intentional efforts build trust and alignment which will speed up recovery.

Provide ways to be proactive.

Where service bays are open, encourage your teams to call previous sales and service customers to let them know you are open for business. It’s important they know you are ready to serve any needs that arise.

For your sales team working remotely, encourage them to proactively reach out to your customers.

  • This is a great time to check-in and let them know you care and/or offer health and safety reminders. Now is a great time to let your community know you are here for them and will continue to be here for them when this is over.
  • Assess pre-order units, understand when they’re arriving and connect with those customers to help them know what to expect.
  • Encourage your team to identify Lease vehicles for your customers that are coming due soon, so they can help them through the process that is potentially delayed.

Your customers are going to look to your teams to be the experts, so make sure you’re arming them with information that is the most up to date.

Stay present with your community

Instinct tells us to pull back and go dark in times like this. But the reality is, COVID-19 is re-shaping everyday life itself. Our stay at home lifestyles are causing media consumption to skyrocket. We must lean in and stay connected with our customers, car shoppers and our communities with a tone and message specific to today’s environment.

Send the right message.

According to a survey by Kantar, consumers are expecting us to take a more comforting and authentic approach as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, consumers are looking for your business to offer compassion and empathy. Messages that are perceived to be exploiting the situation will turn off a majority of shoppers and will impact your ability to recover. This is the time to help your teams understand what consumers want to hear and equip your salespeople with talk tracks, messages and training that better serves consumers.

Keep shoppers informed.

More than 75% of consumers want to know how your business is approaching the situation and being helpful to them.

  • Share the plans your dealership is making to provide a safe experience at your dealership – continued disinfecting and deep cleaning disciplines, increased opportunities to complete more of the transaction online, more efforts to bring the shopping experience to the consumer’s home.
  • Remind people that you are open for business and working as diligently as possible to provide a safe experience.
  • Equip shoppers with news of OEM discounts and financing available to help them navigate today’s uncertainties and offer opportunities for a virtual test drive or to reserve a test drive when you re-open.

Engage in a 2-way dialogue.

Internet usage has seen a huge increase in the past two weeks. So has media consumption, specifically web browsing and social media. With the right messages and intentional engagement, digital platforms create opportunities to build rapport with shoppers.

  • Respond to every review – Google and others.
  • Provide video updates from your dealership that offer assurance and encouragement.
  • Engage with your Facebook followers. When people react or comment, respond.

Relationships forged and reinforced now, set up recovery.

Wrapping it Up

It’s more important now than it ever has been to take proactive steps both inside and outside your dealership to keep your team engaged, stay in front of consumers and keep your focus on your community. We can exchange panic for preparedness by taking practical steps today to acknowledge what is happening, put together a plan, begin executing on that plan to move forward and eventually, start re-imagining business (and in this case, life) on the other side.

I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous time in the weeks and months ahead as we each navigate the uncertainty for our health and our businesses.

 

We step into the 2nd quarter in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This is not the first crisis we’ve faced as an automotive family, but it is the first of its kind. As I am writing this, 33 states and dozens of additional cities and municipalities are operating under stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. These orders range in their impact from enforcing a partial to full shutdown for what appears to be much of April, if not longer. No matter how these orders are impacting your dealership, there are steps you can be taking to move your dealership forward.

Simply put, a crisis is an unexpected event that disrupts normal operational processes and has the potential to create significant financial, security, safety and reputational harm. In any crisis, there are four phases – mitigation and preparedness which come before a crisis, followed by response and recovery. Depending on where you live in the country and the recency of statewide orders, your dealership is likely at some point in the response phase. In the response phase, you’re taking actions to deal with immediate needs.

The key is to take additional steps that set up the recovery phase. This will begin the process of preparing our dealerships for what I argue is a new normal on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

Here are a few things you can be doing now.

Keep your team engaged

Our dealerships are our people. Dealerships have long been known for taking care of our employees and supporting our communities.

The first level of response centers around the initial logistics.

  • Have you setup phone trees and made sure everyone in your dealership can reach their team members?
  • Have you audited what your individual employees need to work from home successfully for each role?
  • Have you looked at appointments in Sales and Service and called to make them aware of new hours, new processes or that you’re closed?
  • Have you scheduled security for your inventory during the day as well as the night if your dealership is closed?

The second level is ongoing – happening while the stay at home and shelter in place orders remain in effect.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

In crisis, people seek information, security and connection. Set up daily communications – be that email, text or video updates – to your team. What should you send to your team?

  • OEMs updates
  • New developments that impact employee well-being
  • Updates on store re-opening dates
  • Details about how SBA Loans made available in the COVID-19 CARES Act impacts them and where you are in the application process
  • Plans you’re putting in place now to provide a safe experience for your team and shoppers when your dealership re-opens

These intentional efforts build trust and alignment which will speed up recovery.

Provide ways to be proactive.

Where service bays are open, encourage your teams to call previous sales and service customers to let them know you are open for business. It’s important they know you are ready to serve any needs that arise.

For your sales team working remotely, encourage them to proactively reach out to your customers.

  • This is a great time to check-in and let them know you care and/or offer health and safety reminders. Now is a great time to let your community know you are here for them and will continue to be here for them when this is over.
  • Assess pre-order units, understand when they’re arriving and connect with those customers to help them know what to expect.
  • Encourage your team to identify Lease vehicles for your customers that are coming due soon, so they can help them through the process that is potentially delayed.

Your customers are going to look to your teams to be the experts, so make sure you’re arming them with information that is the most up to date.

Stay present with your community

Instinct tells us to pull back and go dark in times like this. But the reality is, COVID-19 is re-shaping everyday life itself. Our stay at home lifestyles are causing media consumption to skyrocket. We must lean in and stay connected with our customers, car shoppers and our communities with a tone and message specific to today’s environment.

Send the right message.

According to a survey by Kantar, consumers are expecting us to take a more comforting and authentic approach as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, consumers are looking for your business to offer compassion and empathy. Messages that are perceived to be exploiting the situation will turn off a majority of shoppers and will impact your ability to recover. This is the time to help your teams understand what consumers want to hear and equip your salespeople with talk tracks, messages and training that better serves consumers.

Keep shoppers informed.

More than 75% of consumers want to know how your business is approaching the situation and being helpful to them.

  • Share the plans your dealership is making to provide a safe experience at your dealership – continued disinfecting and deep cleaning disciplines, increased opportunities to complete more of the transaction online, more efforts to bring the shopping experience to the consumer’s home.
  • Remind people that you are open for business and working as diligently as possible to provide a safe experience.
  • Equip shoppers with news of OEM discounts and financing available to help them navigate today’s uncertainties and offer opportunities for a virtual test drive or to reserve a test drive when you re-open.

Engage in a 2-way dialogue.

Internet usage has seen a huge increase in the past two weeks. So has media consumption, specifically web browsing and social media. With the right messages and intentional engagement, digital platforms create opportunities to build rapport with shoppers.

  • Respond to every review – Google and others.
  • Provide video updates from your dealership that offer assurance and encouragement.
  • Engage with your Facebook followers. When people react or comment, respond.

Relationships forged and reinforced now, set up recovery.

Wrapping it Up

It’s more important now than it ever has been to take proactive steps both inside and outside your dealership to keep your team engaged, stay in front of consumers and keep your focus on your community. We can exchange panic for preparedness by taking practical steps today to acknowledge what is happening, put together a plan, begin executing on that plan to move forward and eventually, start re-imagining business (and in this case, life) on the other side.

I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous time in the weeks and months ahead as we each navigate the uncertainty for our health and our businesses.