THINKING OUTSIDE THE SQUARE POST-LOCKDOWN

During these unprecedented times, it has been amazing to watch humans adapt and grow around the tight restrictions that are in place, finding ways to take advantage of this enforced down-time, and setting themselves up for the future.

Dealers are no different. Despite the current lockdown, our team is regularly in touch with our automotive clients, discussing ways in which we can help set them up for post-COVID-19 business success. This includes introducing initiatives that will enable transactions and interactions to take place with minimal to no contact, and more at-home services so customers don’t need to enter the dealership.

ONLINE VEHICLE PURCHASING

A positive that has come out of this crisis is that it has enabled the fast-tracking of a lot of technological advances that may have otherwise still be sitting on the ‘to-do’ pile. One such initiative for the automotive industry has been the introduction of online purchasing of vehicles.

In recent months, dealers have started to add ‘reserve a vehicle’ functionality to their website stock locators. This new process enables customers to put down a credit card deposit to hold a car they wish to purchase. The vehicle is then blanked out from the stock locator, and the dealer receives a notification, instructing them to contact the customer to finalise the sale – something that can be done either in the dealership or at the customer’s home or office.

AT-HOME TEST DRIVES

Once the lockdown restrictions are lifted, customers will no doubt continue to be apprehensive about close contact with others, so many dealerships are offering the opportunity to test drive a vehicle at home. When a customer books an at-home test drive, a salesperson would deliver the car to their chosen location. The customer is then able to view and test drive the vehicle without the need to ever enter the dealership.

Even once life returns to normal, this form of “we’ll come to you” service will be the way of the future, given the expectations and preferences of modern customers.

CONTACTLESS SERVICING

The Service Department could be the division of your dealership the generates the most revenue whilst the market recovers from the implications of the lockdown. People may feel nervous about financially committing to a vehicle purchase, however car owners need to maintain their vehicles, so will continue to engage your Service Department.

In order to maximise their opportunities in this vital area of their business, some dealers are introducing “contactless service”, so that customers can feel safe and assured that they are not risking their health if they book their car into the workshop.

Once a customer has booked their vehicle in for a contactless service, a dealership representative goes out to their home or office and collects the vehicle from them. The vehicle is then taken to the workshop where it is serviced, cleaned and fully sanitized, before being returned to the customer at the end of the day. No need to for the customer to enter the service department; minimal risk to health and safety.

GET THE MESSAGE OUT

As with all new offerings in your dealership, it is important to let customers and the local public know that they exist. It is all good and well to offer online vehicles sales and contactless service, however if no one knows about it, they are pointless. This is where your creative and advertising is key.

Your website needs to clearly state your new offerings on the homepage, so that anyone who visits knows about the new measures you are taking to deliver these modern-day services. This can be done using well designed slider banners and pop-ups that appear as soon as a visitor lands on your site.

In order to get those visitors to your site though, you need to run a well targeted digital campaign incorporating database marketing, and advertising on the social and search platforms, promoting your services and driving traffic to your page.

It is unclear yet, what the world will look like once this crisis is over, however it is important that we manage our own little corner as best we can. Making plans and setting ourselves up for the future is once such way we can take some control back during these uncertain times, so I encourage dealers to do this. Think outside the square and use this downtime to make changes that will appeal to the new post-COVID-19 customer and in turn benefit your dealership.

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