Back in Business
As campgrounds and RV parks reopen, there will be more people on the roads and more people thinking about their cars. Although the state has seen a decrease in revenue because of COVID closures – last month’s was half of what was previously predicted – the slow opening of services in time for summer tourist season should change that. More people will be returning to normal life and thinking about travel again, and considering how well their current vehicles meet their needs.
As dealerships look to reopen to the public, there are a number of things they should consider. It will not be a quick “return to normal” so many of these will be temporary, but you might also consider keeping some around as permanent features.
- Consider keeping separate hours for vulnerable populations. Older customers who are in need of a new-to-them car will feel safer if they know that measure are being taken to protect their health. The same goes for any customer who has immune-suppressed or elderly loved ones at home. If you clearly have a way to offer people the same great service while keeping up the social distancing, you’ll be able to bring them in and make them feel good about their purchase.
- Take another look at your online presence. How much can customers see on your website? Is it easy to navigate? Can you offer virtual tours of your vehicles to help customers narrow down their choices before they even set foot on the lot? Are the answers to their most pressing questions easily available? While some people might be eagerly awaiting the lifted restrictions, others will have their own reasons to continue to avoid unnecessary interaction with strangers. The more robust your web presence, the easier you will make it for those customers to buy vehicles from you.
- Make your commitment to your customers’ health visible. Clearly mark your space with 6’ distances. Have hand sanitizer and wipes available on all desks. Post a public record of the way vehicles are cleaned between test drives. Offer customers single-use masks and make sure all employees wear masks and know the proper way to put them on, remove them, and sanitize reusable masks. Remind your employees to smize – smile with their eyes, so that their expression is still visible when wearing a mask – and give them protocol on what to do if customers refuse to wear masks or adhere to social distancing so that you present a united front.
- Reassure your employees about your company’s procedures for sick days and what they should do if they exhibit any possible COVID symptoms. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, both when they come to work in person and if or when they need to call in sick. Make sure employees at all levels follow the same rules so that senior employees properly demonstrate for others.
We are all eager to get back to work and back to helping match customers to their ideal vehicles, and these steps will help both your customers and your employees with the transition.
by Stuart Donaldson