Coronavirus Impact on Auto Sales: What Your Dealership Can Do Now to Prepare

March 19, 2020 John Kehm

As Americans practice social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, the reality is your dealership’s foot traffic will be down in the coming weeks. Paired with potential global auto supply chain disruptions that could eventually cause auto inventory shortages on new vehicle lots or in parts departments, what was already a flat sales market will almost certainly get worse.

But…all hope is not lost. Leaders at each dealership need to come together to support their teams and customers during this unprecedented time. And you can count on our team at Mastermind to provide you with the support you need to keep your dealership running as smoothly and successfully as possible. 

Here are 4 tangible tips for how you can create a virtual  dealership experience to prepare for less foot traffic in the coming weeks:

1. Adapt and be resourceful

Dealership managers need to prioritize being available for virtual-deal desking and empowering their team to think creatively to support current and future customers. This means continuing to conduct your usual team meetings via video conference, or getting comfortable conducting virtual assessments for trade-in. Remember, be positive and show empathy. Now is the time to inspire your dealership team to be solutions driven. 

2. Focus on what you can control

Some elements, like customer foot traffic or inventory disruptions, are beyond your dealership’s control, but they may offer additional opportunities. Focus on prospecting customers whose needs match your current inventory. Customers could be spending an increased time car shopping online, so make sure your BDC team is well-versed in your products and is able to answer Internet leads promptly. 

3. Think outside the box 

Your customers are still out there – so don’t go dark. Instead, take a creative approach to bringing the dealership to the customer. Consider hosting live video walk-throughs of vehicles or offer to bring test drives to a customer’s home (if you do visit a customer, create distance between yourself and the customer and wash your hands before and after the test drive). Be prepared to handle delivery and paperwork on the spot if the customer is ready to buy. 

4. Go above and beyond

The service department offers dealerships the opportunity to communicate with customers at a time when they’ll likely welcome a helping hand. Offer vehicle pick-up or drop-off for all service offerings. Work with your BDC to proactively communicate with delinquent service customers to underscore the importance of a reliable, freshly serviced vehicle. Now is the time to be a resource for your customers.

It’s important to recognize that this is a time when your dealership’s customer experience culture is going to be tested and will show its true value. Customers who’ve been isolated at home alone – including many who aren’t used to that experience – will deeply appreciate human interactions with your staff that demonstrate they are valued and cared for. Encourage your staff to take the time to ask how customers are doing to create a human moment that means so much (especially during difficult times) and helps us all stay connected as a society.

This will be a challenging time for all of us, but challenges are not new for the auto industry – and certainly not new for us. Mastermind’s core vision and values were established during the financial crisis of 2008, and while incomparable to our current scenario, we are primed and ready to help your dealership. We prevailed 12 years ago – and we’re ready to help you prevail now. 

If there is anything we can do to help your dealership adjust your process in preparation for decreased foot traffic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Explore additional resources related dealership sales during COVID-19.

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