Coronavirus and Automotive Dealerships
There has been much uncertainty recently concerning the coronavirus. Depending on where you live, the effects that it will have on your life could vary greatly. However, one thing for sure is that people and businesses across the nation are being affected by the crisis, including automotive dealerships. This article will address some of the frequently asked questions regarding how your dealership could be affected by the coronavirus, and give you some tips for how to potentially navigate your circumstances.
Is my dealership considered essential?
The CDC has advised that everyone practices social distancing, and some regions have even put shelter-at-home orders out, meaning that only essential workers are to show up to work. There has been some confusion around whether or not car dealerships in some areas are deemed essential, but the general consensus has been that they are. Check with the state or county orders for your region, and keep updated with the state mandates.
How can I optimize safety at my dealership?
It is incredibly important that your employees and facilities remain clean. Giving extra employees additional sick hours during this time will help keep off the pressure for employees to show up to work if they begin showing symptoms. Encourage self-isolation as soon as employees begin to feel unwell. Increase the amount of times that surfaces are sanitized during hours of operation. Gloves and masks, when used properly, are also very helpful in stopping the spread of the virus, and employees should wear them at all times, especially those who are face-to-face with customers. Also, make sure to provide ample disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer around the premises.
Make sure to be very clear to your staff and customers about the protective measures that you are putting into place at the dealership. This will help everyone to be informed, and make your employees and customers alike feel comforted. Post these measures online and around your dealership so that the information is clear and visible to everyone who interacts with your business.
Can I move some of my dealership’s processes online?
The service departments of dealerships have been currently deemed essential by every state with a shelter-at-home mandate, but that doesn’t mean that your employees in these departments have to be at risk. Customers should be asked to discuss the details of their appointments with an employee first through the phone or through email. Vehicles should be disinfected both before staff enter them, and when they get returned to the customer. Parts orders should be for outside pickup only.
In terms of the sales department, the transition should be much easier, since selling vehicles remotely is not a new concept. Sales staff can use video chat to discuss vehicle requirements, and to showcase the features of vehicles on the lot. If customers would like to physically test drive a car, staff should not get into the vehicle with them. Methods such as phone calls, texts, email, and having a detailed dealership website can still make sales possible during this time.
Financing can be handled online or through the phone, so this department of your dealership will probably be able to function closer to normal than any other department. Customers will most likely never need to be physically present, since technology like video chatting and screen sharing makes it easy to convey information about insurance.
How can I use my time wisely during the coronavirus outbreak?
Although vehicle sales have been down recently, this doesn’t mean that you should be low on work. There are many tasks that might be overlooked during a busier period that you could pursue at your dealership. If you have the money, you could use this time to stock up on inventory and participate in online auctions, focusing on vehicles that don’t depreciate in value in case your vehicles sit on your lot for a little longer than usual.
Another tip would be to review the prices of the cars already on your lot. The market might begin to fluctuate a little more than usual, and it is essential that a dealership stays competitive with their pricing. Try to stay in sync with the market as much as you can so that customers stay drawn to your business.
Make sure that your dealership’s website is updated and looks appealing, since must customers will be online shopping more and more in the upcoming weeks. Make sure that your page is navigable, that all your contact information is up to date, and that your vehicle listings are accurate. Your dealership’s website can make a big difference in customers wanting to buy from you, especially now that they are advised not to leave the house.
Will there be any government stimulus?
The government is currently working to sign through a stimulus bill that would include loans for small businesses to help them through the economic slowdown. Discuss the bill with your certified public account to determine if your dealership is eligible so that you can take advantage. It is also a good idea for dealers to check if your state, county, or city government is providing any sort of aid for small businesses.
There are many things that seem out of control right now during the coronavirus outbreak, but it is important for us to try to focus on the things that we can control. Pay attention to what the CDC and your local government is saying to do for safety precautions in your area, put good safety protocols into place at your dealership, and use some of your down time at work to improve parts of your dealership that you may not normally have time for. Although it is much easier to say than to do, try to keep a positive mindset, and try to focus on things that you can control, and remember to keep social distancing for the safety of you and your loved ones.