But times have certainly changed over the last few months, business as usual is different and companies will need to navigate what the ‘new normal’ looks like.
There’s no doubt that it will be a very different retail environment, so dealers will need to find ways to adapt and innovate to get more cars driving off their forecourts.
To help, Seán Kemple, Director of Sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, shares his advice on how dealers can embrace the ‘new normal’ and adapt their business to meet the needs of their customers.
Rejig your website and digital promotion
Digital channels play a vital role in the car buying process, and this has escalated massively during the pandemic where more people turned to the Internet for their research.
Before even leaving the house, many will look online to check what procedures are in place to ensure their safety before making their visit, so it’s important that dealers are clear about the measures they’re taking to protect consumers on their digital channels.
This should be on the website homepage, unmissable to consumers, and included on vehicle adverts. Make sure that images used are refreshed too – buyers will remember if a vehicle has been on the forecourt for several months, so it needs to be up to date. It’s also worth reengaging with third party advertising sites to familiarise yourself with new features to support responsible buying and selling, such as promoting home delivery or live video viewings.
Ensure your premises are safe
As is the case across the retail sector, ensuring that the necessary protections are in place will help ease the concerns of buyers stepping onto the premises.
So, look to other industries for inspiration about how to create a safe environment. Be aware that many of the items required for social distancing are in high demand, so remember to order ahead of time. Make sure that you sanitise every vehicle, using yellow stickers to show buyers when they were last cleaned, place boundary stickers in front of desks or consider see-through screens to protect yourself and customers.
It’s a good idea to schedule viewing appointments for customers, to limit the number of people in the dealership at any one time. And make use of our new ‘remote quote and apply’ Showroom functionality for customers who don’t need to visit the dealership.
Adjust your existing sales processes
Being prepared and willing to adjust your sales processes to suit customers’ needs will be vital during the current environment.
Speak to all potential buyers about their finance options – for lots of people, the option to spread the cost of high-value essential purchases right now might be a big help. And consider promoting the finance options available on your digital adverts. Offering a delivery service is especially valuable during this time to avoid more contact than is necessary with customers. And ultimately making them feel more comfortable.
Weigh up your options to manage cashflow
Make sure you’ve investigated the government schemes which have been put in place to support dealerships.
And before opening, decide your stance on price and offers on vehicles – this may well have been turned upside down in recent months, so it’s important that the sales team are fully briefed before advising customers.
Build customer loyalty
It’s no secret that the way businesses are responding to customer needs during this time is impacting brand loyalty.
So, it’s important to think carefully about how you can support your customers and improve their buying experience during this time. Why not give buyers a free tank of fuel, a personalised thank you card or even a gift card? Little offerings will go a long with customers.
You could even consider a key worker discount, which will encourage positive word of mouth. And make sure to introduce customers to additional products to give them extra protection, such as warranty and insurance products.