There seems to be light on the horizon. This past weekend, a number of states began their own respective "Phase 1" of carefully reopening businesses and lifting restrictions.
With this in mind, here’s some insight on what dealers can do to start opening their doors again.
Stay Aware & Informed
The best thing dealers can do is stay aware and informed about changing restrictions. Do you know what contingencies are in place for your dealership? Do you have a plan for when showrooms receive the "green-light" to reopen?
Different states are implementing varying changes in dealership sales activity, so it's wise to know what those changes mean for your dealership, but also to prepare for the next steps as things open up. Whether you're allowed appointment-only showrooms, phone/email only sales, remote drop-off test drives and sales, or open showrooms with masks and sanitization restrictions, ensure your sales team is both equipped to work with their respective state recommendations and that you're equipped to be compliant with the lifted restrictions as they occur.
Before COVID-19 shut down many dealers to varying degrees, sales teams likely had numerous deals in the works. Re-engaging those leads first will likely pay off the fastest, especially for equity leads looking to lower their monthly payments via more flexible financing options. With people eager to get back to work, open leads in your CRM will still need a vehicle.
Obviously, you want to reach out with sensitivity because many prospects may have lost their jobs or put things on hold during the financial downturn. However, with things changing, this might be the right time for them, so simply letting them know that you're open and ready when they are can be a great way to revive those leads. It might even be a great time to capitalize on the great deals OEMs are offering by extending those offers to buyers in need.
Leverage Social Proof
Prospects may still need some encouragement that dealerships are not only open, but safe to visit. A great way to demonstrate this is by sharing content that reassures customers that your dealership is taking every precaution to keep employees and customers safe. By sharing daily Facebook posts and videos of your showroom and cars being disinfected, customers will feel much more confident about coming in for a test drive.
Any time you're able to sell a vehicle or make service repairs, it’s an opportunity to display your commitment that you’re open to the service community. Providing that social proof to your audience will likely instill the confidence to help other would-be-shoppers follow suit.
Reanalyze Advertising Budget
Evaluating your marketing and advertising budget is going to be very important as the economy turns around. While restrictions may be lifted in some instances, buyers may not rush to your showroom right away. There’s sure to be some trepidation and caution from the public. Knowing how to navigate consumer behavior will be key to staying connected to your customer base now more than ever. It's also important to remember that each dealership is different. Some metropolitan areas may not have been affected like rural markets have. The opposite may be said in different states as well.
So, with this in mind, what should you focus on?
Online marketing, such as email and social advertising, should likely still take the lions share of marketing budgets. Outside of that, gauge your market and the active buyers as restrictions unfold. Are you able to properly attribute buyers to your radio, TV, or digital advertising? If so, hone in on those areas with discernment as things ramp back up.
Stay Connected Using Facebook
With so many people working from home and staying inside, social media and video consumption, has seen a massive increase. In particular, millennials (24-37 yrs old) have seen a 44% increase in online video consumption.
If you’re looking to be conservative with your marketing budget, Facebook advertising is, by far, the most cost efficient ad platform online. It's also a great way to be relevant and stay connected to your community and customers in a sincere, heartfelt way.
While the past two months have been challenging for many, things will return to normal. As you may already know, the stock market is a major indicator for the automotive industry; and, while volatile, it has been trending up over the past few weeks. This looks to bode well for dealerships, so making sure you have a marketing plan now is critical.
If there is anything we can do to help re-engage your contact list and jump start your sales as restrictions let up, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you!
If you're interested in a FREE market survey to analyze what your dealership's current market looks like click the link below!