How do you need to handle business in our current environment?
It’s certainly not business as usual. It can’t be. Businesses are having employees work from home or laying them off until things change. Governments are asking business and people to have extensive distancing from each other and several states are now calling to close all bars and restaurants for a minimum of 2 weeks.
The one positive about our business in the BHPH/LHPH is that our customers don't buy for a want they buy for a need.
So how do you get your customers to feel comfortable about doing business with your dealership and fulfilling that need.
First you should have a conference call or meeting with your team to let them know their safety is paramount and what precautions they can take to stay safe. Then inform your customers what you’re doing to make sure that they feel comfortable coming to your business. This message can be sent by email or letter. You could also send a text directing them back to your website with information that you are still operating and how you are operating. This needs to be done immediately, so your customers know you are still open selling cars and collecting money. Posting it on your front door might also allow your customers to feel safe before they walk in the door.
Sales - Now more than ever it’s imperative that your online presence is very well positioned. If you haven’t already you need to get all your cars that can and will be sold online. If you can add multiple pictures that might also help make the customers feel good about their potential purchase. A good explanation of the vehicle extras and accessories also helps make them feel comfortable about the vehicle.
Application - Our businesses can get a lot of the information online and the verification of that information will now be easier because you can do it before they get to your dealership to test drive the vehicle. Most software systems and websites will ask the customer to at least give the basic information. Once you get the basics now it’s time to take on the full application online or over the phone. If your software allows for a full application online have the customer fill out as much as possible. The customer can then bring in all the other documents as needed when they get to your dealership.
Test drive - Once your customers arrive at your dealership, of course go and welcome them to your business though I would suggest not shaking their hand. Although this might seem odd right now and the foreseeable future this is the way we should be doing business. Again this protects your customers and your team members. In fact most people will appreciate the lack of a handshake because of the current situation. Make sure after every test drive you wipe down the cars to protect your customers and your employees.
Collections -With business closing even for a short time, reducing hours and laying off employees, it might be a while until we get back to normal.
Your portfolio is your backbone of your business and needs to be protected. All hands on deck! Someone from your business should reach out to all of your active customers via any of your social websites - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other account on what you are doing at your business to keep your customers safe. I would also suggest a hyperlink to get to the payment option as many places as possible. We need to be on the phones early and often these first few days. Contacting the customer first and understanding what is happening is important to success of the relationship.
How do you handle the customer that have reduced hours, been laid off or out of work because of the CoronaVirus?
- Gather as much information as possible - Address, all phone #’s, etc.
- How many hours are you working? When are you working?
- When did you get laid off?
- How long is the layoff?
- When will your unemployment begin?
- Will you be paid while you are not at your job? Even minimum wage while you are out?
- How are you handling your other expenses?
- What is the name of your supervisor? Their phone number?
With your customer come up with a realistic plan that works for you and them.
You want to trust your customers but verify the information. As business owners and management the importance of gathering good information now will allow you to make a sound business decision on how to move forward with your customers.
I would go online and find out about some of the services that are being offered by your cities, counties and state governments. You can pass this information to your customers if they are offering meals or assistance of some type.
I have seen some relief legislation that might help though most businesses cannot wait for the legislation to pass (Coronavirus Relief bill). Although as BHPH/LHPH dealers it might be something you help push along as it will probably help your customers.
Inventory - Make sure before you drive a vehicle for yourself or your employees you wipe down the areas you will be touching or using. This is a safety precaution but until we get through this being safe is the smart thing to do again for you and everyone in your business.
Marketing - Your marketing should be simply that you are still around and available to do business with them. They also need to know it’s safe to do business so it goes without saying if you have someone that is sick they should not be there.
Please let me know how else I can help. You can also visit our free, open forum www.BHPHbuzz.com. We have created a a section for COVID-19 Best Practices.
Be safe in these unprecedented times.