Coronavirus Survival Guide For Dealerships Part 2
Things are changing fast these days. In less than 3 weeks, the whole world has been turned upside down. We know that when things are changing this quickly, it’s difficult to stay in-the-know and up-to-date with everything. And the stark differences between local and state regulations are making it even harder for dealers to get clarity. That’s why we’ve updated our Coronavirus Survival Guide with the information you need to know now.
MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE RESTRICTIONS AND GUIDELINES IN YOUR AREA
Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place areas vary greatly by location. States, counties and municipalities are all issuing executive orders that outline different restrictions. Some dealership sales may be categorized as non-essential businesses, but you may still be able to conduct sales over the phone or by appointment. In most areas, service departments are accepted as essential.
If your state or municipality does not consider dealership sales essential, you may want to start a grass-roots campaign to educate public officials and explain why dealership sales are essential and how you can comply with social distancing requirements while still providing a necessary service.
ADAPT THE BUYING PROCESS TO THE CURRENT SITUATION
Offer digital buying options to your customers and communication through text, phone calls and emails. Consider using Facetime or video chat to conduct presentations. Try to reduce the number of test-drives provided. If a deal can be done without a test drive, go for it. If it’s feasible to allow a customer to test drive a car without coming to the dealership (ie. Taking the car to them), do it.
KEEP TABS ON THE HEALTH OF YOUR TEAM
Monitor the health of every employee and their family members or people they share a home with. If someone feels ill or has a family member that feels ill, encourage that employee to stay home. Consider making your sick time policies for all employees more flexible and lenient.
Check your Business insurance
Do you have business insurance? Do you have business interruption insurance? If so, look into whether or not this could be a qualifying event, and what documentation you need to begin gathering to be prepared to make a claim.
LOOK INTO AND APPLY FOR SBA 7(A) LOAN
As you may have heard, President Trump recently announced an unprecedented $50 billion (now raised to $300B) that will be added to the SBA lending authority in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These government loans are offered by a limited number of institutions. In fact, there are only 14 nonbank lenders licensed to make SBA 7(a) loans. These loans could be business-saving for many small business owners, including yourself and especially if your dealership has been forced to close due to a stay-at-home order.
APPLY REALISTIC THINKING
None of us can predict the future, and nobody knows for sure what will happen. But as a business leader in your area, you can choose whether or not to under-react, over-react, or intelligently respond.
If you want to stay clear, focused and sane, it’s important to carefully curate the flow of information. There is SO MUCH politicizing and sensationalizing occurring in almost every piece of information out there. Keep a clear mind and a level head, so you can continue to lead your people and run your business.
KEEP THE LEADS AND TRAFFIC FLOWING FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN
There may come a time when significant business disruption is unavoidable. In some states, it’s already happening
If you start turning your lead flow down, or off completely, while you’re still able to be open for business, you’re robbing yourself of opportunity and profits you may desperately need later. What’s more, when things get rolling again, and they will, you’ll want to have a full pipeline to sell from—so you can hit the ground running.
There will always be demand for new and used vehicle sales. If that demand is temporarily interrupted due to shelter-in-place orders, be confident that there will be pent up demand waiting for you on the other side. And that pent-up demand will be there for the taking when things start getting back to normal. But if you let your voice in the market diminish, it may be replaced by someone else’s voice later.
So stay strong. Keep generating leads, setting appointments and selling cars for as long as you possibly can.
BE A CALM CAPTAIN THROUGH THE STORM
Your entire team is going to need you. They’re going to need you to be a rock in a tumultuous sea. Don’t back down from the challenge. Don’t act erratically. Be calm, confident, cautious and follow your heart.
Get Your News From An Unbiased Source
Click Here to subscribe to a daily newsletter from Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. It’s filled with useful and accurate info, and it leaves out the sensationalized hype and fear-mongering.
GET CREATIVE BEFORE YOU THROW IN THE TOWEL
There are two kinds of people in the world—those who let things happen to them and those who take the bull by the horns and make things happen for them. In times like this, you may have to get creative and try things you wouldn’t have if the steady rhythm of life wasn’t interrupted. Share videos from home on social media, build expertise in your area, be the calming voice in a sea of chaos. The investment you make in these activities now, will pay dividends after this thing blows over.
The schools in our area have been closed for a while now. Our team has been working remotely for almost as long. Just today, our COO told a story about how her sons teacher is reinventing the education system—visiting students to do remote lessons through windows, brightening her students’ (and their parents’) days and helping ensure kids are still getting the education they deserve. No one came up with the plan for her. She got up and got creative.
IF YOU’RE STILL OPEN AND STILL DOING BUSINESS—WHETHER REMOTE OR IN-PERSON—ADJUST YOUR MESSAGING ACCORDINGLY
Communicate with your customers. Explain the current situation, how you are trying to help and the precautions. There are still a lot of people who need dealership sales in these uncertain times. Some people have leases that have or will expire. Others have gotten in accidents. Still other may have experienced a catastrophic mechanical failure. People are quick to judge right now, but when you explain the why, people often take a step back from panic and outrage and become more understanding.
Get A Strong Support System Of Success-Minded
At the end of this thing, if you want to come out better and stronger, you need a strong support system who is going to help you work through each of the new challenges these crazy times throw at us. Our network of success-minded dealers across the country is focused on not just getting by right now, but capitalizing on the opportunity that lies in front of them. There are still people out there who need your help. They need you to be a positive voice in the community, and some of them, now more than ever, need your help finding a nicer, more reliable vehicle.
The dealers we work with have been masterminding online 24/7 since this thing began, discussing everything from the best way to take care of their staff to the best way to keep their lot running the best it can be. It’s like the answer to every question you’ve ever had, all on-demand and in one place. There’s no contests or competition, just dealers eager to support each other and help you reach your goals.
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