At the time that we are writing this, there are 15 states that have active stay-at-home orders for nonessential businesses and services. But there are 35 that don’t. So what should you be doing right now to prepare for a possible shutdown in your state?

The most important thing you can do right now is to keep a level head—don’t panic and don’t make any rash decisions. Intentional response is better than a knee-jerk reaction here.

We don’t mean to downplay the severity of the situation we’re facing right now.

But as business owners, this puts us in a unique and difficult spot to make decisions. You have to balance the safety of yourself, your community and your people at the same time as you are balancing your personal business and financial situation. It’s a difficult place to be.

Of course, if the government comes in and tells you to shut your business there’s nothing you can do about that, but until you reach that point, businesses have to do their best to try to continue.

But what does that mean when it comes to running and promoting your business, now and when this thing eventually blows over (because it will blow over).

There are really 3 camps of response (of business owners, but also everyone in the economy) when it comes to situations like this:


There Are Those Who Think The Sky Is Falling

They’re building bunkers. They’re hoarding food. They have 17,000 rolls of toilet paper. That behavior is problematic. It feeds into the panic, which only helps it grow.


Then There Are Those Who Are In Denial

These people are completely out of touch. They’re nonchalant about the entire situation. They think it’s a government conspiracy, so they are purposefully traveling and interacting, just to prove it’s a hoax. That is also problematic for obvious reasons.


Then There Are Thos Who Take An Intelligently Conservative Approach

This is our approach and what I recommend every business owner do in a situation like this. Pay very close attention to what’s going on in your community. Pay very close attention to what’s going on with your employees. And especially pay very close attention to your numbers.

We can’t stress this enough: DO NOT make any rash decisions, especially when things are steady, because there may be a time in your area where the situation in your area is not good and you are forced to take dramatic action. So you don’t want to take dramatic action in terms of reducing your business opportunity too quickly.

In our point of view, you want to keep your business opportunity as steady as possible for as long as possible because you have no idea what will happen in the future and how long it will happen for. Because it might be nothing (or something very minor). In which case, you’ll be glad you didn’t take your foot off the gas. Or it might be something. In which case, you’ll have extracted as much juice as possible before things really got sticky.

Here’s the interesting thing: we may not have a crystal ball, but we do have memories and we do have history books. And we can learn and look back at what happens in communities and economies after a crisis like this.

And what we know is that things roar back.

And the people who are poised to take greatest advantage of that opportunity are the ones who were smart, had a plan and knew how to prepare for what some people would call the inevitable.

A number of the dealers we work with, created their dominance and their position in the market today during a period when other people were retracting. That 2008-2009 period and thereafter.

Obviously, we don’t want anyone to get sick. We don’t want anyone to die. And we would prefer if everything just went on smoothly, but we don’t always get what we want. We get what we get.

Here Are Top Tips To Position Yourself To Make The Most Opportunities You Have Before You Get Shut Down


Keep A Clear Head By Being Careful About What Information You Consume.

It’s fair to say that we are all probably consuming more news today than we were several months ago. We are all being inundated by news and information about this crisis.

If you want to stay clear, focused and sane, it’s important to carefully curate this 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.


Whatever Your Media Of Choice Is, Now Is The Time To Become The Dominant Voice.

The silver lining here is that there’s opportunity that exists in all of this. It might seem crass to talk about growing your business and gaining market share in the face of everything that’s happening in the world, but it would also be irresponsible for business owners not to.

Especially if everything shuts down in your area, and you can’t do business. We can all agree that that’s bad, particularly for any length of time. But if that happens, everyone is stuck at home. And here’s why that could actually be an opportunity.

For most dealers, the economic engine for their business is advertising and marketing—that’s what drives traffic, sales and growth. In particular, advertising and marketing as it is related to media. And if you can’t leave your house, you have nothing to do, but you still want to know what’s going on in the world. The only way to get that information is through the same media we use. Except the number of people consuming that media, in this time, is at its peak.

We have the unique advantage of having lived through this several times because we live in central Florida, which means that our area has been threatened or hit by hurricanes many, many times. Multiple times just in the last handful of years. The result of that is that we go through periods of time where everyone is at home. And what they’re doing this entire time is listening to the radio, watching the local news and cruisin’ on Facebook. That’s what they’re doing.

So even in this worst-case scenario, even if your state eventually issues stay-at-home orders, you may not be able to “do business.” At least not at a retail location. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t correspond with customers and setup potential business for when you can open your doors.

Or, depending on how the situation unfolds, you may not be able to do business en masse. But you might be able to do business one-to-one.

The reality of it is, even in the worst-case scenario, the thing that drives our business most is actually going to increase in value as the crisis increases.

There’s an opportunity here for you to grab the dominant voice in your area, especially if you don’t already have it. It’s also important to note that if you do already have it, there’s an opportunity for someone else to grab it, if you let go of it by cutting back your media. So you have to make sure you keep your voice dominant and clear.


Tweak Your Messaging.

As you leverage the opportunity available when it comes to media right now, you may want to adjust your message a little bit. You may want to acknowledge the situation in your messaging as things develop in your community. Listen to the conversation that’s going on inside the minds of the people, and tie into it.

You don’t want to come across as tone deaf or out of touch. The messaging you were using before all of this happened is probably not the right messaging to be using now.

We help all the dealers we work with develop content that makes sense for the conversation in the moment. We cannot predict what the conversation is going to be or when it’s going to change. So doing this requires you to be open and flexible and aware of what’s going on, so you can respond to it swiftly.


Talk To Other Business Leaders In Your Area And Other Successful Dealers Around The Country.

It’s important to not only keep up with the news but to also keep up with what other business owners are doing. In times of crisis, when the rest of the world is panicking, having a peer group of like-minded business people can help you chart the course ahead.

In situations like this, the conversations in our group of dealers usually ramps up. They’re eager to share new approaches, ideas for sustaining (and growing) business and unique insights on how we can all make the most of a crazy situation. There is an immense power that lies in having a group of fellow business owners that can support and encourage you.


Prepare For Possibility Of Remote Work

It may turn out that your area does not issue a stay-at-home order and you are able to continue operating. But it may still be a good idea for you to prepare to try to work remotely. This will vary based on whether you already have systems and processes in place to complete sales remotely or not. Some things you may want to consider are creating short video tours of current inventory to share virtually with potential customers, researching ways to complete paperwork online, setting your BDC up with necessary materials to continue to call leads remotely. Even if you end up in a situation where sales are not possible while you are closed, you can still create relationships with customers and let them know you will be there to help when this passes.

Get Ready For The Snapback.

What is really interesting and hopefully positive about all of this is that the recovery period is unknown. In a recession, the recovery is long. It’s almost impossible to go from a recession to high times overnight. But in a situation like this, which is vastly different, you could go from a depressed economic situation to a high economic situation very quickly. Some experts are even predicting a ferocious snapback as soon as stay-at-home orders are lifted.

That doesn’t change the current state of the world we live in. Of course, there is going to be hysteria around you. People are going to be distracted for the time being. People are going to be in a panic. Events are going to get cancelled.

But here’s the thing: In the long run, the demand that exists for car sales is not going to be substantially changed by all of this. We know that vehicles are an essential part of everyday life—people have to be able to get around—even if some local governments aren’t recognizing that in this moment. Demand might be delayed for some period of time in your town. But it will snap back. And if you want to be poised to do something then, you have to set yourself up now.

Keep a level head, become the dominant voice in media now and start building positive relationships with prospective customers now, over the phone and via text and email. Focus on how you can help them, and you’ll be in a much greater position to strike when all of this blows over.