“We’ve been through oil embargoes, wars, financial global meltdowns. And the meltdown was just 10 years ago, so all of those things are in the back of our head. We survived. Actually, we thrived right after that immediately. So we understand.”– Rhett Ricart, NADA Chairman, commenting on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the automotive retail industry, Automotive News, March 16
I saw the above quote in a newsletter from NADA today, and it got me to thinking about my years in the automotive business, and where we are today. We have faced many challenges to the auto industry over the decades, and we have not only survived but thrived. The current challenges to our country and throughout the world from the #COVID19 virus will be overcome, we’ll learn from them, and move forward, stronger for the experience, as we have many times before.
We are taking all precautions to protect our family here at Advantage GPS, and making decisions about our operations with senior leadership and with input from everyone. We are carefully monitoring news and advisories from our federal, state and local governments, and will act on their recommendations accordingly.
Importantly, we are 100 percent focused on serving our customers with the world-class customer service they have come to expect. Every team member is focused on this. We are open for business, and if you have questions, special requests, or need anything, please reach out to your GPS Account Manager.
I did note some common-sense suggestions in a blog post from Dealer Inspire, a digital retailing vendor, that I thought could help retailers continue to move metal. In fact, the blog post had some interesting information about website traffic and actual dealership visits around the country.
Interestingly, in most markets consumer demand remains strong, though physical dealership visits are down. The blog noted “consumers will gravitate towards dealerships that allow for more, if not all, of the car-buying process to be done from home.”
This is an important time to focus on:
- Communicating with your employees and customers to help them fully understand what you are doing to mitigate the risk of the virus at the dealership and in the vehicles and their health and safety. Think about creating a pamphlet detailing your efforts. Good communication builds trust, and trust is essential.
- Being digitally visible to in-market shoppers with strong merchandising, giving consumers the details and vehicle photography to make confident decisions online.
- Providing shopping tools that allow consumers to easily go deeper into the buying process from home, including quickly narrowing their search and determining their personalized payment plan.
- Being available to home shoppers with the ability to walk them through the vehicle and the buying process remotely, whether over the phone, texting, or video chat.
- Eliminate all barriers to selling a vehicle. Take a vehicle to the customer for a test drive. Put processes in place to close a deal at a customer’s residence. Be sure the delivery people are notaries.
There is much the White House Administration, and its human services agencies are doing, and Congress is already taking up bi-partisan legislation to help Americans get through this Global Pandemic. Please pay attention to their advisories. Please be safe, and be healthy, and make common-sense decisions about your family’s health and the health of your business.